Figuring out what characters Marvel can and can't use in its cinematic universe has always been a bit of a messy venture. The shapeshifting Skrulls are just one of many sets of characters whose rights are in contention — but Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn has cleared up their situation a little bit. Earth's mightiest go into battle against the Skrulls in Secret Invasion #6. Art by Gabriele Dell'Otto and Leinil Francis Yu.
This isn't actually the first time Gunn has talked about the Skrulls — in the run up to the first Guardians Gunn spoke to the Pointless Podcast about the alien race, and why they wouldn't be in the film:
Marvel only partially owns Skrulls, and also for the record, we don't own the Badoon either. So people were asking why we have the Sakaarans in the film, we don't own the Badoon.
But, taking to social media to answer fan questions, the director has now confirmed that it is indeed Fox who co-owns the Skrull rights with Marvel — but interestingly, this time he says that Marvel could use the race in its movies, it's just specific Skrulls that are out of the question.
Some specific Skrulls are at Fox. But the Skrulls as a whole are co-owned. https://t.co/2hJYkskLZ3
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) July 6, 2016
The Skrulls have been major antagonists for a variety of Marvel heroes over the years — they're most famous for the Secret Invasion story arc, where they infiltrated Earth and shapeshifted themselves into various superheroes to go undercover as sleeper agents — but they're also heavily involved with the Kree, which Marvel has used in both its films and TV shows already. As for which specific characters are off-limits? Since Fox owns the Fantastic Four, there's a good bet that Kl'rt (better known as Super Skrull) is one such specific Skrull, considering that he has the FF's combined powers.
But hey, in a world where Sony and Marvel are willing to work together to bring Spider-Man into the fold, it seems now more than ever that Fox and Marvel could agree on something that could see the Skrulls become part of the MCU.