The shape-shifting Skrulls have always been the go-to for bad guy alien race in Marvel comics. Fantastic Four, The Avengers, and a few others fought them on occasion. Even some cartoon series took the Secret War angle and made them one-dimensional sci-fi villains.
Which is fine and all, since they are numerous and can blend in and impersonate Avengers when the team least expects it for subterfuge purposes. And they make for default go-to antagonists when Marvel writers need a big epic crossover story involving all the Marvel heroes.
In the Captain Marvel movie, the cycle has been broken. The Skrulls are getting their due as more than just one-note villains.
So when we first start, we see “pre-Captain Marvel Carol Danvers” Vers and her Kree pals infiltrate and fight off Skrulls in the Tofa planet. Vers is then captured and then proceeded to have her mind forcibly probed by the Skrulls. That’s when all her memories start flooding in.
After she crashes into 90s earth and bumping into Nick Fury, she then gives chase to infiltrating Skrulls, and then has to fend off more Skrulls who happen to imitate the leading officer for S.H.I.E.L.D. After all that, she ends up at her co-pilot Maria Rambeau to figure out the co-ordinates of Dr. Wendy Lawson’s lab; she turns out to be a Kree scientist who can figure out lightspeed tech that can help turn the tide of the Kree-Skrull war.
Then along comes the Skrull leader Talos who bargained with Fury and Vers to take them to the lab; no fight, no bloodshed, no heel turn. In fact, he’s pretty chummy with them, using his brand of wit and subterfuge knowhow to not mess things up. Props to Ben Mendelsohn’s acting for this, FYI.
When they arrive at the lab, who should turn up but Talos’ family and other Skrull refugees.
And then the big reveal happens: the Skrulls aren’t invading. They’re retreating from the Kree who want to dominate the universe under their rule. The Skrulls don’t want any of that, so they ended up getting killed by Jude Law’s character and his Kree crew.
Talos’ pals and family are hiding in Winters’ base this whole time, presumably changing forms and looks to blend in with earth and hiding from the ever-vigilant space race.
Granted, it’s a twist you can see coming a mile away – Jude Law loves his villain roles. And if you know your comics, Minerva (Gemma Chan) isn’t exactly a hero. However, having the Skrulls being the victims and runaways instead of them being invaders is a great spin on the Marvel comic formula. The twist itself is gradually built up and pays off in a spectacular way, with the Skrulls coming off as sympathetic, and the Kree kept consistent if the first Guardians of the Galaxy’s Ronan and Korath is of any indication. In fact, it’s the only plus point of the Captain Marvel movie.
Does this mean we’ll be seeing evil Skrulls in the MCU to mix things up? Maybe, if there’s going to be a Fantastic Four film from them; that 20th Century Fox takeover announcement by the House of Mouse is just a few days away. For now, these space beings are given a new dimension in the films, much like how all of its major villains and B-grade bad guys either get killed or are forgotten.