Yesterday Marvel Studios announced that production has begun on the Captain Marvel movie. And while they didn’t overtly reveal any new plot details about this cosmic superhero adventure, new casting announcements offer a good idea of where the film is headed. The fact that the movie will bring back villains like Ronan the Accuser and Korvath strongly suggests that Captain Marvel is drawing from the classic comic book storyline The Kree-Skrull War.
Read on to find out what The Kree-Skrull War is and why it seems to be a major influence on this upcoming MCU epic.
Created by writer Roy Thomas and artists Sal Buscema, John Buscema and Neal Adams, The Kree-Skrull War is a nine-issue storyline that ran in the pages of The Avengers in 1971 and 1972. The story was very unusual for its time in that it told a long-form narrative rather than opting for standalone storytelling. The scope of this story, and its emphasis on bringing together multiple Marvel franchises, was a major influence on later Marvel Comics crossovers like Infinity Gauntlet and Civil War.
The Kree-Skrull War dealt with the fallout of the endless conflict between the two cosmic empires, as Earth suddenly found itself caught in the middle. That conflict bubbled over once it was discovered that Kree soldier-turned-superhero Mar-Vell (who held the Captain Marvel title at the time) had fathered a child with the Skrull princess Annelle. Needless to say, neither empire is pleased at learning this bit of information.
That’s the crux of The Kree-Skrull War, though the storyline involved a number of other running threads, such as Ronan’s attempts to eliminate human civilization and weaponize earth against the Skrulls, Annihilus attacking the Avengers from the Negative Zone and Maximus taking over the Inhuman throne. We assume most of that will be ignored for the Captain Marvel movie, but the basic idea of Earth becoming collateral damage in the escalating conflict between the Kree and Skrulls will likely remain.
Since the early days of Marvel’s Avengers and Fantastic Four comics, the Kree and Skrull Empires have been two of the dominant powers in the Marvel Universe. Because they’re both warlike civilizations with a love of conquest and expansion, they’ve basically been locked in a never-ending feud for thousands of years. Both races see Earth as a valuable resource and a key battleground in their cosmic war. That’s true in The Kree-Skrull War and various other key Marvel storylines.
The Kree are ruled by a leader called the Supreme Intelligence, a being who’s basically little more than a floating head with almost limitless brainpower. The Supreme Intelligence’s will is enforced by a group of powerful warriors/space cops called Accusers. MCU fans already met one of these Accusers, Ronan, in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and he’ll be making a return appearance in Captain Marvel. The Kree have also been frequently referenced in TV series like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Inhumans. The Kree themselves long ago reached genetic stagnation, and much of their interest in Earth stems from a desire to harness humanity’s genetic potential to improve upon the Kree genome.
The Skrulls, meanwhile, are notable for for their ability to shape-shift and impersonate other creatures (human and animal alike). Specialized soldiers called Super-Skrulls are even capable of mimicking the superhuman abilities of Earth’s heroes. For example, the original Super-Skrull wields the powers of all four members of the Fantastic Four. The Skrulls have yet to appear in the MCU, but no doubt Captain Marvel will reveal how they’ve played a hidden role in events on Earth over the past several decades (if not longer).
In the comics, Carol Danvers gained her superhuman abilities after her DNA was accidentally fused with that of Mar-Vell, essentially making her half-human, half-Kree. Mar-Vell became her mentor, helping her come to terms with her powers and encouraging her to become a hero in her own right. It was only fairly recently that Carol took up the Captain Marvel mantle in the comics (she went by Ms. Marvel or Warbird prior to that), but it looks as though she’ll be the only one to carry that name in the movie.
It’s probably a safe bet that the core dynamic between Carol and Mar-Vell will remain largely unchanged in the movie. However, it’s possible that Carol, who has only a small role in the Kree-Skrull War storyline, will take the place of one or more characters in this version of the story. In the comic, Mar-Vell’s body was bonded with Rick Jones, an ordinary Earthling who was partially responsible for the birth of the Hulk and assisted the Avengers in their early adventures. The two characters couldn’t exist in the same plane of existence at the same time, meaning one was trapped in the Negative Zone while the other was in the Marvel Universe.
We could see Carol and Mar-Vell sharing a similar dilemma in the movie. Whatever accident fuses their DNA could also be responsible for keeping Mar-Vell trapped in another dimension, forcing him to help guide Carol from afar as she fights to prevent two space empires from destroying Earth. Her unique genetic structure could also eliminate the need for the subplot involving Mar-Vell and Annelle’s baby. Ronan and his Kree soldiers may target Earth specifically in order to find this strange new heroine who holds the key to advancing Kree genetics.
Having Carol and Mar-Vell be physically bonded could also explain Carol’s prolonged absence from the MCU. We know that the film takes place mostly, if not entirely, in the ’90s, but we don’t know why Captain Marvel has been MIA for the last 10 years’ worth of movies. Maybe she’s been trapped in a different dimension all this time?
Captain Marvel will feature slightly younger versions of several familiar S.H.I.E.L.D. characters, including Nick Fury, Maria Hill and Phil Coulson. It seems that Carol Danvers will be the first super-powered hero Fury and his agents encounter in the modern age, likely setting in motion Fury’s Avenger Initiative and everything that followed.
However, this probably isn’t the only role S.H.I.E.L.D. has to play in the movie. Another major subplot from The Kree-Skrull War involves a character named Senator Warren Craddock, a fear-mongering politician who stokes anti-alien paranoia through the creation of the Alien Activities Commission. It’s eventually revealed that the real Craddock has been replaced by a Skrull impostor. It’s very likely that the movie will explore S.H.I.E.L.D.’s efforts to maintain order as Earth’s leaders uncover the first evidence that humanity isn’t alone in the universe. It may also be revealed that some of these leaders are Skrull impostors secretly paving the way for the rest of the Skrull Empire to take over the planet.
Marvel could even use this movie as a way to build towards an adaptation of 2008’s Secret Invasion. That crossover built on the revelation that numerous Marvel heroes had been replaced by Skrulls, leading to the tagline “Who Do You Trust?”. Perhaps the next phase of the MCU will build towards a Secret Invasion-inspired storyline in the same way the first three phases have slowly set up Infinity War.