If Marvel Studios' Secret Invasion has taught us one lesson, it’s that we shouldn’t always believe our own eyes. The Marvel Studios mini-series is currently streaming on Disney+, combining cosmic action with espionage intrigue. Thanks to the Skrulls’ shapeshifting powers, it’s hard to know what’s real, and that’s before we question everyone’s loyalty. Thanks to Gravik’s coup, the Skrulls have been split into two camps – planet salvation, and planet domination.
The problem is it’s hard to fight your enemy when they’re hiding among you. For example, the latest episode implied that a longtime Avenger might secretly be a Skrull, and they’re not alone. When you lay out the facts, one might conclude that Skrulls have also made their way to the White House. Is the President of the United States a Skrull? Let’s look at the evidence.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for the latest episode of Secret Invasion!
Is War Machine a Skrull?
Should we be keeping a close eye on James Rhodes? It’s possible I’m being overly suspicious, which is easy to do when you’re watching a show about shapeshifting aliens. The issue is, Rhodey’s behavior seems to be more than coincidental. Let’s start with episode 2, 'Promises.'
Colonel James Rhodes, acting under orders from the United States government, fires Nick Fury from his position in the S.A.B.E.R. organization. Not only that, but his bedside manner is somewhat poor. Rhodey seems to take glee in firing Fury, admitting that he volunteered to do it. Remember, Rhodey is also the superhero War Machine, a respected member of the superhero community, and an Avenger.
Arguments among friends have been a part of the Marvel Universe since its inception. It’s what makes their characters so nuanced. But there was something about the way Rhodey dismissed Nick. As one social media user put it, “I hope Rhodey is a Skrull just because of how badly he disrespected Fury.”
It would be easy to write this off as speculation, until you get to episode 3, 'Betrayed.' During the episode, Fury realizes that one of his allies is a Skrull impersonator after they call him Nick. “Nobody calls me Nick,” Fury says. Guess what? Rhodey called him Nick in episode 2.
The biggest smoking gun occurs at the end of the episode. Fury’s wife Priscilla communicates with someone using a secret phone. As soon as she makes the call, a voice that sounds like Rhodey tells her to meet at St. James Church in an hour. Priscilla asks to speak with Gravik, the Skrull villain leading the invasion. “Yeah, well, you’re talking to me,” Rhodey replies.
When this is all laid out, there are three possible explanations. Rhodey is working with the Skrulls, Rhodey has been replaced by a Skrull, or Rhodey is pretending to work with the Skrulls. Either way, that phone call with Priscilla is damning.
This also raises an interesting question; if Rhodey is a Skrull, then how long has it been? Did the switch happen in the last few months, or does this go all the way back to the early MCU films? Remember, Fury had the Skrulls infiltrate Earth’s population in 1997, years before we met Rhodey in Iron Man (2008). It’s possible that Rhodey wasn’t replaced, but that he’s an original persona created by the Skrulls.
This could also turn into a meta joke, since James Rhodes was one of the first cases of an actor being recast in the MCU. Terrence Howard originated the role in the first Iron Man film, with Don Cheadle taking over in Iron Man 2 (2010). Some have suggested that Marvel Studios could use Secret Invasion to state that Cheadle has been playing a Skrull the whole time, and that Terrence Howard was the original.
However, Rhodey isn’t the only problem Fury is facing. There is evidence that Skrulls are in control of the United States Presidency, which could lead to some very big problems.
Is the President of the United States a Skrull?
Secret Invasion has introduced a new commander-in-chief to the MCU. The new President, who is known only as Ritson, is played by Dermot Mulroney. We don’t know much about President Ritson, but we know that his administration is facing some hefty challenges. The world is still recovering from losing and regaining half the population after Thanos’ attack, and the planet is constantly under threats from whatever is happening in the latest MCU project.
But maybe the country’s latest threat is actually coming from inside the Oval Office. We know that Gravik has installed Skrulls to various leadership positions around the globe. Is it possible that Ritson is one of Gravik’s shapeshifting soldiers?
One clue can be seen in the 2022 film Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Although Ritson is not seen in the film, the President was mentioned during a conversation between the U.S. State Secretary and C.I.A. director Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. During their confidential meeting, we learn that the President is looking to destabilize Wakanda’s government. Remember, Gravik’s goal is to destabilize Earth’s various governments, leaving the planet vulnerable to a Skrull takeover. Taking out Wakanda would certainly go a long way towards that plan.
One of the biggest clues can be found in an MCU movie which hasn’t been released yet, Captain America: Brave New World. The film, which is set to be released in 2024, will feature Harrison Ford as Thunderbolt Ross. The role originated with William Hurt, who died in 2022. The interesting thing to note is that Ross will be President of the United States. This means that the Ritson administration is living on borrowed time.
It's possible that Ritson will resign or die. We also can’t rule out the fact the possibility that Presidential elections occur during different years in the MCU due to the Blip. Those are all possibilities, but we can’t ignore the evidence that President Ritson will be a Skrull. Something will happen between now and 2024 to end the Ritson administration. Perhaps his Skrull nature will be unmasked?
Enemies are everywhere, and there is no telling whose face they’re wearing. Keep your eyes peeled to Popverse, as we continue reporting from the frontlines of the Skrull’s Secret Invasion.