The Skrulls are a villainous race of imperialistic aliens in the Marvel universe.
The Skrulls have been regularly featured in several decades of Marvel Comics, usually as antagonists of the Fantastic Four and engaged in a prolonged war with the extraterrestrial Kree. At times the race has been portrayed as a villainous one, and at other times Marvel has portrayed them as any other sentient race with its own hopes and dreams, fears and prejudices, and so on. Likewise, when it comes to individuals, some portrayed as villains, others as heroes, and most in the grey zone.
The Skrulls appear as major antagonists-turned-major protagonists in the 2019 superhero film Captain Marvel of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which is based on the Kree-Skrull War comic book storyline).
Over a billion years ago, the cosmic gods were known as the Celestials came to Skrullos and experimented on the Skrulls just as they have done on millions of worlds. Three branches were created, the normal Skrulls (with the potential to produce mutants with powers and perhaps evolve into Celestials themselves), the Deviant branch (with shapeshifting abilities), and the smallest cohort of them all the Eternal branch (extreme longevity and cosmically enhanced abilities).
Eventually, war raged on Skrullos between the races and it was the Deviant branch which emerged victorious exterminating the basic Skrulls and the Eternals. Only one Eternal remained, Kly'bn and he was able to persuade queen Sl'gur't (the leader of the Deviants) to become his mate and join him as the god and goddess of the Skrulls. The Deviant branch later split into two more groups, the modern Skrulls and an anomaly called the Dire Wraiths, a parasitic race that could still shapeshift and had knowledge of magic, but were not as technologically advanced as the Skrulls.
The modern Skrulls originate from the planet of Skrullos and were originally a mercantile civilization, primarily interested in free trade and willing to share their technology with all races they deemed worthy. When they encountered a new race, they simply transformed themselves to resemble that race. The Skrull empire that resulted from these contacts was based on free trade and mutual cooperation.
The Skrulls were once a peaceful space-faring race of merchants long ago until then they met the Kree, a hostile culture of alien warriors. Everything changed since the unfortunate encounter with the Kree, the Skrulls decided to train themselves to combat against their sworn enemies. However, violence and conquest are now the Skrulls' way of life.
The Deviant Skrulls have established the oldest known continuous interstellar empire in the universe. They have conquered or colonized every suitable planet in the Andromeda galaxy and their empire has reached neighboring galaxies. It is an empire which has laid waste to a thousand galaxies. Within this intergalactic empire are trillions of Skrulls, and numerous sentient species. It is an empire with a totalitarian monarchy, ruled by an emperor or empress with prelates in charge of quadrants and governors running individual worlds. Assisting the emperor is the Imperial Council, the High Command, the Priests of the Mind (Court Telepaths), and the Priests of the Sciences (Court Scientists).
It has not always conquered alien worlds. There are worlds that have willingly allowed themselves to be absorbed by the Skrull Empire. Those worlds that do so are permitted varying degrees of autonomy. Even those races that are conquered by the Skrulls may be permitted to serve the empire in a semi-authomous fashion, such as the Yirbek who had a small interstellar empire and were conquered by the Skrulls. Who now serve the Skrulls as mercenaries in minor interstellar conflicts, and even have their own interstellar fleet. All worlds in the Skrull Empire, whither they were conquered or peacefully absorbed, are represented in the imperial government by Skrulls. The Skrull Empire also has signed treaties with those worlds and races which they deemed pose no threat to the empire, and maintains profitable trading relationships with them.
The Skrulls have been at war with the Kree for over 10 million years. They have hunted and exterminated the diabolical, vampiric, & parasitic Dire Wraiths whenever feasible. Another long-standing enemy of theirs is the Badoon, a reptilian race often allied to the Kree. They are a member of the Intergalactic Council, which is made of up of the main interstellar powers in the Local Group of galaxies (Shi'ar, Kree, Spartoi, Brood, & the Annihilation Wave). If there is a greater threat to the Local Group of galaxies or to the universe in general, the Skrulls have worked with the members of that Council to deal with that threat.
It appears to be the most resilient empire in the cosmos, as it has never been shown to be completely conquered by an outside force. It may lose planets to invaders or celestial beings, have parts of the empire devastated by invaders or the Cosmic Cube, or suffer a civil war and warlordism but never has a foreign power conquered the whole Skrull empire or race. Unlike their rivals, the Kree Empire who have been conquered twice in recent memory (1st the Shi'ar Empire and then the Phalanx) and the Shi'ar Imperium who were recently conquered by the Kree.
It was the Skrulls who have come closest to succeeding in their invasion of Earth among all the alien races who attempted to conquer or destroy the Earth in the "Prime Reality" (e.g. the Dire Wriaths, Kree, Brood, Phalanx, Badoon, Kronans, Plodex, Makluans, etc). They actually succeeded in conquering Earth, an achievement that only Thanos achieved a decade later though neither held the world for long. Neither the insectoid Brood or the techno-organic Phalanx have been shown to have had success in infiltrating the Skrull Empire, unlike the Kree & Shi'ar dominions who were infiltrated by both. The Skrulls, in turn, had an infiltrator of theirs (Nenora) who secretly ruled for a time the Kree Empire and it was Skrull infiltrators who almost brought down the Shi'ar Imperium via atrocities they had the Shi'ar military commit on its own people. Unlike the Shi'ar (with the human mutant Vulcan) or the Kree (with the Inhuman Black Bolt), the Skrulls have not had the humiliation of a hostile foreigner taking the throne.
Skrulls are an expansionist race with their own version of Manifest Destiny. Who believe that all worlds are destined to be Skrull worlds. That they must bring peace to the cosmos, and to do that the Skrulls must subjugate or conquer every race and world in the universe. Skrull society consists of castes of which the known ones are the nobility, the warrior caste, the scientist caste, the priest caste, and the worker caste.
Socially the Skrulls run the gamut in lifestyle and careers. Though the Skrulls are known as being a ferocious warrior race, the majority of Skrulls live peaceful lives similar to those of most sentient races. Families that consist of a father, mother, and children. People with their own dreams, aspirations, and hopes. Many of them are religious, having faith in the Skrull gods. Skrulls have been known to make sacrifices for their children, even dying for them. It is a people which enjoys art, even its warriors who listen to non-martial music.
They are a race with their own concept of honor. Debts are repaid, especially if one saves the life of a Skrull or a loved one (e.g. daughter). Despite developing genocidal biological weapons, they have refused to use such horrendous weapons, even against their oldest enemies, the Kree. Skrulls respect and honor those of great courage, going so far as to give their greatest foe their highest honor. There are those among the warrior caste that will face their foes in equal numbers, even if they outnumber them only a specific number will go into battle.
Every Skrull is conscripted into the military upon reaching the correct age. Deserters are pursued and face the death penalty if caught. Training for the warrior caste is brutal, and only the strong live to graduate. Skrull warriors are fanatical and will often fight to the last rather than surrendering. The Skrull military uses martial music, including war chants that are broadcast to their warriors for hours, driving them into a frenzy. A Skrull warrior is taught to kill rather than wound, and to be merciless in battle. They have no qualms about slaughtering civilians or innocents. Obliterating worlds or massacring populations without a legitimate military reason though, is something that the Skrulls find both wasteful and distasteful.
The Skrull armada is a vastly powerful interstellar fleet, consisting of thousands of warships from scout ship and patrol ships to mile-long and city-sized capital ships to planetoid sized worldships. Starships of incredible power, with the smallest capable of delivering kiloton or megaton type attacks with a concentrated beam blast. Capital ships may be armed with planet destroying missiles, which can turn a world into a ball of hellfire and the most powerful of them being able to shatter gas giant planets. Skrull starships are deployed individually, in squadrons, or in fleets that can consist of hundreds of starships. They also have weaponry that can blow up stars.
For waging battle in a planet, there is the Skrull army. Which defends Skrull worlds, occupies recently conquered worlds, and invades enemy worlds. They are deployed in units as large as divisions. Most of the Skrull warriors lack visible armor, but a minority of the forces (shock troops and commandos) are heavily armored. They are supported by a variety of armored and shielded vehicles, both aerial and ground. The ground vehicles can be over a dozen ft tall in height. In addition the ground forces have mecha, both two-legged and multi-legged walkers, and humanoid robots which can me multi-story tall. Some of their vehicles have weaponry powerful enough to kill lower tier gods.
Serving in the Skrull military are super soldiers, known as the Super-Skrulls. It's a program that turns volunteers into Super-Skrulls and grows Super-Skrull clones. These Super-Skrulls are usually given the superhuman powers of an Earth superhuman but sometimes those of an alien (e.g. members of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard or the Silver Surfer). Members may receive the superhuman powers of one individual or several individuals. Originally this was done via bionic implants and power transmission facilities/satellites. Recent Super-Skrulls have their powers given to them at the genetic level and no longer need external power boosts. The Super-Skrull program has its own training facilities and they may be deployed individually, in squadrons, or in armies of hundreds or thousands. Super-Skrulls are used to support both the interstellar fleet and the ground forces, as shock troops during assaults, as covert operatives (dopplegangers), as sleeper agents, and to defend Skrull worlds.
During their age-long battle with the Kree, the Skrulls discovered that Earth was a key point in the galaxy in attacking the Kree's home planet, so they were resolved to take over the earth and destroy its inhabitants. They first saw the Fantastic Four as their main threat, so they tried to dispose of them, but failed. Since then, the Skrulls have waged war on almost every hero in the Marvel universe, even launching a mass invasion by impersonating all of the main superhumans on earth.
In one attempt to get rid of the Fantastic Four the Skrulls created the Super-Skrull by taking each of the FF's DNA and putting it into one of their warriors, Kl'rt.
During the Kree-Skrull war, the Skrulls developed a code of honor that whenever any of them were captured by their enemies, they would commit suicide to protect their own kind. When Talos the Untamed was captured by the Kree but refused to kill himself, he was disgraced by the Skrull Empire and branded as "Talos the Tamed", prompting him to redeem himself and regain his original title.
Avengers: Kree-Skrull War
The Kree Empire's Supreme Public Accuser, Ronan the Accuser had wrested control of the Kree Empire from the Supreme Intelligence and attacked the Skrulls, reigniting hostilities. The Avengers become involved once the Super Skrull kidnaps Captain Marvel, and in turn, they battle a Kree Sentry robot, three of the original Skrulls that had fought the Fantastic Four, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, rogue Inhumans and legions of Skrulls. The Supreme Intelligence ends the immediate conflict by revealing to Avengers' ally Rick Jones that he has vast mental potential, which is then used to freeze all combatants in place. The Supreme Intelligence announces that, while the Kree and Skrulls have reached genetic dead ends, the human race displays incredible untapped potential. It was revealed years later that the conflict produced a Kree-Skrull hybrid, Hulkling, who is the child of one-time lovers Captain Marvel and the Skrull Princess Anelle.
Later the cosmic being Uatu the Watcher adjudicates a duel between champions from both races: Colonel Bel-Dann of the Kree and Warlord Raksor of the Skrulls. After one year of conflict, the duel remains deadlocked and is ultimately abandoned with no resolution. Years later during a conflict with Xandar that included the Fantastic Four and the Young hero Nova (Richard Rider), Emperor Dorrek VII's wife, Empress R'klll, stages a coup and kills him to become ruling Empress.
Empress R'klll's reign is short-lived, however, as the greatest blow to the Skrulls arrives in the form of the World Devourer, Galactus. After his Herald Nova (Frankie Raye) annihilates the Skrull fleet, Galactus devours Tarnax IV, killing billions of Skrulls, including R'klll and the Princess Anelle. With the destruction of the central government, the Skrull Empire has collapsed into hundreds of bickering factions. Their galaxy is filled with Governors who have declared themselves to be Emperor of the Skrulls and soon a civil war began. The Shi'ar maintain a heavy presence in the former empire as well, constantly dealing with packets of resistance.
The Second Kree-Skrull War
Later Reed Richards discovered that yet another Governor-turned-Emperor, Zabyk, had created a genetics bomb, which, when it exploded made all the Skrulls lose their shape-shifting abilities. Whatever form they were in they were stuck in at the time of the explosion.
In desperation, since without their shapeshifting powers they were vulnerable, they managed to kidnap the herald of Galactus, Nova, in an attempt to get Galactus to destroy Kree worlds for them. Their plot failed when the Silver Surfer helped Galactus rescue Nova in exchange for his freedom from Earth.
When one of the Celestials made an appearance, this scared the Skrulls into starting a second war with the Kree to show they were not powerless. The attack was first made by Kylor, one of five governors claiming to be Emperor. He had a spy in the Kree Empire, Nenora, who gave him the early edge. They tried to hide their secret weakness at all costs from the Kree.
Kylor was eventually betrayed by Nenora, as was the entire Skrull race. She assumed the power of the empire and wished to keep it for herself. It was Empress S'byll who stepped up to control the Skrulls and finish the war. She was able to resurrect the Super Skrull and he returned to find the empire in shambles. They tricked the Silver Surfer into attacking a Badoon fleet, which he was not aware were allied with the Kree. Since the Kree waged war on the Surfer, he allied himself with the Skrulls to save Zenn-La from destruction.
To restore their powers, the Super Skrulls DNA needed to be transferred to S'byll, because only a female could spread the ability to the other Skrulls. The Surfer helped them to power a machine that would return the Empress' shape shifting abilities. The device was successful. With this power, she was able to restore every Skrull she touched and became the true Empress of the Skrulls.
She and Super Skrull waged war with the Kree with the help of the Silver Surfer. She replaced Super Skrull with Captain Reptyl (who much later became Reptyl Prime and he helped to change her into an emotionless reptile. But Reptyl was betrayed by one of his own and the Skrull fleet was utterly destroyed by the Kree. S'byll and Silver Surfer went alone to attack the Kree homeworld of Hala.
Gaining the knowledge that Nenora was actually a Skrull gave them the advantage. S'byll gave her shape-shifting abilities back to her, crippling her and showing the Kree her true self. A peace treaty was created.
The Skrulls eventually broke that peace treaty as they kept their military drive and prefer to fight rather than negotiate. Among the other races contained within the Skrull Empire are the Druff, Guna, Kallusina, Morani, Pheragot, Queega, Tekton, and Yirbek races. Other races remain independent, whether through treaties or open resistance. Such races include the Clegrimites, Gegku, Krylorians, Wilameanis, and Xandarians. The Skrull-Xandarian war with the Xandarians recently ended with the destruction of Xandar by the supervillainess Nebula.
Skrulls are meanwhile involved in numerous other activities. They were revealed to have conquered a medieval planet and abandoned it after its inhabitants perished. Skrull Prime Ten battled the Fantastic Four and Captain Mar-Vell. There is a lone appearance of Queen Akilll of the Skrull. Alone, the Skrull poisoned Vera Gantor to force the Avengers to seek the Resurrection Stone on his behalf. The Skrulls sent their General Zedrao to give the dying Captain Mar-Vell the Royal Skrull Medal of Honor for having been a worthy foe of the Skrulls.
Some time later a Skrull called Paibok the Power-Skrull mounts a campaign to invade Earth, using another Skrull called Lyja as an infiltrator. The plan involved secretly replacing the real Alicia Masters, The Thing's blind lover. The plan fell through when she instead seduced Human Torch and the two eventually married one another. The long running facade eventually came to light and the group discovered that the real, human Alicia was actually being held captive by the Skrull nation and Lyja defects, having fallen in love with the Human Torch . The Fantastic Four rescued her, but Lyja seemingly died in the process as she sacrificed herself to save Johnny when Paibok attacked.
Paibok later revealed to Devos the Devastator that she was still alive. Paibok, with the assistance of Devos, awoke Lyja from her comatose state, also bestowing her with the power to fly and fire energy blasts from her hands (becoming "Lyja the Lazerfist"). These powers were later revealed to come from a special device implanted into her. Joining them in search of vengeance, the three arrived on Earth, and isolated and battled the Torch at Empire State University. Panicking, the Torch burst into his Nova Flame and destroyed the campus. Alongside Devos and Paibok, Lyja witnessed a battle between the Fantastic Four and an alternate Fantastic Four. However, Lyja still bore feelings for the Torch and once again betrayed her cohorts to side with the Fantastic Four which ended with the Fantastic Four destroying the "Skrull War World", the Skrulls' largest attack ship.
The Skrulls and the X-Men
A group of Skrulls traveled to Earth where they began plotting to invade the planet once again. They were however at some point approached by Apocalypse who wanted to lure together twelve powerful mutants that he needs to ascend to godhood. At the same time, the body of the Living Monolith, who had been hurled out into the far reaches of space by Thor, is found and brought back to Earth. On Earth, a mutant Skrull named Fiz sneaked into Xavier's mansion to tell them urgent news of trouble: the Skrulls have allied themselves with someone powerful and the only thing he knows is that there are twelve mutants that can't be harmed and that something terrible is going to happen. Fiz also reveals the existence of a subtype of Skrulls that possess innate powers like Earth's mutants. Deemed outcasts by the others Skrulls, they were hunted by the Empire.
After the eventual defeat of Apocalypse, Professor Xavier left into space to train them, giving them the name Cadre K. Cadre K and Xavier returned to Earth during the Kree's attempt to overtake the planet by turning it into an intergalactic prison. A wounded Z'Cann attempted to pass on vital information to Rogue. Their physical contact affected Rogue's powers for some time. The information was received and the heroes were reunited with Bishop.
The Skrull Empire is the first of the major interstellar empires to be invaded by the forces of Annihilus. The Annihilation Wave's superweapon, the Harvester of Sorrow, physically destroys dozens of Skrull planets but it was eventually destroyed by Kl'rt the Super-Skrull. The Skrulls then joined Richard Rider's United Front to fight against Annihilus. In the aftermath, the Skrulls unsuccessfully attempt to convince Hulkling to become their new Emperor.
In the storyline Secret Invasion, a flailing Skrull empire, under the leadership of newcomer Queen Veranke, makes an all-out effort to infiltrate and conquer Earth. It is revealed that the Skrulls were already infiltrating Earth for quite sometime by capturing and replacing many of Earth's heroes, which was now followed by the main assault group. This wave of Skrulls forms many new Super-Skrulls, with each possessing the abilities of several different heroes. Their invasion ultimately fails, costing the life of Veranke, and reducing their numbers even further. Even their Gods are slain, and the Japanese God of Evil Amatsu-Mikaboshi takes over their Pantheon, leading to the events of Chaos War.
Infinity and a New Home
During the storyline Infinity, several planets that the Skrulls settled on began being targeted by the Builders and while the Silver Surfer tried to save most of them, the Skrulls' population was once more decimated. Kl'rt later represented the Skrull Empire as a member of the Galactic Council, allied with the Avengers in the fight against the builders. After the Avengers' victory over the Builders, Kl'rt becomes the new Emperor of the Skrulls where they settle on Tarnax II, finally finding a new homeworld after years of losses.
Traits and Abilities
Skrulls are green-skinned humanoids with large pointed ears like elves or goblins, red or green eyes, and chins with several vertical folds or wrinkles in the skin below their mouths. Skrulls are known for genetic and molecular instability, and genetic diversity, due to Celestial experimentation creating the Skrull "Deviants" (now the only surviving Skrulls).
The Skrulls are known for their physical malleability and ability to change to any size, shape, or color at will, taking on the appearance but not the characteristics of other beings and objects within a volume range of .75 to 1.5 times the Skrull's original volume. Skrulls are able to assume virtually any form, be it organic (e.g., cows or wild predators ) or inorganic (e.g., lamp ).
As a result, the Skrulls excel at spying and infiltration. Skrulls are also able to use their shapeshifting abilities to form weapons (e.g., blades and clubs) with parts of their bodies, making them dangerous hand-to-hand combatants. Their sexual dimorphism is roughly the same of a human being, but their orientation is more complex since they can change their genders at will. Indeed, once casually said that, for a Skrull, changing gender is comparable to a human being changing their hair color.
Within the Skrull race, there are some who possess telepathy and some of them serve the Skrull royals as Priests of the Mind. Among the Skrulls, there are currently two sub-species. One is known as War Skrulls, who have the ability to mimic the powers of other beings. The other are the Skrull mutants who possess the K-gene, which gives them mutations and/or super powers similar to the powers of Earth's mutants.
Courtesy of their advanced technology, the Skrulls have also been able to augment their abilities in certain warriors, such as the original Super-Skrull, the Power Skrull, and most recently the cadre of warriors known simply as Super Skrulls. Originally using cybernetic implants these agents were given the ability to replicate the super powers of certain Earth heroes. Later, their technology advanced to the stage that they created Super Skrulls who were genetically engineered to have those powers. Using a mixture of science and magic they also made it so they could not be discovered by telepathy, magic, technology, or mutant senses as long they were in deep cover (sleeper agents who were unaware they were Skrulls).
The Skrulls have had more success as both conquerors and in resisting conquerors in alternate realities than other alien powers, including as conquerors of Earth:
- Earth-20604: the Skrull Empire led by the billion year old Super Skrull (whose suit of armor can replicate any powers) has conquered a million worlds and exterminated most humans via giving them the "Skrull pill" which gave them superpowers but eventually killed them.
- Earth-14118: the united Skrull & Kree empire, ruled by the Skrull-Kree hybrid Dorrek VIII (son of Skrull princess Anelle & Kree warrior Mar-Vell) exterminates all life on Earth in the mid-21st century.
- Earth-32098: decades into the 21st century, the Skrulls will be allies of the X-Men. Professor Xavier establishes an intergalactic alliance of mutants (Universal X-Alliance) with the X-Men and the Skrull Cadre K forming its core.
- Earth-32000: sometime in the early 21st century, the Skrulls will no longer be hostile toward Earth and become allies of the X-Men. They come to the aid of the X-Men when the Earth is threatened by Apocalypse and his Shi'ar allies.
- Earth-3290: the Earth (and its superhuman defenders) surrendered to the Skrulls at the end of Queen Veranke's Secret Invasion.
- Earth-5692: the Skrulls conquered the Earth before the emergence of superheroes and abandoned it during the 20th century at the approach of Galactus.
- Earth-10021: the Skrulls conquered Earth during the Secret Invasion, convert billions of humans into Skrull-Human hybrids, and those billions die later due to a virus released by Norman Osborn.
- Earth-10219: the Skrulls' Secret Invasion stayed secret and the Skrulls are steadily replacing its superheroes, leaders, etc and manipulating human affairs from the shadows.
- Earth-804: the Skrull-Kree War is ended by Rick Jones (actually the Kree Supreme Intelligence), Captain Mar-Vell is made the new ruler of the Kree, princess Anelle becomes the Empress of the Skrulls, and peace is made between the two.
- Earth-9812: The Skrulls, unlike the Kree and Shi'ar, were not shown to have been conquered by the intergalactic Terran Empire with its Avengers Corps (Galactic Avengers Battalions).
- Earth-6311: The Skrulls unlike the Badoon, Shi'ar, and the Universal Church of the Truth were not shown to have been conquered by Kang the Conqueror (his home reality).
- Earth-93165: the Skrulls along with the other interstellar powers were conquered by the Kree who establish their supremacy via the Omni-Wave Projector (which destroyed the Earth). Later a coalition of rebels from various alien races (e.g. Super-Skrull) and the surviving Avengers overthrew the fascist Kree.
- Earth-906: a cancerous plague unknowingly spread by the Kree Captain Mar-Vell devastated the known universe, weakening the Kree and Skrull empires and thereby putting an end to the Kree-Skrull War.
- Earth-90111: the fascist Terran empire of the sentient android Vision conquers the Skrulls, Kree, Shi'ar, Badoon, Rigellians, and Aakon.
- Earth-91955: In this universe which was conquered by Thanos (with the Infinity Gauntlet), the Skrulls managed to resist him for 2 hours, unlike the Kree who fell within seconds.
Marvel Cinematic Universe
The Skrulls appeared in the 2019 film Captain Marvel led by Talos. However, as opposed to being ruthless conquerors depicted in the comics, they are fierce yet benevolent creatures who are victims of a genocidal war committed by the Kree Empire (led by the Supreme Intelligence). It turns out that the Skrulls refused to subjugate to the Kree Empire's tyrannical rule, and that the Supreme Intelligence ordered their genocide. Eventually, former Starforce member Vers learned the truth about her powers and origins and that she was used by the Supreme Intelligence to pinpoint the Skrulls's current location on Earth.
The Skrulls later made a cameo appearance in the after-credits scene of the 2019 film Spider-Man: Far From Home, where they (along with Fury) are boarding their ship to Earth following the supposed death of Mysterio.