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This Captain Marvel post-credits scene may have been a huge lie

Contains spoilers for Captain Marvel

Post-credits scenes are to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as after-dinner mints are to Olive Garden: you can't leave the theater without seeing at least one, in the same way you can't leave the restaurant without sneaking a few into your pocket. 

The latest entry into the MCU, the Brie Larson-led superhero solo flick Captain Marvel, wasn't excluded from the post-credits-scene standard in place in the overarching film franchise — including not one but two sequences after the film wrapped. They were both throughly enjoyable, just like those delectable mint-chocolate candies are, but one may have been a huge lie. 

Before we dive in, let's get everyone up to speed. 

The sequence in question is the first of the two after-film scenes in Captain Marvel, which actually came in the middle of the credits. It takes audiences to Avengers HQ in New York state in the time after Avengers: Infinity War and connects directly with what's to come in Avengers: Endgame. A handful of surviving heroes are there — Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and War Machine (Don Cheadle) — and they've gathered around a cluster of monitors to examine the death toll from Thanos' (Josh Brolin) universe-splitting Decimation that took place in the final moments of Infinity War. They're also sizing up S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury's pager, the one he used to contact Captain Marvel just before the disintegrated into space dust during Infinity War's post-credit scene and the one Captain Marvel made Kree-level upgrades to and told Fury to only light up to signal for her help when there was a real emergency happening. Fury's pager is no longer working, unfortunately, and Captain America thinks the best course of action is to have Banner reboot it and attempt to resend the message. When Black Widow quips that she'd love to meet the person on the end of Fury's transmission, the woman herself shows up: Captain Marvel appears behind the Avengers and asks, "Where's Fury?"

Sounds like a relatively normal post-movie scene featured in a Marvel movie, right? The Hollywood Reporter has a different idea. 

The outlet recently published a theory suggesting that the Captain Marvel who rocks up to Avengers HQ may not actually be the real hero. There could be a twist that takes the scene from being an exciting tie-in to Avengers: Endgame and turns it into a much more sinister moment — effectively lying to viewers in the process. 

THR argues that there's a chance Captain Marvel shown in the mid-credits scene isn't the headstrong hero we know and love but is really a Skrull, a member of the shape-shifting race of aliens who are able to disguise themselves as any person they lay eyes on. Specifically, the theory claims she a could be a Skrull from "a more Machiavellian and malicious segment" of the alien race, one that is bent on taking over Earth. 

As those who have seen Captain Marvel know, the Skrulls weren't the big bads of the movie as everyone was led to believe prior to the film's launch. The real antagonists are the Kree, another race of aliens who ruthlessly hunt down the Skrulls and displace them from their home worlds. Captain Marvel depicted the Skrulls as endangered refugees, with Carol Danvers' mentor, the Kree alien named Mar-Vell who masqueraded on Earth as a scientist named Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening), dedicating countless years to aiding the Skrulls in escaping the Kree by keeping them safe in her laboratory hidden in space. When Captain Marvel, who is part-Kree herself thanks to an explosion that imbued her with the energy of the Tesseract that Mar-Vell had built to travel at light speed, discovers that her people are the enemies and the Skrulls aren't, she changes her tune and vows to help reunite the Skrulls and find them a new home. 

So, if the Skrulls were the "victims" in Captain Marvel, why would one shape-shift into Carol and travel to meet up with the Avengers? The idea is that Endgame might plant the seeds of the storyline from Secret Invasion, the 2008 comic written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by penciller Leinil Francis Yu, inker Mark Morales, and colorist Laura Martin. Within Secret Invasion, it's revealed that Skrulls had quietly invaded Earth decades ago and had successfully replaced several of the Avengers and many other superheroes protecting the planet. The eight-issue limited series also saw Iron Man form an undercover coalition called the Illuminati (yes, really) that included Black Bolt, Reed Richards (Mister Fantastic), Doctor Strange, Charles Xavier (Professor X), and Namor in efforts to confront the Skrulls.

We know what you're thinking: Captain Marvel's painting of the Skrulls as empathetic and misunderstood creatures sort of negates the notion that Endgame or some future Marvel film would utilize any part of the Secret Invasion story, which roots itself in the idea that the Skrulls are full-on nefarious. 

However, as THR speculates, perhaps not all Skrulls are as well-disposed as the ones Captain Marvel interacted with in her standalone film. The Skrull leader Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) was especially bighearted within Captain Marvel, relaying the tragedies that the Kree-Skrull war caused his people; asking Carol, Fury, and Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) for their assistance in evading the Kree; and explaining that thousands of other Skrulls are lost in the galaxy, separated from their loved ones with no idea how to reunite.  

THR's theory has it that one faction of the displaced Skrulls is "less forgiving," its members "desperate to gain a home world by any means necessary." One such means could be invading Earth, replacing several superheroes, and carrying out their agenda to take over the planet as their new home world. 

But wait — how would one of these evil Skrulls be able to transform into Captain Marvel if they can only do such a thing after seeing the person with their own two eyes? Well, perhaps during the hero's journey through the stars to reunite the Skrulls, she encounters a group that, knowing she's a superhero who was born a human on Earth, plan to "impersonate her in preparation for the invasion of the planet." This group, THR suggests, is one that might follow a Skrull princess named Princess Veranke, the supervillainess who serves as the central antagonist in the Secret Invasion comic. She feels that Earth is the perfect place for the Skrulls to inhabit and establish as their new home, and she stops at nothing to make that happen. 

It makes sense considering there is at least a 24-year time gap between the end of Captain Marvel, which takes place in 1995, and the start of Avengers: Endgame, presumed to be set in the present day in 2019. What is she doing in all that time? What kept her so busy that she couldn't rush to the aid of the Avengers when aliens were attacking New York City? The most plausible answer is that she was entangled in some serious Skrull business — and there's a possibility that included meeting a sinister sector of the Skrulls who might follow her to Earth after she gets the page from Fury. Because she was never mentioned in connection with the Avengers until the very end of Infinity War, there's truly no telling what kind of adventures (and misadventures) Carol experienced while Earth's Mightiest Heroes were defending the planet. 

From our vantage point, if Marvel does choose to implement a plot plucked from the Secret Invasion comic run, it likely won't be featured in its full form in Endgame. We can't deny the possibility that Captain Marvel could be a Skrull (maybe Princess Veranke, like THR claims) in that mid-credits scene. And yeah, it's understandable that the Skrulls might want to invade Earth after half the population died following Thanos' Decimation, considering the planet and its people are at their most vulnerable. 

But having Captain Marvel not be her true self but just a Skrull parading around as the hero in Endgame slashes at her importance within the MCU. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has long said that Captain Marvel is the strongest and most powerful hero the MCU has ever seen, so to reveal that she was a Skrull the whole time in Endgame would be pretty insulting to the character. She just got her own movie, for Pete's sake — it would be terrible to turn her into a literal villain in the very next MCU film. And besides, folding the Secret Invasion story into the action of Endgame, believed to focus on the surviving heroes concocting a plan to take down Thanos and reverse his mass-murdering snap, would make for a pretty overwhelming movie that could come across feeling like it's doing too much all at once. 

This isn't to say that Skrulls won't ever appear in another non-Captain Marvel movie in the MCU down the line, or that Endgame might take the first step into setting up the Secret Invasion storyline within the MCU. 

Feige told Slashfilm a few days after the launch of Captain Marvel on March 8 that Marvelites shouldn't view the Skrulls as wholly good, and hinted that the characters won't be exclusively portrayed as positive figures moving forward. 

"I don't think it means that at all. I think it means that the Skrulls are as diverse and a multilayered as any other intelligent life form. Certainly like humanity itself. And we happen to see good ones. I think there are probably better ones out there as well, like there are with any fully realized characters," said Feige. "But yes, the idea is certainly was to subvert the expectation of the pointy eared green aliens."

He again teased the potential for a Secret Invasion storyline appearing in a Marvel movie when speaking with ComicBook.com

"Just like not all humans are bad, and not all humans are good, I think Skrulls probably have a variety of moralities amongst them," Feige said. "When they can do what they can do, it probably gets very tempting. So, it's fun to have introduced this concept and see where it goes … [Captain Marvel is] with us now in the present day. But those intervening years between her soaring off with Talos and answering Fury's call, we think is ripe with potential for storytelling."

Given that Phase 4 of the MCU is said to embrace the cosmic side of Marvel comic stories, a Skrull-filled, Secret Invasion-inspired movie that includes an alien walking and talking like Captain Marvel could be in the cards. Never say never.