WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Captain Marvel, in theaters now.
Ever since news that the Skrulls would officially make their Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in Captain Marvel, the Internet has been rife with theories and rumors that Marvel Studios' post-Avengers: Endgame plans would quietly build to an adaptation of the Marvel comic book crossover event Secret Invasion.
Written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by Leinil Yu in 2008, the popular storyline revealed that the shape-shifting extraterrestrial race had covertly infiltrated Earth's superhero community as part of a mass invasion of the planet. However, given how the latest MCU film unfolds, this does not appear to be the case.
Similar to the comic book source material, the film initially introduces the Skrulls as a brutal, interstellar threat, traveling from planet to planet, blending in with the local population before ruthlessly conquering them as part of their ongoing war with the Kree. However, in an inversion to their traditional portrayal, the third act of Captain Marvel reveals that the Skrulls are actually an oppressed alien species, bombed and pursued mercilessly across the universe by the Kree. The earlier introduction is actually part of an insidious propaganda campaign that has helped indoctrinate Carol Danvers to view the Skrulls as her most hated enemy.
Instead of looking to conquer Earth, the Skrulls are searching for a planet where they can regroup and take refuge after suffering a particularly devastating bombing at the hands of the Kree Accusers led by future Guardians of the Galaxy villain Ronan. While several Skrulls, led by their commander Talos, do infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D., they do so to track down Carol and learn the whereabouts of a hidden orbital station established by the Kree scientist Mar-Vell to use as a safe haven by noncombatant Skrull refugees.
Upon defeating her former Kree comrades attempting to eradicate the Skrulls around Earth and obtain the Tesseract, Talos decides the best fate for the Skrulls is relocate to a new planet on the other side of the galaxy to rebuild after years of enduring a losing war against the Kree. Carol decides to join them in their search to atone for the past six years of battling the extraterrestrial race across the stars and defend them against any future threats as they establish a new home.
While the potential for the MCU to adapt Secret Invasion isn't completely off the table, much of Captain Marvel's emotional payoff and character development comes from the film's twist that the shapeshifters are actually a sympathetic, victimized race. To revert them to the comics' considerably more sinister incarnation would do this cinematic depiction a disservice and undo Carol's development by proving the Kree were right in their campaign against the Skrulls all along. And, logistically, with the Skrulls settled on a completely different planet to rebuild their civilization on the other side of the universe, traveling all the way back to Earth to subvert its population doesn't make much narrative sense.
While Captain Marvel producer Jonathan Schwartz hinted that the seeds for Secret Invasion possibly making its way to the MCU may be in the cards, it doesn't seem like all that good an idea anymore, certainly not given how the Skrulls have been introduced to the MCU. A sudden, surprise heel turn by the Skrulls would stand directly against the thematic arc of redemption and atonement at the heart of Captain Marvel, validate the villainous Kree completely and send out an extremely questionable social commentary about the nature of refugees and providing them a sanctuary in times of oppression.
While the storyline could inform certain aspects of the future of the MCU moving forward after next month's Endgame, any direct links to the 2008 crossover would be tenuous at best, especially with the Kree now firmly established as an interstellar threat to Earth with Jude Law's Yon-Rogg still alive and returning to Hala. Just as Captain Marvel subverted expectations in its handling of the Kree-Skrull War with the film's twist and role of Mar-Vell, any attempt to position a Secret Invasion adaptation in the future would likely be a calculated misdirection on Marvel Studios' part to keep audiences guessing.
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck from a script they wrote with Liz Flahive, Carly Mensch, Meg LeFauve, Nicole Perlman and Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Captain Marvel stars Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Jude Law as the commander of Starforce, Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson, Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser, Djimon Hounsou as Korath the Pursuer, Gemma Chan as Minn-Erva, Ben Mendelsohn as Talos, Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau, Algenis Perez Soto as Att-Lass, McKenna Grace as a young Carol Danvers and Annette Bening as the Supreme Intelligence.