The Skrulls are a spacefaring alien race in the Marvel comics fictional universe.
The Skrulls have at times being villains and at times heroes, either to specific heroes, Earth itself, or the known cosmos. It's a race that has proven themselves to be a heroic, brave, and honorable people and at other times they have been deceitful, savage, and brutal. They have been led by megalomaniac tyrants and benevolent sovereigns. It is a race and empire with a history that spans tens of millions of years and therefore it is not a surprise that their history runs the gamut.
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).
The Skrulls are a reptilian race of humanoids, whom have shapeshifting powers that enable them to alter their size, color, and/or shape at will. Skrullian females lay eggs like other reptiles but nurse their young with their mammary glands. They have been proven to be biologically compatible with mammilian humanoids, both the Kree and Humans, and can mate with them producing fully viable offspring. Skrulls are a Reptilian-Humanoid race, most are physically malleable, able to alter their shape, size, and/or color at will.
A minority of Skrulls have additional abilities. Some of the Skrulls have been shown to be telepaths. There is a Skrullian sub-species which have the power to mimic all the abilities of someone else, including superhuman powers. Among the Skrulls there is a DNA strand (K-gene) which causes mutations resulting in a mutant sub-species (K-class mutants) who have superhuman powers, in a similar manner to the human's mutant sub-species mutagenic DNA strand (X-gene).
The Skrull imperium is tens of millions of years old, which makes it the oldest continuous interstellar empire in the cosmos. In the Andromeda galaxy, the Skrulls have conquered or colonized every suitable world. A thousand races throughout the galaxy have been conquered by the Skrulls. The total population of the empire is unknown but the Skrulls alone are in the trillions. Ever since the reign of Dorrek the First (10 million years ago), the Skrull empire has been an intergalactic power as that is when it reached into the neighboring galaxies (e.g. the Milky Way galaxy's satellite galaxy known as the Greater Magellanic Cloud). It is an empire that has ravaged a thousand galaxies.
Of all the interstellar powers in the Local Group of galaxies, it has been the toughest and most resilient of them all. Despite suffering catastrophes that would end other empires, such as the Annihilation Wave, the Builders, the rogue Cosmic Cube (the Shaper of Worlds), and the Devourer of Worlds (Galactus) it has survived and continued on. Not only as a race but an intergalactic empire that has existed millions of years. Unlike their rivals, the Kree and the Shi'ar they have not been conquered by a foreign power despite being a fragmented empire.
Their bitter rivals, the Kree in the last few decades were conquered by the Inhumans, the Shi'ar, and the Phalanx, despite ruling a unified empire during the former two cases. Nearby the relatively young growing empire of the Shi'ar in turn was conquered by the Kree, though in their case they had been weakened by a civil war and invasion. Nor have they experienced a foreigner publicly or secretly seize the imperial throne, unlike the Kree (by a Skrull agent) or the Shi'ar (by the human mutant Vulcan).
In a similar manner, there have been no reports of the demonic-like Brood establishing nests in the Skrull empire nor of the techno-organic Phalanx doing the same, unlike the Shi'ar Imperium. They have never paid tribute to the intergalactic warlord Thanos, unlike many other races. Nor have they experienced the indignity of foreigners having to save their sovereign, not to mention multiple times, like with the Shi'ar and their Majestrix Lilandra (by the X-Men). Neither have they lost one of their sovereigns at the hands of Earth's superheroes, unlike the Kree (the Supreme Intelligence by the Avengers) or the Shi'ar (Emperor Vulcan by the Black Bolt).
The Skrull Empire has an absolute monarchy headed by either an emperor or empress. In charge of the quadrants are the prelates and running the individual worlds are the governors. In charge of the Skrull fleets are the admirals and generals. During times of civil war and fragmentation, the Skrulls have been ruled by rival warlords whom are generals and ex-governors, most if not all contending for the throne of the Skrull Empire. Assisting the emperor are several imperial bodies, including the Imperial Council, the High Command, the Priests of the Sciences (Royal Scientists), and the Priests of the Mind (Royal Telepaths).
Worlds that willingly joined the Skrull empire are given varying degrees of autonomy. Even some races that have been conquered have been given a degree of autonomy, such as the Yirbek who possessed a small interstellar empire before they were conquered by the Skrulls. They are permitted their own interstellar fleet and serve the Skrulls as mercenaries in minor interstellar conflicts. Every world in the empire is represented by Skrulls within the imperial government, regardless as to whither they peacefully joined the empire or they were conquered.
Society and Culture
Being that the Skrull Empire is a regime that rules numerous races, there are numerous societies and cultures within the empire. When it comes to the Skrulls themselves, their society is organized into castes. Among the castes known so far are the aristocracy, the warriors, the scientists, the priests, and the workers. It is an expansionist race that sees itself as having a destiny, a Manifest Destiny. They believe that every single world in the cosmos will become a Skrull world. Every single race and world in the cosmos must be subjugated or conquered by the Skrulls, so that there is peace in the universe.
The Skrulls have a pantheon of Skrull gods which are headed by Kly'bn and his bride Sl'gurt. Whenever the Skrulls have conquered a race, their gods in turn have conquered the gods of that species and absorbed them into their pantheon as servitor gods of the Skrulls. The Skrull gods have thousands of slave gods, which fight for them. Many Skrulls are religious and have faith in their gods. They pray to their gods, some believe in prophecies, and a segment of the population are zealots.
When it comes to their lifestyles and careers, there is great variety among the Skrulls. Though the Skrulls have a reputation for being a ferocious warrior race, most Skrulls actually live peaceful lives. A Skrull family normally consists of a father and mother, and their children. Skrulls have aspirations, dreams, and hopes. Parents are known to willingly make sacrifices for their offspring, including giving up their lives for them. As a race the Skrulls enjoy the fine arts, even their feared warriors enjoy listening to non-martial music.
Skrulls have a code of honor, though not all follow this code. They will repay their debts, especially if one save's their life (or that of a loved one) or saved their world or people. Skrulls honor and respect enemies who have displayed great courage, even giving them their highest imperial / military honors. Among the warrior caste, some will face their enemy in equal numbers even though they may outnumber them, as their comrades observe from a distance or cheer them on. Skrull morality is such that though they had developed a doomsday biological weapon that could exterminate all Kree, they refused to use such a horrendous weapon.
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.
Skrullos is the homeworld of the Skrulls. It's a planet in the Drax system, located in the Andromeda galaxy. Nearly a billion years ago, Skrullos was visited by the cosmic gods known as the Celestials. As they had done on many worlds, they experimented on the native sentient race and genetically manipulated them to produce three different branches. One group were the normal Skrulls who had the potential to mutate, develop great powers, and perhaps one day become cosmic gods like the Celestials. Another were the Skrullian Eternals who were given superpowers and near-immortality, becoming like demi-gods, who were few in number and reproduced at a snail's pace. The last group were the Deviant Skrulls, whom were given the ability to shapeshift.
Rise of the Skrulls
As had happened on every world where the Celestials manipulated the evolution of the local species, war erupted between the rival sub-species. In which the Deviant Skrulls emerged victorious, for all intents and purposes exterminating the normal Skrulls and the Skrullian Eternals. Over time, the Skrull race stopped being warlike and became one that is scientifically minded and apparently peaceful. They spread across the stars, making contact with other alien races, and building an empire based on mutual co-operation and free trade. Part of the reason for their success was their shapeshifting abilities which facilitated contact by letting them look like them.
Eons of War
Approximately 10 million years ago, the Skrulls visited the Magellanic Cloud (satellite galaxy of the Milky Way). On a world called Hala, they encountered two races, the humanoid Kree and the Coati (sentient plants). To determine which of the two races was worthy of being supported by the Skrulls they created a test for them. The Coati who created something of great beauty were deemed the winners, unlike the Kree who built a city. Enraged the Kree slaughtered the Skrulls, reversed engineered their technology, and began a campaign of conquest across the stars. Soon they became powerful enough and bold enough to attack the Skrullian home galaxy itself, starting a Kree-Skrull War that would last millions of years.
Unfortunately the Skrulls were forced to become as vicious and brutal as the Kree themselves to survive the epic intergalactic war and they remade themselves into a warrior race. It was a war that drained the resources of both empires due to the intergalactic distances and the fact that they were too evenly matched, preventing either side from achieving a decisive victory. It was periods of war between the two and periods of a cold peace which sooner or later was broken by one side or another. Eventually due to the actions of some of Earth's superheroes (Fantastic Four and the Inhumans) working with the Watcher Uatu, the war between the Skrulls and Kree came to an end with both sides declared the victor.
Disaster was to strike the Skrull Empire as the imperial throneworld (Tarnax IV) was consumed by Galactus, the world eater. For decades the Skrull Empire was in turmoil, thrown in a civil war as various warlords fought to become the new emperor. It was a war that caused more loss of life and devastation than the fall of Tarnax IV. Which was compounded by an invasion of pirates, outlaws, and mercenaries led by the pirate Nebula. Immediately after her invasion was stopped disaster struck again by a rogue Skrull who created a weapon which disabled the shapeshifting abilities of the Skrulls, locking them into whatever form they were in at the moment.
For years, the Skrulls were able to keep the loss of their shapeshifting abilities from their ancient enemies the Kree. When the Kree finally learned the truth, a new Skrull-Kree War began, one which threatened the Skrulls with extermination. Fortunately the Skrull race was saved by the warlord S'Byll who with the assistance of Kl'rt the Super-Skrull and the Silver Surfer, was able to restore the shapeshifting powers to her people and defeated the Kree, forcing them into a cease-fire and truce with the Skrulls.
It was not to last long, for disaster was to strike the Skrull empire again in the form of the devastating Annihilation Wave. An invasion from another universe which slaughtered a million worlds in the first day, and the Skrull galaxy was right in their path into the Local Group of galaxies. Numerous worlds were lost and countless Skrulls were killed. When an alliance of interstellar powers and super heroes finally halted the Annihilation Wave, a large chunk of the Andromeda galaxy was in their hands and continued to be so after the cease-fire and peace treaty was signed.
Restoration of the Empire
Not much long afterwards, again the Skrulls endured another disaster as the billion yr old race known as the Builders had sent their fleets toward Earth to destroy that world due to a multiversal phenomenon known as the "Incursions" which was threatening the universe, which was centered on Earth. Unfortunately for the Skrulls, the Builder fleets were subjugating or destroying any world or race they came across along the way. This time the Super-Skrull was one of the main Skrull warlords and he was able to unite the various warlords. He brought them into the "Galactic Council" an alliance of the interstellar powers in the Local Group of galaxies to face the Builder threat.
Though they suffered setbacks, eventually the Galactic Council and its super-hero allies from Earth (the Avengers) were able to turn the tide and defeat the Builders, after which they liberated those worlds that had fallen to the Builders' agents. Partly out of gratitude to Earth's heroes, the Super-Skrull Kl'rt led his Skrull forces in helping the heroes liberate their world from the intergalactic warlord Thanos and his armada of mercenaries, pirates, and outcasts (The Black Order). Afterwards, the Skrulls made their hero and champion Kl'rt, the emperor of a restored Skrull empire. He has established a new throneworld on the planet Tarnax II.
To the humans of Earth, the Skrulls are for the most part villains. Not because they are evil, but because the planet Earth is at a strategic location in the spaceways and is a world with powerful superhumans. Because of its strategic location, it has earned the interest of the rival Skrull and Kree empires. Because of the actions of some of its superhumans, either interfering in the affairs of the interstellar powers or threatening the cosmos itself, every interstellar power in the Local Galaxy group has an interest in what happens on Earth.
The Skrulls are an expansionist, imperialist power but they are not known for committing genocide on other races (unlike the Kree, Phalanx, or Shi'ar) nor are they known for enslaving the populations of worlds (unlike the Badoon or the Brood). While they will use outright military force to conquer worlds, their preference is to infiltrate a world and bring about it's conquest as smoothly and secretly as possible. Worlds or races that pose no threat to the Skrulls are left alone. The Skrulls will sign treaties with them and maintain profitable trading relationships with those races or worlds.
How the Skrulls interact with their neighbors depends on the emperor or empress on the throne. Some sovereigns like Dorrek VII are tyrannical, power hungry megalomaniacs. Other rulers like R'Klll and S'Byll are rulers who care about their people and while they are willing to go to war to defend the Skrull empire, they have not been shown to wage any wars of conquest and have actually ended wars via peace treaties or cease-fires.
To defend the peace in the cosmos, the Skrulls have worked with other races. One well known case was 1000s of yrs ago when the Skrulls, Kree, Shi'ar, and others joined forces to establish a peacekeeping team of superhumans. They regularly meet with the other races of the known cosmos in an assembly of sorts to address the pressing issues of the cosmos. As they are one of the major interstellar powers (actually an intergalactic power) of the Local Group of galaxies, they are members of the Galactic Council.
In the near future, while in some timelines the Skrulls are a warmongering threat to the Local Group of galaxies and humanity, by themselves or allied to the Kree (or the Shi'ar), and other future timelines that is not the case. In those timelines, they have been shown for example to be allies of Earth or the mutant super-heroes of the X-Men, or they and the Kree have put aside their rivalry and are part of a united Skrull-Kree dominion.
The Skrulls have mastered a wide variety of sciences and technologies.
- Cosmic Cube: Which can reshape a galaxy to it's user's desire.
- Intergalactic warp drives (sub-space): Giving them the ability to travel intergalactic distances in minutes.
- Intergalactic communications: see above.
- Intergalactic scanners / sensors: Cosmos Radar which spans galaxies and can identify a starship that lands on Earth.
- Intergalactic power transmission: Asteroid sized power station satellite transmitting power across intergalactic distances.
- Intergalactic transport ray: Able to transport both organics (e.g. humanoid) and inorganics (e.g. bomb) to a destination or from a location with pinpoint accuracy.
- Shapeshifting technology: Humanoid robot that mimics the abilities of Skrulls.
- Miniaturization technology: Able to miniaturize a gun to the size of an action figure accessory and reverse.
- Shape-changing technology: Used to disguise their ships while hiding on a planet.
- Brain-wave scanning: Can scan and track an individual's brain waves from orbit.
- Robotics: Humanoid sized robots to multi-storied Mecha.
- Cybernetics: Bionic parts, cybernetic implants, and cyborgs.
- Genetic engineering: Super-Skrulls (given the powers of one or more superhumans).
- Time travel: Copied from the mind of Mr. Fantastic.
- Interdimensional travel: Copied from the mind of Mr. Fantastic.
Regarding the art of war, the Skrulls have created a great war machine able to devastate worlds and ravage galaxies.
- Galactic Defenses: Energy dampening field used to "cloak" the populated worlds of the Andromeda galaxy from the world eater, Galactus (worked for 1000s of years)
- Weapons of Mass Destruction:
- Planet Smasher (aka, Cannon with intergalactic range, able to destroy worlds)
- Star Killer weapons (destroy stars by making them go supernova)
- Thermonutron missiles (they burn all the life on a world's surface within minutes and within a few hours will shatter a gas giant)
- Planetary Defenses: Force field and batteries of ground-to-space pulse cannons.
- City-sized Starships: Miles-long and mountain-sized battleships.
- Worldships: Planetoid-sized Destructor-class Cruisers, which are disguised as asteroids.
- Energy weapons: Photon blasters and torpedos, pulse cannons, and neutrino beams.
- Mecha: Humanoid robots that are multi-story high and multi-legged walkers that are one or two-stories high.
- Biological weapons: Genocidal agents that can be customized to target the DNA of specific races, that are extremely infectious and for which no cure can be found.
- Super-Skrulls: Warriors given the powers of alien (e.g. human) superhumans. Originally it was done by using technology (cybernetics and power transmission), but now it's done via genetic manipulation and they are permanently given the powers.
- Brain-wave Camouflage: Prevents the discovery of Skrull infiltrators by telepathy, magic, technology, or mutant senses.