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2019's Captain Marvel will see the titular hero face off against the alien race known as the Skrulls, and most viewers are expecting this to set up the Secret Invasion plotline. The film is set in the 1990s, with Brie Larson's titular hero plunged into the MCU's version of the Kree-Skrull war. A story written by Roy Thomas back in the '70s, the Kree-Skrull War saw the millennia-old conflict between two powerful alien races spill over onto the Earth. Our planet was essentially the cosmic equivalent of some Pacific Island during World War II.
While the Kree have existed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy, this will mark the MCU debut of the Skrulls. One of Marvel's most famous alien races, the Skrulls are shapeshifters who use their powers to infiltrate other worlds, and weaken them from within. They're every bit as militant as the Kree, and frankly are even more dangerous - when Skrulls are around, it's impossible to know who to trust. They've even learned to duplicate superhuman powers.
Of course, the more exciting question is just what this means for the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel is well known for playing the long game, and audiences are primed to expect a major intro like this to be the setup for something even better. Now, fans are looking at the possibility that Captain Marvel is setting up the Secret Invasion plot.
Secret Invasion was Marvel's summer event of 2008, and writer Brian Bendis had been building up to it for over a year. The concept was a chilling one; the Skrull homeworld had been destroyed years ago, and the aliens had developed a religious obsession with Earth. To that end, the Skrulls had begun systematically infiltrating the Earth's defenders. Skrulls had slipped into the armed forces, the security services, S.H.I.E.L.D., and they'd even wormed their way into the world's superhero community. The Skrull princess, Veranke, personally infiltrated the Avengers as Spider-Woman.
The Avengers first realized the Skrulls were on Earth when the Hand's leader Elektra was killed - and her body transformed back into her Skrull form. Analysis of the Skrull's body led the heroes to realize there was no way they could detect these impostors; literally anyone, anywhere, could be a Skrull. That meant the Avengers were faced with one terrible question: Who do you trust? Bendis enjoyed building up a sense of paranoia in the build-up to the main event, then launched the invasion at breakneck speed, right down to a crashed spaceship full of superhero impostors that arrived in the Savage Land.
Strangely enough, until Secret Invasion few Marvel Comics had really exploited the shapeshifting potential of the Skrulls. There had been occasional flashes of brilliance - a long-running story in which a Skrull impostor fell in love with the Human Torch, or an X-Men plot in which the Skrulls had secretly taken over the Shi'ar Empire and even replaced Professor Xavier. But, on the whole, the Skrulls had simply been used as just another alien race. It took Brian Bendis to really develop the aliens to their full potential, revealing how dangerous a race of shapeshifters could actually be.
Related: 15 MCU Characters Who Could Be Skrulls In Disguise
When Kevin Feige announced that the Skrulls were coming to the MCU, he knew full well that every comic book reader would immediately think of Secret Invasion. There are some clear long-term implications of a Skrull presence on Earth, too. The Skrulls could have infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra for decades, and they could even still be around in the present-day MCU. Many fans have theorized that Captain Marvel could see the destruction of the Skrull Homeworld, setting the scene for a full-on Secret Invasion movie.