The Skrulls’ story in the MCU was initially set up in Agents of SHIELD in 2013, but legal issues prevented their inclusion in larger storylines until after Disney acquired 20th Century Fox. Marvel had several failed plans to incorporate the Skrulls due to legal issues, including their potential role as villains in The Avengers and the inclusion of Super-Skrulls. Previous plans involving the Skrulls in movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man: Far From Home could have provided more context and improved the execution of Secret Invasion.

Before Secret Invasion offered a showcase for the green, shape-shifting Marvel aliens, the MCU had a different plan for the Skrulls that was repeatedly upset by legal issues. Throughout the MCU’s Infinity Saga and the beginning section of the Multiverse Saga, the Skrulls have only been focused on with any real detail in two projects. The first of these was Captain Marvel, the 2019 film centered on the titular heroine navigating the complex politics of a Kree-Skrull war before figuring out the latter people were simply displaced refugees whose image had been shattered and skewed by the propaganda of a tyrannical empire.

This then led to Secret Invasion, a continuation of Captain Marvel‘s story that continued explaining Marvel Comics’ Skrulls differently. In the show, the Skrulls were still searching for somewhere to call home. This time, the story centered on Nick Fury battling against Gravik, a radicalized Skrull hellbent on taking Earth as his home due to decades of false promises, displacement, and overall oppression by the people of the cosmos. While promising, the execution of Marvel’s Secret Invasion fell flat and would have been improved if Marvel’s original plans for the Skrulls that were crippled by legal problems had come to fruition.

While the MCU may have plans for Secret Invasion‘s lingering plot threads in upcoming Marvel Disney+ shows, it is worth exploring the set-up for the story to get to the heart of Marvel Studios’ initial plan. Surprisingly, the first tease of the MCU’s Skrulls came as far back as 2013. After the successful release of 2012’s The Avengers, Marvel TV began developing a spin-off TV show with Avengers director Joss Whedon on board. This idea spiraled into Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, a show that ran for seven seasons and essentially established its own continuity that has led to the long debate of whether Agents of SHIELD is Marvel canon.

Despite this debate, the MCU show’s earlier seasons were certainly deemed so with strong connections to movies like The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Interestingly though, Agents of SHIELD‘s first season held connections to the Skrulls, therefore linking to 2019’s Captain Marvel rather than the aforementioned projects that were released in a similar time frame in 2013. These connections were first teased in Agents of SHIELD season 1, episode 4, “Eye Spy.”

In this episode, the story sees the titular agents travel to the Todorov Building, a research facility in Belarus. As they enter, a chalkboard can be seen adorning one of the sets. On this chalkboard, an alphabet is written in Skrull language that was taken directly from Marvel Comics. This proves to be the first canonical reference – canon status of the show notwithstanding – to the Skrulls in the MCU, proving just how far back Marvel Studios began setting up the green, shape-shifting aliens of the universe.

After this fun MCU Easter egg linked to the Skrulls in Agents of SHIELD, Marvel Studios began implementing other ways to foreshadow the alien race in the MCU. That said, these numerous plans fell through concerning legal issues surrounding the rights to the Skrulls and their usage. Before 20th Century Fox was acquired by Disney, the studio co-owned the rights to several Marvel Comics characters with Marvel Studios. Some of these included the likes of Quicksilver – explaining why the speedster appeared in both Fox’s X-Men franchise and Avengers: Age of Ultron as two different versions – and Scarlet Witch.

Another of these co-owned Marvel properties was the Skrulls, meaning either 20th Century Fox or Marvel Studios could utilize the alien race on film. That said, some individual members of the Skrull race were wholly owned by 20th Century Fox including a major Skrull character named KI’rt, the original Super-Skrull. Given that Secret Invasion dealt with the concept of Super-Skrulls, setting this idea up between 2013 and 2019 – the latter year being when Disney could begin using Fox-owned properties after the acquisition – would not have been possible.

In light of this impossibility, several MCU plans to include the Skrulls fell through due to the legal issues involved with tying the aliens into an overarching story. While the Skrulls in a broader sense could have been included in various Marvel projects, they could not have been tied to any larger story given that Skrull characters with any import from Marvel Comics were owned by another studio. This meant that, despite the first tease of the Skrulls coming in 2013 with Agents of SHIELD, no other Easter eggs, references, or connections to the aliens amounted to anything until 2019’s Captain Marvel after the Fox-Disney merger had taken place.

Marvel’s Original Skrull Plans Could Have Saved Secret Invasion

As is known from the state of Marvel Studios’ Phase 5 of the MCU, these legal issues were completely resolved after the acquisition of 20th Century Fox by Disney. This meant that Super-Skrulls and other major storylines involving the aliens could finally be used as evident with 2023’s Secret Invasion. That said, the show was a disappointment to many due to its low production value despite an inflated budget, lack of consequences, absence of wider MCU connections, and the waste of the premise that promised a big storyline for the Skrulls like the comic run of the same name from Marvel Comics.

Concerning the poor reception of Secret Invasion, the original Skrull plans that fell through for Marvel between 2013 and 2019 could have improved, and even saved, the Phase 5 show centering on the shape-shifters. Initially, it was thought that the Skrulls would be the villains of 2012’s The Avengers with some merchandising even featuring the aliens before the film’s release. However, this proved not to be the case with director Joss Whedon offering his reasoning for the Chitauri being the villainous army invading New York under Loki’s rule in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

However, the Skrulls being the primary villains of Phase 1 of the MCU alongside Loki would have benefited Secret Invasion by setting up their warmongering ways. While the MCU eventually chose a different direction with the Skrulls in Captain Marvel, perhaps the set-up of some Skrulls being bloodthirsty invaders while others are simply displaced refugees almost 10 years before Secret Invasion could have provided more context to the Phase 5 story. Furthermore, an interview with IGN in 2017 confirmed that James Gunn, writer-director of the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy, had plans for the Skrulls in his first two MCU films.

Gunn confirmed that he has always had a fondness for the Skrulls and their Marvel Comics stories when he was asked about Captain Marvel‘s usage of the alien race. Gunn stated that he had looked at ways to use the Skrulls in the first two Guardians movies that “didn’t work out for one reason or another.” The cosmic connections between the Guardians films and Captain Marvel could have provided some backstory and history of the Skrulls before their introduction in the latter film, subsequently aiding how they were used in Secret Invasion and improving that show as a result.

Finally, the last failed plan for the Skrulls was connected to another 2019 film: Spider-Man: Far From Home. The Skrulls were used to an extent in this film though not as centrally as Captain Marvel when it was revealed that Nick Fury and Maria Hill had been Skrull impostors throughout the entire film. This certainly conceptually teased Secret Invasion and the idea that any Marvel character could be a Skrull, though was not focused on in any major way that had much relevance to Far From Home‘s plot.

Related: Marvel Did Secret Invasion Already 7 Years Ago And It Was Way Better

In an interview with Variety, Spider-Man: Far From Home‘s writers Erik Sommers and Chris McKenna confirmed that early versions of the film’s script involved the Skrulls much more heavily than the final product. This was dropped by director Jon Watts in an attempt to reduce the amount of plot twists featured in the project. This was later further detailed in an interview with Collider when McKenna and Sommers stated that, in very early drafts of the film, the main villain Mysterio would have been a Skrull character.

This plot twist, and the general idea of including more Skrulls in a way that affected the plot, would have definitely improved Secret Invasion. While again, the reveal of Fury and Hill as Skrulls adequately teased the concept of Skrull impostors on Earth, the lack of relevance the reveal had on the plot was a misfire. If a Skrull impostor had an integral impact on Far From Home‘s plot, the idea of Secret Invasion‘s anxiety-inducing impostor story would have been enhanced. Unfortunately, none of these plans from Marvel made it to film or TV, proving Secret Invasion‘s weaknesses and the impact legal issues had on the Phase 5 TV show.

Key Release Dates

The Marvels

Deadpool 3

Captain America: Brave New World

Marvel’s Thunderbolts

Blade (2025)

Marvel’s Fantastic Four

Avengers: The Kang Dynasty

Avengers: Secret Wars

 What was the Skrulls’ initial story trajectory?  Read More