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Supervillain Origins: Skrulls

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Michael Wynands
You can’t trust anyone when this extraterrestrial species is in town. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origin of the Skrulls.
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You can’t trust anyone when this extraterrestrial species is in town. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origin of the Skrulls.

Skrulls are a race of shapeshifting extraterrestrials hailing from the Andromeda Galaxy. Over their decades-long history in the comics, they have most often played villainous roles, both in the context of small-scale conflicts and attempts at full-blown world domination. Fierce warriors who have conquered countless planets, the Skrulls’ greatest weapon is their ability to assume the shape of other beings and objects, which makes them masters of infiltration and deception. They can also form their limbs into weapons, or use their ability to partially shapeshift in such a way as to give themselves wings.

The Skrull species didn’t always have these abilities however, this ability was only given to them as the result of genetic experimentation performed on the species in the distant past, which we’ll explore in more detail later.

When the Skrulls first appeared in 1962 in the pages of Fantastic Four #2, they easily could have been a simple threat of the week like so many villains at that time. However, they made a big impression right from the get-go by assuming the form of the various members of the Fantastic Four and committing crimes in their name (with the help of technology to replicate their respective powers). The real Fantastic Four soon found themselves at odds with the law, but thanks to some quick thinking, they manage to not only beat the team of Skrulls on earth but pose as them and convince the Skrull mothership to forego an invasion. The Skrulls invaders left (with the exception of the three that Reed imprisoned)… but they would soon return.

Just 16 issues later, in 1963, the Skrulls once again set their sights on Earth. Having learned their lesson after their first attempt at earthly conquest, the Skrull Empire used their advanced technology to create an agent capable of besting the Fantastic Four, the Super-Skrull, who could not only assume the shape of his foes but can also mimic the abilities of the Fantastic Four. Sure enough, in their first encounter, the Super-Skrull quickly bested Marvel’s first family. Once again, however, intelligence and creative thinking prevailed, and the Fantastic Four outwitted their foe by putting a power-jamming device on him.

In these early appearances, the Skrull backstory was left relatively unexplored. They were a world-conquering, shape-shifting extraterrestrial race - plain and simple. Over the years, various beings or species would claim responsibility for the creation of the Skrulls, but the definitive history of the species begins with the Celestials, as explored in 1987’s Silver Surfer #5. In this flashback, we learn that the Celestials visited the Skrulls when the species was still in its infancy. Through genetic experimentation, they created three distinct subspecies, which would go on to become known as the Prime Skrulls, the Eternal Skrulls, and the Deviant Skrulls. The aptly-named Deviant Skrulls would eventually destroy the other two species, and become the Skrulls we know today.

With the conflict on their own planet concluded, which included the defeat of a fourth species, known as the Dire Wraiths, the victorious Skrulls turned their attention outward, beginning a largely successful campaign of conquest that would see their reach spread across much of the Andromeda Galaxy. In addition to humankind, this would also eventually give birth to the rise of another galactic empire, the Kree, with whom the Skrull would enter into brutal and bloody conflict.

The Kree-Skrull War, considered one of the most important story arcs of the 1970s, is a major conflict in the Marvel universe, spanning centuries and pulling various other worlds and species into the fray. Unfortunately for humankind, Earth found itself located on the fringe of Kree and Skrull space, and as such it became a strategic point for the Skrulls, prompting them to get serious about their campaign of conquest here on this little rock we call home. Thankfully, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the Avengers, were there to save the day - though it was far from an easily won victory.

Despite being warned by the Marvel Illuminati to keep their intergalactic interests away from earth, they would later return in the high profile crossover event known as “Secret Invasion”, in which it was revealed that the Skrulls, using their shapeshifting abilities, had been placing their agents on earth for years in a covert attempt to overthrow the earth yet again.

It seems that no matter how many times the Skrulls are defeated and sent packing, this tenacious shape-shifting species will never give up on their quest to conquer earth. With the introduction of Skrulls in 2019’s “Captain Marvel,” there’s no telling how their devious plans will affect the future of the MCU. Remain vigilant, your favorite hero could very well be a Skrull in disguise.
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