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Credit: Marvel Comics

Has the Marvel Cinematic Universe been planning a Secret Invasion all along?

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Apr 4, 2018, 1:00 PM EDT

With the release of Avengers: Infinity War growing ever closer, many fans have begun to assume (or really, hope) that Captain Marvel will make an appearance either in a secret cameo or in a post-credits scene. And with recent set photos from her solo film showing off the initial suit that Carol Danvers wears as Captain Marvel, the anticipation for the first glimpse of the uniform in all its red, blue, and gold glory is rising.

Whilst Ant-Man and the Wasp is the next entry in the MCU after Infinity War, Captain Marvel premieres just in front of Avengers 4. At San Diego Comic-Con last summer, Marvel boss Kevin Feige took to the stage to show off concept art of Carol in her suit fighting against a famous alien race that exists in the comics, the Skrulls. He also spoke to IGN about the decision to bring them to the screen along with Captain Marvel.

"Captain Marvel will be our 21st film in the Cinematic Universe, and we've never seen the Skrulls. How come? We thought it would be fun," Feige said. "There's an entire section of our comics that deal with the Kree/Skrull war, and we haven't tapped into that at all, and we thought that would be an amazing, huge part of the mythology to belong to Captain Marvel.”

Feige, the man running the Marvel Cinematic Universe, clearly says there is a specific reason the Skrulls threat hasn't been revealed until now. Obviously, part of that lies with building up audiences to a point where shape-shifting aliens become normal in the universe Marvel has spent 10 years constructing. But after Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok, that doesn't seem like a problem anymore — audiences have already seen some weird, intergalactic stuff. But it could also mean that the Skrulls are suspiciously absent because they're hiding.

So if Captain Marvel does end up secretly making her debut during Infinity War, that would be a perfect setup to her solo film. If the potential scene is set in the present day, what exactly is it that brings her back to Earth? Perhaps it's the death of someone during Infinity War who is revealed to be a Skrull, hiding as part of a larger invasion force.

Marvel Studios

In an interview with Screen Rant, the Russo brothers weren't sure whether to confirm or deny that she would appear in Infinity War but did acknowledge that Brie Larson had been onset in costume. And even though Disney has outright said she won't appear, it wouldn't be the first time an official announcement has been made by a studio to keep a surprise twist secret.

Captain Marvel will take place during the '90s, with Carol attempting to stop the Kree-Skrull war. It's a storyline that will likely take cues from Avengers #89-97, which came out back in 1971. This would leave roughly a 20-year gap between Carol's solo film and her first team appearance in Avengers 4. This would leave plenty of time for the Skrulls to formulate a plan since they'll likely be defeated in some way by Captain Marvel. More importantly, it gives them time to infiltrate Earth.

In Marvel Comics, the Skrulls returned after their war with the Kree to claim Earth as part of their Empire in the 2008 crossover event Secret Invasion. The event saw the Skrulls play a long game; over many years, they replaced figures of power across Earth, using their shapeshifting powers to infiltrate every industry, government, security force, and various superhero team across the world. Secret Invasion involves nearly all of the heroes in the Marvel Universe at that time and boasts plenty of shock reveals about who might be a Skrull under their mask.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Only furthering this theory, even the finer details of the MCU line up with Secret Invasion.

The comics story is set post-Civil War, taking place after the death of Captain America — and we know that Chris Evans is expected to leave his role as Cap behind after Avengers 4. It also puts Hawkeye in a very different costume, as he wears a gold and black outfit and goes by the name "Ronin." Since MCU Hawkeye was broken out of the Raft, it's likely he'd need a new identity or codename — and Jeremy Renner has been spotted on the set of Avengers 4 wearing gold-trimmed black boots and armor underneath a large coat.

Director James Gunn has also recently confirmed that the Skrull language has already made appearances. During Guardians of the Galaxy, the language appears on the tablet that Rocket is using on Xandar. And an early draft of The Avengers (2012) included the Skrulls as the invasion force over the Chitauri, so the idea of using the villainous race has clearly been bubbling away for some time.

But even if Avengers 4 isn't titled "Secret Invasion," the storyline could be teased across the next 18 films in the MCU. After all, it's taken us this long to set up Thanos and Infinity War. At this point, who knows what other surprises Feige has in store.