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Marvel's Skrulls: Understanding Marvel's shapeshifters before MCU's Secret Invasion on Disney+

Everything you need to know about Marvel's Skrulls ahead of Secret Invasion

Skrulls
Image credit: Marvel Studios

Be careful who you trust. Your coworkers, neighbors, and even your own family members could be Skrulls in disguise. The shapeshifting aliens are masters of disguise, and they have infiltrated the Marvel Universe. Ever since their 1961 debut, the Skrulls have secretly disguised themselves as some of Marvel’s most iconic heroes and villains. Deception is their greatest weapon, and they wield it well.

The Skrulls are getting ready to make some big moves in Secret Invasion, Marvel Studios’ latest Disney+ series. The question is, will they act as friends or foes? To help prepare for the upcoming streaming series, Popverse has put together this handy dossier, which should bring you up to speed on everything you need to know about the Skrulls.

Who are the Skrulls?

Fantastic Four #2 cover (first Skrulls)
Image credit: Marvel Comics

The Skrulls are an alien race that exist within the Marvel Universe. They are known for their green skin, pointy ears, and their large chins. The Skrulls are most famous for their ability to shapeshift. Skrulls are usually portrayed as enemies to the various Marvel heroes, but some members of the race have acted as allies.

What are the limitations of their shapeshifting abilities?

A typical Skrull can shapeshift into anything they imagine, whether it’s a living creature or an inanimate object. This ability also allows them to mimic the voice of whoever they’re impersonating. Their shapeshifting powers can enable Skrulls to manifest wings, allowing them to fly. They can manipulate their bodies to stretch, but not as far as someone like Mr. Fantastic. Skrulls can alter their mass when they shapeshift, but there are limits.

According to The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, a Skrull can only expand their volume 1.5 times larger than their original mass, and they can only shrink to 0.75 times their original mass. However, this rule has not always been consistent. For example, the Skrull known as Lyja was able to transform into a housefly in Fantastic Four: Unplugged #4 (1996). It’s possible that Lyja has different limitations due to being experimented on (Fantastic Four #369). Whatever the case is, a Skrull can’t grow into a giant, so don’t expect any kaiju Skrulls.

A Skrull can only transform into solid matter. A Skrull cannot shapeshift into gas or a puddle of water. When a Skrull shapeshifts, it takes on the appearance of their target, but not their properties. This means that if a Skrull turned into a comic book, they might look like paper, but they wouldn’t be made of paper. This also means that if a Skrull shapeshifted into Iceman, they would not be able to manipulate ice. However, some Skrulls, like Kl’rt the Super Skrull, have undergone special procedures in order to mimic the powers of Earth’s heroes.

Do Skrulls have any other abilities?

Debut of the Super-Skrull
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Some Skrulls are born with telepathy powers. Although they are able to read minds, the telepathic Skrulls are not always able to comprehend what they’re reading, especially if it comes from another species. Some of the Skrull telepaths are able to influence others, such as the Skrull De’Lila, who used her powers to control Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk, and Ghost Rider in Fantastic Four #349 (1991).

Mutants exist in the Skrull species, each with their own unique abilities. In the 2000 limited series Maximum Security: Dangerous Planet, Charles Xavier formed Cadre K, a team of mutant Skrulls. The members of the group displayed numerous mutant powers, such as rapid healing, energy absorption, energy blasts, and illusion casting.

When did the Skrulls first appear?

The Skrulls first appeared in Fantastic Four #2 (1961), which was written by Stan Lee and penciled by Jack Kirby. The Skrulls planned on invading Earth and saw the Fantastic Four as their only obstacle. The Skrulls sought to remove the group from the board by turning them into enemies of the state. Using their shapeshifting power, the Skrulls impersonated the Fantastic Four and committed a series of crimes. The superhero team was able to clear their name and stop the Skrulls. As a final humiliation, Reed Richards had the Skrulls transform into cows, and brainwashed them into forgetting their true identities.

Who are some notable Skrulls?

Alicia Masters is revealed to be Lyja
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Here is a brief breakdown of some of the notable Skrulls you will encounter throughout the Marvel Universe.

  • Anelle – A Skrull princess who rejected war in favor of peace. She often found herself at odds with her father, Skrull Emperor Dorrek VII.
  • Hulkling – Son of the Kree warrior Mar-Vell and the Skrull princess Anelle. Hulkling is a Kree/Skrull hybrid who is best known for his role in the Young Avengers comic series.
  • Jazinda – A bounty hunter and the daughter of Kl’rt, the Super-Skrull. She enjoys a friendly relationship with She-Hulk.
  • Khn’nr – A sleeper agent who infiltrated Earth’s heroes by disguising himself as the deceased hero Mar-Vell. He got lost in the role and turned against the Skrull Empire.
  • Kl’rt the Super-Skrull – A soldier in the Skrull Empire who received special powers after undergoing an experimental procedure. Kl’rt can mimic the powers of the Fantastic Four.
  • Lyja – A former enemy of the Fantastic Four who became one of their greatest allies. She once impersonated Alicia Masters and married the Human Torch. Their current relationship is complicated.
  • Replica – A Skrull from an alternate timeline who briefly joined the Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • Soren – The wife of the Skrull general Talos, and an ally to Captain Marvel and Nick Fury. Soren is an original character created for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • Talos – A Skrull who doesn’t have the ability to shapeshift but makes up for it with his great strength. An alternate version of Talos is seen in the 2019 film Captain Marvel, where he serves as an ally to Carol Danvers and Nick Fury.
  • Veranke – Queen of the Skrull Empire. Veranke impersonated Spider-Woman for years and infiltrated the Avengers. She engineered the massive Skrull takeover that was seen in the Secret Invasion storyline.
  • Xavin – A young Skrull who joined the teenage group known as the Runaways.

What are the different types of Skrulls?

The Kree-Skrull War
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Skrulls can be divided up into three different subspecies - Deviant Skrulls, Prime Skrulls, and Eternal Skrulls. As detailed in Silver Surfer #5 (1987), powerful beings known as the Celestials experimented on the Skrulls during the early stages of their evolution. This experimentation caused the Skrulls to splinter into three different groups, which each went down different evolutionary paths.

If you’re reading a Marvel Comic with a Skrull, 95 percent of the time it’s a Deviant Skrull. They’re the most dominant members of the species, and the ones most frequently used throughout the Marvel Universe. Prime Skrulls did not have the power to shapeshift and found themselves easily manipulated by the Deviant Skrulls. As a result, they’re currently extinct. Eternal Skrulls had the power to generate energy blasts in addition to other abilities. The majority of the Eternal Skrulls were eradicated by the Deviant Skrulls eons ago. As you have probably gathered, Skrulls don’t exactly play well together.

What is their homeworld like?

The Skrulls originally came from a planet called Skrullos, but they abandoned their homeworld over 100,000 years ago. The Skrull capital was relocated to Tarnax IV, which was commonly referred to as Throneworld. Tarnax IV was a sprawling capital that served as a testament to the massive Skrull Empire. However, the might of the Skrull Empire was not enough to save Tarnax IV from its tragic fate. The planet devourer known as Galactus consumed the Skrull homeworld in Fantastic Four #257 (1983). The Skrull Empire was scattered for many years, until Tarnax II was established as their new Throneworld.

What is their relationship with the Kree?

Hulkling unites the Kree and the Skrulls
Image credit: Marvel Comics

It would be an understatement to say that the Kree and the Skrulls do not get along. The Kree are a race of humanoid aliens from the planet Hala. The Kree and the Skrulls have an intense hatred for one another, and it all started with an intergalactic contest. As detailed in Avengers #123 (1974), the conflict began millions of years ago when the Skrulls visited the planet Hala. At the time Hala was home to two species, the Kree and the Cotati. Neither race had ever encountered extraterrestrial visitors before.

The Skrulls offered to share their technological advancements and scientific knowledge with one of Hala’s races. The Skrulls then set up a contest, where the Kree and the Cotati would prove their worth, and the winner would receive the Skrulls’ riches. The Kree built a sprawling city, while the Cotati built a beautiful park. The Cotati won, and the Kree didn’t take it well. The Kree slaughtered the Cotati, and then set their sights on the Skrulls.

The two alien races spent millions of years in a bloody war. Countless lives were claimed, and Earth was constantly put in the middle. The conflict currently has a ceasefire, thanks to the Kree/Skrull Alliance established in Incoming #1 (2019). However, there is still a lot of hard feelings on both sides, and it wouldn’t take much to reignite the spark of war.

What was the Secret Invasion comic storyline?

Secret Invasion cover
Image credit: Marvel Comics

Secret Invasion was a massive crossover comic event published by Marvel Comics in 2008. The main story was told in an 8 issue limited series, along with various tie-in issues. The storyline featured the culmination of a massive Skrull invasion that had been years in the making.

As the story unfolded, Marvel’s heroes (and the readers) learned that some of their closest allies had been replaced by Skrulls years ago. For example, New Avengers #40 (2008) revealed that the Skrull queen Veranke had been masquerading as Spider-Woman since New Avengers #1 (2004). Other allies like Edwin Jarvis, Mockingbird, and Hank Pym had also been replaced. The Skrulls had leveled up their shapeshifting techniques and were now able to duplicate powers. They were also able to shield their brainwaves from psychics like Charles Xavier.

In the end, the various Marvel heroes were able to defeat the Skrulls. However, the conflict had a heavy toll on the various heroes. The heroes no longer trusted each other, and the Skrulls had successfully broken up some of their alliances. It would take years for everything to go back to normal.

What are some other notable Skrull storylines?

Want to brush up on your Skrull knowledge? Here’s a list of some of their essential storylines.

  • Fantastic Four #2 (1961) – The first appearance of the Skrulls.
  • Fantastic Four #18 (1963) – The first appearance of Super-Skrull and our first look at the Skrull Throneworld.
  • Avengers #89-97 (1971) – The Kree-Skrull War is spotlighted for the first time.
  • Fantastic Four #257 (1983) – Galactus devours the Skrull Throneworld.
  • Fantastic Four #357-358 (1991) – The Fantastic Four learn that a Skrull named Lyja has been masquerading as their friend Alicia Masters for the past few years.
  • Skrull Kill Krew #1-5 (1995) – A group of humans gain powers after eating Skrull-infected beef.
  • Meet the Skrulls #1-5 (2019) – A limited series that follows a group of Skrulls who are masquerading as a normal suburban family.
  • Empyre #1-6 (2020) – The Kree-Skrull War finally comes to an end, with both sides forging an uneasy alliance.
  • Secret Invasion #1-5 (2022) – A sequel to the original Secret Invasion event. The Skrulls attempt to infiltrate Earth’s heroes and political figures once again.

What is their role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Still image of a Skrull shouting
Image credit: Disney+

The Skrulls made their MCU debut in the 2019 film Captain Marvel. The movie presents the Skrulls in a more sympathetic light than their comic counterparts. Initially, Captain Marvel (and the audience) are led to believe that the Skrulls intend to conquer Earth, but in reality they are refugees trying to escape the Kree. The violent war between the Skrulls and the Kree have claimed many lives, causing some Skrulls to seek salvation across the stars.

Carol Danvers befriends a Skrull named Talos, his wife Soren, and their unnamed daughter (although we have some theories on who she may be). Using her cosmic powers, Carol defends the Skrulls from the Kree, and helps them find a new home among the stars.

Talos and Soren returned in the 2019 film Spider-Man: Far From Home, where it was revealed that they had been impersonating Nick Fury and Maria Hill. However, this wasn’t part of some nefarious plan. The real Fury had sanctioned this deception, allowing Talos to take his place while he dealt with a mission off-planet.

Some unnamed Skrulls were also seen during the WandaVision season one finale, where they recruited Monica Rambeau for a mission. This tease will play out in The Marvels, a film set to be released later this year.

The Skrulls will be front and center in Secret Invasion, an upcoming mini-series set for release on Disney+. So far, the Skrulls have been portrayed as allies, but things can change at any moment. After all, the television project is named after a comic book event where the Skrulls almost took down humanity. The MCU could subvert our expectations and go in a different direction, but when Skrulls are involved, it’s best to keep your guard up, and be careful who you trust.


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About the Author
Joshua Lapin-Bertone avatar

Joshua Lapin-Bertone

Contributing writer

Joshua is a pop culture writer specializing in comic book media. His work has appeared on the official DC Comics website, the DC Universe subscription service, HBO Max promotional videos, the Batman Universe fansite, and more. In between traveling around the country to cover various comic conventions, Joshua resides in Florida where he binges superhero television and reads obscure comics from yesteryear.

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