(Photo by Marvel Studios)The alien shapeshifting race known as the Skrulls have been part of the Marvel Comics universe for a very long time. Their first appearance was in 1962 s The Fantastic Four #2, which saw the alien race copy the team’s likenesses and powers in an attempt to discredit the heroes, paving the way for a full-scale invasion. They would appear again 16 issues later and continue to develop across hundred of appearances over the next 50+ years. But over in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, their first appearance is set for next week s Captain Marvel. Previously, the character concept was believed to be part of the 20th Century Fox library of intellectual property alongside the Fantastic Four, but the situation has changed, and the arrival of the storied alien race could mean big things for the MCU. And looking at their history within the pages of Marvel Comics, we have a few guesses as to what their appearance could mean in Marvel Studios output in the years to come.Celestial Origins(Photo by Marvel Studios)As Marvel’s own cosmology began to solidify, the reptilian Skrulls became connected to the Celestials, an impossibly powerful primordial race that is the seeming source of most Marvel superpowers, thanks to their manipulation of genetics across the universe. If you’ve ever watched Ancient Aliens, they are similar to the Sky Peoples the “experts” on that program claim altered human evolution, except the Celestials have more thrilling headgear. (In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Kurt Russell s Ego claimed to be a Celestial, signaling the first appearance of the race in the MCU.) The initial Skrull peoples were split into three distinct groups: Prime, Deviant, and Eternal (Keep the latter two terms in mind as they will matter later). The Deviants hunted the other two groups into virtual extinction. The last surviving Eternal married into the Deviant royal line while the last remaining Prime Skrull fled to Earth and, surprisingly, leaves our tale.After the Deviants won the war for supremacy and became the only Skrull race remaining, they set aside their warring ways, using their shapeshifting powers to infiltrate and assimilate annexed planets and cultures. Cooperation was the order of the day until the Skrulls met the Kree.The Kree-Skrull War(Photo by Marvel Studios)As part of an initial diplomatic mission to the Kree homeworld of Hala, the Skrulls set up a delegation of Kree and Cotati, the planet s other advanced species, on separate worlds to determine which of the two would represent Hala in the Skrull Empire. The Kree killed the Cotati when it became clear the latter species would be chosen. Stunned by their behavior, the Skrull ambassadors banned the Kree from trade with the empire, which prompted the Kree to simply kill the ambassadors and appropriate their technology. Eventually attacking the Skrull homeworld of Skrullos with ships reverse-engineered from that initial encounter, the Kree engaged the Skrulls in a protracted war across millennia that saw the latter reorganize into a militaristic society. This war would continue into the 20th Century (or the relative present, as Marvel’s timeline scales between the 1960s and the present day in strange ways), during which time the Avengers would become part of the conflict.After Earthling superheroes got involved, there was relative peace marred by occasional skirmishes. But any semblance of a ceasefire ended when planet-eater Galactus (who we expect to enter the MCU soon) devoured the Skrull throneworld and its central leadership. Scattered factions turned on each other before resuming their war with the Kree.Secret Invasion(Photo by Marvel Studios)Earth, as it turns out, is in a prime strategic spot for both the Kree and the Skrulls. And thanks to Celestial intervention in its past – which the Kree would later mimic by developing the Inhumans on Earth – it was full of superpowered people ready to defend it from any open invasion. The Skrulls had an advantage thanks to their shapeshifting abilities, infiltrating the planet on a number of occasions, like the aforementioned Fantastic Four #2. Defeat often came at the hands of Skrull defectors who came to enjoy the human way of life.After the Galactus incident and a few other shocks to their sense of superiority, a waning Skrull Empire went for broke, kidnapping prominent superheroes as a prelude to an all-out invasion of the planet. In Secret Invasion by Brian Micheal Bendis and Leinil Yu, their plan comes to fruition as Skrull agents destabilized the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, S.H.I.E.L.D., and the planetary defense force known as S.W.O.R.D. They also attacked Tony Stark directly, disabling him and the various Stark technologies used around the globe.But as nothing ever goes right for the Skrulls, the heroes they kidnapped made their way back home and help the remaining heroes on Earth defeat the Skrulls after a lot of fighting in and around Manhattan. The resulting fallout saw Tony discredited and Norman Osborn given a leading position in the S.H.I.E.L.D./Avengers defense apparatus. But seeing as Osborn one of Spider-Man s most well-known adversaries has not shown up in the MCU yet, that is a story for another day.Skrulls In The MCU(Photo by Marvel Studios)Thanks to the complicated rights situation between Marvel and Fox, the Skrulls are something of a late addition to universal politics. As the MCU developed without them, the Kree debuted in both Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Guardians of the Galaxy in an independent fashion. In Guardians, their ancient animosity with the Skrulls appeared to transfer to the Nova Corps of Xandar, but from what we have seen of Captain Marvel, a Kree-Skrull war definitely occurred in the 1990s, the time period in which the film is set.Thanks to some pre-release featurettes, we know the Skrulls are the Kree’s deadliest and most ancient enemy. Their war has been ongoing for generations, and the Starforce is an elite group dedicated to preventing Skrull aggression in Kree space. We also know the Skrulls are infiltrating Earth, with squad leader Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) making his way into part of the planet s power structure. When Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) first arrives on Earth, a sense of paranoia grabs her as she cannot detect Skrull from human. That paranoia may become a bigger problem for the MCU in the years to come.Who Is Secretly A Skrull?(Photo by Marvel Studios)While it appears Captain Marvel’s main job is to introduce Carol ahead of her appearance in Avengers: Endgame, it also seems to be setting up a number of details for the cinematic universe’s fourth phase and firming up some ideas already introduced in previous Marvel Studios films. In terms of the latter, it will presumably explain why we have not seen Skrulls in the present day MCU and why they are not a continuing threat to the Kree Empire in Guardians of the Galaxy.Of course, it s always possible we have seen Skrulls without knowing it. Thanks to their shapeshifting and power-mimicking abilities, they could be hiding in plain sight. Going back to Secret Invasion, a whopping number of characters turned out to be Skrulls. Spider-Woman, for example, turned out to be the Skrull Empress, which shocked fans of the character, as she had been on a year-long journey of self-discovery that was undone by the event series. Tony Stark’s butler Jarvis – who is a conventional human man in the comics – also turned out to be a Skrull who kidnapped the real Jarvis and replaced him for at least two years prior to the invasion. As the miniseries pointed out, the Skrulls need to keep the people they are replacing alive to make the duplication viable. Thanks to a direct connection with their captives, Skrulls can possess their memories and can even act as sleeper agents unaware of their Skrull nature.(Photo by Marvel Studios)Because of this, we suspect at least a few of MCU characters who survive Endgame will turn out to be Skrulls. Back in the comic book, Hank Pym turned out to be an active Skrull agent, while dupes of Iron Man, Spider-Man, Invisible Woman, and many more were unleashed during the open invasion to confuse the heroes. Considering the Skrull-Hank’s importance to the scheme, it would not surprise us if the MCU’s version of the character (played by Michael Douglas in Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp) was replaced between films. It is even possible he was replaced before the first Ant-Man film, with the sleeper agent as dedicated to retrieving Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) as the real Hank.This makes an infiltration scheme – should it survive the plot of Captain Marvel – all the more insidious. People who disappear for long stretches like Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) seem like prime candidates for duplication. Curiously, none of those three were replaced in Secret Invasion, but they would certainly seem suspect in a post-Endgame world in which the Avengers begin to wonder who is friend or foe. Then again, the same could be said about nearly every member of Team Cap, since they went off the grid after Captain America: Civil War. But also consider Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision’s (Paul Bettany) weekends away from the Avengers complex. That is plenty of time to replace either or both. Of course, we’re going to assume Vision was never replaced, as the Skrull ability cannot presumably replicate the powers of the Mind Stone. Plus, he s, well, you know.And should Robert Downey Jr. decide to stick around for another few films after Endgame, learning he may have been a Skrull replacement would certainly give him some new drama to chew on and quip at.(Photo by Marvel Studios)Then there are supporting characters like Luis (Micheal Pena), Shuri (Letitia Wright), General Ross (William Hurt), Jim Rhodes (Don Cheadle), and even Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) to consider. In Secret Invasion, the replacement of Jarvis was actually key to toppling the Avengers, so replacing close friends and relatives could prove equally effective in an MCU version of the story.This all presumes, of course, that the debut of the Skrulls is leading to a phase-long meta-narrative based on that comic book storyline. It is also possible that the Skrulls, with their connection to the Celestials, may come into play within the confines of Chloé Zhao’s upcoming Eternals film. Both early humans and Skrulls and primitive Kree for that matter were altered by the Celestials to create separate breeds of Eternals and Deviants. While the Skrull Eternals and Deviants ultimately became one Skrull race, the human Eternals and Deviants continue a secret war away from Earth. Perhaps one side or the other will reach out to their Skrull cousins for aid.But then, all of this assumes the Skrulls were not completely wiped out in the 1990s, which is still a possibility until Captain Marvel settles the matter. We re presuming they will stick around for a while in some form or another after all the dust settles.Do you think the Skrulls have already invaded the MCU? Who do you think might possibly be one? Let us know in the comments.
If you ever thought a hybrid of The Big Sick and Michael Mann s Collateral sounded like a terrific idea, this week s Stuber might be the ride for you. Like The Big Sick, Stuber stars Kumail Nanjiani as a mild-mannered Uber driver named Stu, of course who is roped into a frequently violent wild goose chase across Los Angeles in search of a murderous drug dealer. The large, imposing man responsible for said roping is LAPD detective Vic Manning (played by Dave Bautista), who requires Stu s services because he s recovering from a Lasik operation. Will the two of them learn to put aside their differences and work together in harmony? Will they help each other confront some hard truths about themselves? Will cars be chased and heads be busted? The answer to all of those questions is likely to be yes, and critics say it s a little disappointing that Stuber doesn t do more with its talented cast, which also includes Karen Gillan, Mira Sorvino, and Betty Gilpin. There s also quite a bit of violence and a some tonal inconsistencies, but if you don t mind that, there may some fun to be had here.
What happens when a professional journalist goes free-range as a podcaster with no checks on her work? That s just one question Truth Be Told creator Nichelle Tramble Spellman (Justified, The Good Wife) tackles in the new Apple TV+ legal drama.Based on Kathleen Barber s 2017 novel Are You Sleeping, Truth Be Told stars Aaron Paul as Warren Cave (Paul), a young man sent to prison 18 years ago for a murder he may not have committed, and Octavia Spencer as Poppy Parnell, a journalist and podcaster who initially helped put him behind bars only to realize two decades later that she may have contributed to the incarceration of an innocent man.Exploring topics of race, privacy, and the way we consume and are influenced by media, Spellman flips the true-crime genre on its head in Truth Be Told, which premieres also stars Lizzy Caplan, Mekhi Phifer, Michael Beach, and Elizabeth Perkins.True-crime podcasts have been the rage for some time. Yet, as addictive as they can be, there are also concerns about the lack of oversight in the way information is researched, collected, and delivered to the public. What is true one week, can be debunked in the next episode. And that can be tough for audiences to keep up with, especially if the show has already done its part in swaying public opinion.Just how harmful can unchecked journalism be, especially in this fast-paced cancel-culture period we re currently living in? And what are the consequences that may lie behind the public justice that can unfold after consuming popular episodic true-crime entertainment like the hit podcast Serial or Netflix s docu-series Making a Murderer?(Photo by Apple TV+) I like the idea of this woman who s a trained journalist with really great credits, who is now in a field where there are no checks and balances. There are no bosses — she s her own boss, Spellman explained during the show s press junket. As she goes down this rabbit hole, there s no editor, there s no publisher, there s no one to pull her back in. She goes against the first rule by making it personal. That s how we sort of got into the story, asking if there s a ripple effect in crime. The person at the center of it, how does her ambition couple with her guilt? Spellman and Spencer both share an obsession with the true-crime genre and the armchair-detective aspect of shows like the ones mentioned above, as well as Snapped, Cold Case Files, and Forensic Files. That listener-as-participant element of the story drew the Oscar-winner to the project. I was just excited to get to play something very close to how my mind works as an investigator, Spencer revealed. The only thing is, I like working from behind the screen, you know? The idea of actually being out in the real world asking questions, investigating in that way is a little scary. For the Shape Of Water actress, the biggest allure of the project was being able to play a character with a flawed moral compass. Sure, Poppy wants to discover the truth, but is it her guilt or the ever-present threat to her professional reputation that is driving the podcaster on this dangerous mission? That s what I love about Poppy, she answered. Her ascent into greatness — or fame or money — came on the back of whether or not this affluent young kid would get a fair trial. Would he be found guilty? For her, everything pointed at guilty. Fast forward 20 years, when you now have the cancel culture with social media and people are listening to her podcast. There s this fervor around it, an excitement, and she realized: Could she have been wrong? And what are the implications of her being wrong? (Photo by Apple TV+)This all brings us to the man on the other side of the argument: Warren Cave. When Poppy decides to re-examine his murder case for her podcast, the two eventually reunite, and the results, at least at the beginning, are a bit upsetting. Not only did Poppy possibly have a hand in putting an innocent man in jail, but his survival in prison meant Warren took some drastic measures. He was pushed into a corner, Aaron Paul said, discussing the reason his character became a white supremacist. He was thrown in prison at a very young age and he had to pick a side — that s the only way to really survive. Otherwise, he s just a punching bag 24/7. The side he picked was the Aryan Nation Brotherhood, which is a really terrifying sort of just dangerous place to be. Truth Be Told may be inspired by Are You Sleeping, but Spellman takes liberties with the story being told here. Not only did she pivot a bit from the original subject matter — according to the showrunner, Poppy Parnell was an ancillary character in the book — she also kept the outcome of the series a secret from the actors. At the very beginning of the shoot, my first burning question was, Well, did he do it?' Paul revealed. And Michelle was like, I m not telling you. And then I go, But I m the actor playing the guy, I should know if he did it or not! I honestly did not know whether or not he was innocent until the very end, truly. How does an actor play a convict who may be innocent of the crime he was imprisoned for? Especially if you, as the actor, don t know if he is in fact innocent? I always try to bring heart to any character I m playing whether it s a very bad person or a good person, Paul said. I just had to play him as honest as I saw him. Putting the actors pursuit of the truth of their characters onscreen may be tricky, but created an intriguing push-and-pull dynamic between the honesty of the roles and the show s overall quest for truth. In the criminal world, in the true-crime world, one of the things that they tell you that you can t rely on is the eyewitness because the truth is always malleable, Spencer said. To an eyewitness, you may not see or remember the same thing that I see or remember. So truth is sadly, it s perception and how we all remember this moment. I think truth is shaped by whatever lens you view the world. And whatever your truth is will inform what you think the truth is. A much as fans of the genre yearn to do their own investigative work in between episodes of their own favorite podcast, there s a largely not-talked-about component to the popularity of true-crime reporting and dramatization: the impact on the families involved. I was watching Making a Murderer, Spellman said. There was one point in the first season where I was thinking, God, this must be awful for the woman s family. You know what I mean? That this has become something that s like watercooler talk. And that idea that, if you had this tragedy in your past, and it s been personal, and it s something that your family has dealt with, and then it becomes this thing, where maybe your coworkers are talking about it. Maybe that s a secret that you didn t tell at work, because it s too painful. And then we have this discussion, this back-and-forth about these very real people as if they re fictional characters. (Photo by Apple TV+)Take cinematic stories like Netflix s Mindhunter, Quentin Tarantino s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, and the Zach Efron–starrer Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, for instance. The bloody exploits of serial killers like Charles Manson and Ted Bundy have become a part of our pop culture lexicon, but their violent deeds caused very real pain for their victims and their victims families. It just becomes a story after a while, Spellman explained. Other people s pain is just a story. It s now a shorthand story, but that pain was real and it s still real for all of those families. So we touch on it when we go to Warren s family, Poppy s family [there s a] ripple effect there. Which brings us back to Poppy s podcast that threads it all together. As gimmicky as it may sound to have a voiceover narration guide an audience through the mystery that is slowly unfolding, that component works for Truth Be Told. And one of the reasons why, according to Spellman, is the unreliability of its host. The podcast is kind of an unreliable narrator, she said. We don t know Poppy s agenda. And we don t know when or if we can believe her. Truth Be Told episodes 1-3 are now streaming on Apple TV+.Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.