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Secret Invasion: One of the Avengers has been replaced by a Skrull – but when did the switch occur?

A longtime Avenger has been secretly replaced by a Skrull, and we have some theories on when the switch happened.

Skrulls
Image credit: Marvel Studios

“You don’t look different, but you have changed. I’m looking through you. You’re not the same!” Those are the lyrics to 'I’m Looking Through You,' a 1965 song by the Beatles. Although the song was recorded decades before Secret Invasion, it can almost be considered an unofficial theme song to the Disney+ streaming series.

Just look at the fourth episode of the Marvel Studios espionage drama. Fury learns that one of his closest allies has been replaced by a shapeshifting Skrull. Not only is this ally one of the oldest characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but they have also been a member of the Avengers. This raises so many questions.

Warning: Spoilers ahead for the latest episode of Secret Invasion!

When was Rhodey replaced with a Skrull?

Jim Rhodey MCU
Image credit: Marvel Studios

Popverse has been suspicious for some time, and the episode 'Beloved' confirmed it - James Rhodes is a Skrull. That’s right, the same Rhodey who has fought alongside the Avengers as War Machine. Rhodey’s behavior in the past few episodes has raised some eyebrows, including the moment where he fired Nick Fury.

This week, Rhodey ordered Priscilla Fury (who is also a Skrull) to kill her husband, Nick. If that wasn’t enough to confirm everyone’s theories, another scene in the episode shows a female Skrull finishing up a shower. As she looks at herself in the mirror, she turns into Don Cheadle’s Rhodey. It’s like the Beatles said, “You don’t look different, but you have changed.”

How long has Rhodey been a Skrull? Where is the original Rhodey? Neither of these questions were answered this episode, but Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige does have some clues. During an interview with Marvel.com, Feige spoke about the Rhodey reveal. “We like the idea of fans going back and watching some of the other appearances of Rhodey and realizing that that wasn't him.”

Pay attention to Feige’s phrasing here. It seems like Rhodey was swapped out before Secret Invasion. This means that the character could have been a Skrull in the previous MCU movies. But which ones? Let’s look through Rhodey’s MCU filmography and make our best guess.

  • Iron Man – Rhodey’s first appearance, and the only film where he’s played by Terrence Howard. It would be amusing to retcon this as the only appearance of the real Rhodey. It would serve as a fun meta-commentary on the actor switch.
  • Iron Man 2 – Rhodey becomes War Machine for the first time as Don Cheadle takes on the role. This feels too early for a Skrull replacement though, especially when we remember that Gravik’s domination plan is more recent.
  • Iron Man 3 – Rhodey is promoted to Colonel, and the United States Government attempts to rebrand him as Iron Patriot. It’s possible that this could have put him on the Skrulls’ radar, but I’m ruling this one out for reasons that will become clear later.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron – War Machine helps the Avengers face Ultron. Nothing suspicious about Rhodey’s behavior here.
  • Captain America: Civil War – I need to rule this one out. In fact, I’m pretty sure that it would have been impossible for Rhodey to be a Skrull in this film. War Machine participates in a battle between the Avengers and Captain America’s fugitive heroes. During the skirmish, Rhodey’s spine is critically injured. Tony Stark and a team of doctors help Rhodey slowly recover. If Rhodey had been a Skrull, Tony or one of the many doctors would have noticed something.
  • Avengers: Infinity War – I have a hard time believing that Rhodey could have been a Skrull here. This film deals with a lot of the emotional fallout after Captain America: Civil War, as the fugitive heroes reunite with the Avengers. It’s possible a Skrull could have faked all these complicated emotional dynamics, but it would have been pretty hard. Plus, Thanos destroys half of the universe during the final moments of the film.
  • Captain Marvel – Rhodey is seen briefly during the mid-credits scene. He and the other Avengers are trying to decipher a signal one of Nick Fury’s devices is sending. This was in the aftermath of Thanos wiping out half the universe, so it wouldn’t have been an opportune time to swap out Rhodey.
  • Avengers: Endgame – There is a 5-year timeskip during the first act of this film, which would have given the Skrulls plenty of time to replace Rhodey. The other surviving Avengers would’ve been too busy to notice any changes in Rhodey’s behavior. It’s also worth noting that many top-level military officials would have disappeared as well, giving Rhodey an opportunity to be promoted. This would’ve seemed attractive to the Skrulls as they planned their secret invasion.
  • The Falcon and Winter Soldier – Rhodey appears in the first episode of the Disney+ series, where he asks Sam Wilson why he gave up the Captain America mantle. This was Rhodey’s last appearance before Secret Invasion. If we take Feige’s comments literally, then it’s almost certain he was a Skrull here.

Who is the Skrull that replaced Rhodey?

Raava the Skrull
Image credit: Marvel Studios

Who is the Skrull that replaced Rhodey? Although her name wasn’t said in the episode itself, the end credits identify her as Raava. The character was first introduced in the 2017 Black Bolt series by Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward. Raava was a pirate who had turned on the Skrull empire after her children were killed. She never learned how to shapeshift, which earned her the nickname Raava the Un-Skrulled.

Raava is also known for referring to herself in third person. Her crimes against the Skrull empire caused her to be locked in an intergalactic prison. This is where readers first met her in Black Bolt #1. Raava, Black Bolt, and a host of others had a fun prison break adventure before parting ways. Aside from visions and handbook entries, Raava hasn’t been seen since Black Bolt #5. She’s presumably off having Skrull pirate adventures somewhere.

You might be thinking that this sounds nothing like the Skrull who is impersonating Rhodey, and you aren’t wrong. The MCU version of Raava doesn’t speak in third person, and she has the ability to shapeshift. In fact, her entire storyline relies on the fact that she could shapeshift, something her comic counterpart can’t do.

I wouldn’t look too closely at Raava’s comic book history for clues on how her MCU storyline will play out. It’s likely that someone in the Secret Invasion writers room picked out the name from a list of Skrulls in the Marvel Universe.

Raava is played by Nisha Aaliya, a British actress best known for her work in the Hindi film industry. According to the Marvel Cinematic Universe Wiki, Aaliya also appeared as a Bollywood dancer in the 2021 film The Eternals. However, as of this writing Popverse hasn’t been able to verify that claim.

What’s next for Raava? Now that Fury knows her true identity, I don’t think she’ll be attending any more Avengers meetings. There are two more episodes of Secret Invasion left, and a lot can happen in two episodes. Keep your eyes peeled to Popverse as we continue reporting from the frontlines of the Skrulls’ final stand against Earth.

Image credit: Marvel Studios