This article contains Captain Marvel spoilers…
Most of us went into Captain Marvel not knowing entirely what to expect from the MCU’s version of the villainous Skrulls, who have popped up time and again in Marvel’s comics since the early 60s. The film’s trailers more than hinted that Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers would be pitted against the shape-shifting alien race, who had come to Earth in the 1990s for some purpose or other, but that was about the limit of what we were led to expect. Given any prior knowledge from the comics that the Skrulls were, well, bad guys, it made sense to presume that they’d join the roster of the MCU’s bad guys, too.
But Marvel decided to flip the notion on its head. Talos and his band of Skrulls ultimately turned out to be refugees, and Carol’s new Kree pals were the ones on the wrong side of history, pursuing a relentless agenda to hunt the Skrulls to extinction. The Kree being terrible wasn’t a massive reveal in itself, of course, as we’d previously seen Ronan The Accuser et al playing the villains in James Gunn’s Guardians Of The Galaxy back in 2014.
Starring as head Skrull Talos with remarkable ease, sarcasm and pathos in Captain Marvel, considering his heavy prosthetic makeup, was Ben Mendelsohn, a man whose star is on the rise after appearances in Ready Player One and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, as well as a juicy role on Netflix’s Bloodline.
Mendelsohn recently paused an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm (really) to talk with Mike Ryan at Uproxx about joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and trying to keep the Skrull twist under wraps in Captain Marvel, playing up to the “bad guy bad guy” stuff that prededed the film’s release. He felt there was a lot of room for development when it came to the iconic Marvel villains.
“One of the first things I did when I knew I was going to be playing the Skrull, I went back to their first appearance in Fantastic Four in like 1962. And they start out as kind of these tadpole-y, kind of insipid, kind of semi-frog amphibian malevolent dudes that go and shape-shift into the Fantastic Four. And then they do a jewelry heist, wreck a water tower or some bullshit like that, right?
It’s all very Cold War and mustache twirly and all of that sort of business. And then you’ve got the next decade of development, of what the Skrull’s become. So one of my first kind of conclusions and liberation points was, you know what? There’s a Skrull, this is their first appearance. This is how they were first conceived. And they bear very little resemblance anymore to how they appeared when we first meet them. So you can throw it out. You can throw out the book of orthodoxy on it. Because it’s not there, you know? It’s not there.
So the idea that there’s some kind of orthodoxy about them is completely discounted, because once you go to the start point, you go ‘Okay, they’re Skrulls, but they’ve changed enormously.’ So, my point with that is, that it’s all of these characters, and all of them will change some of the characteristics of the participants. And this has forever been a feature of comic book universe. So I just looked on it like that. I just figured, well, okay.”
The actor also reflected on the state of the superhero movie genre in general, and seems to feel positively about the way it’s developing recently, with the ongoing behind the scenes influence of directors like Captain Marvel‘s Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, Thor: Ragnarok‘s Taika Waititi, and Black Panther‘s Ryan Coogler:
The superhero movie is, really, the movie of our time. Like it, lump it, whatever! But, really, what’s started to happen with it, in the last five or so years, is that the ball has really started to be moved forward significantly in terms of heart of storytelling. And it’s kind of the joy of storytelling. I’ll just pull a couple out of the hat. You’ve got Black Panther. You’ve got Ragnorok. You’ve got Logan. And Doctor Strange I thought was awesome. I mean, damn, they’re getting really good.
While he wouldn’t be drawn into teasing the return of Talos in future MCU movies, it would be great to see him pop up again – both Talos and Goose were great additions to the big screen Marvel universe.
In the meantime, Mendelsohn’s next big project will be leading a brand new Stephen King adaptation series called The Outsider, alongside Paddy Considine. It should arrive on HBO in early 2020.