Super Skrulls aren’t coming to the MCU. They’re already here. In Secret Invasion‘s third episode Gravik informed his Council he’s working on turning their species into a race of super powered beings. But he’s already imbued himself with one incredible ability that will let him take on the Avengers: super healing. Gravik instantly mended his sliced hand thanks to Extremis, a genetic mutation featured in Iron Man 3. That explosive serum didn’t work out very well for humans, but it looks totally under control in an alien body. Bad news for mankind, but good news for Talos. Extremis might be why G’iah isn’t as dead as the Gravik believes.
What Is Extremis from Iron Man 3?
Extremis is a type of nanotechnology that rewrites DNA. It uses a body’s own bio-electricity to chemically recode and enhance the part of the brain responsible for healing. Extremis not only makes it possible for users to survive and overcome otherwise fatal injuries—it lets them regenerate entire body parts.
In addition to super healing abilities, Extremis also grants users enhanced physical capabilities similar to a super soldier. The amazing technology also greatly raises its subjects’ standing body temperatures. That’s why Extremis manifests in the eyes and skin as a glowing, fiery red-orange. Only, unlike Steve Rogers, those who could best control their body’s elevated core temperature could also generate great amounts of heat they could then expel in an attack. The most trained Extremis users could even shoot flames out of their mouth.
But what good is a new limb or being a human flamethrower when you’re also a ticking time bomb?
Why Was Extremis So Dangerous to Humans?
Genetic biologist Dr. Maya Hansen originally created Extremis, but she had trouble stabilizing it. The plants she originally tested on exploded shortly after getting the serum. She got a big assist making her work less volatile from a very drunk Tony Stark in 1999. He provided a formula that greatly advanced Hansen’s project, but he did not ultimately solve her problem long term.
Hansen then joined forces with Advanced Idea Mechanics’ founder and CEO Dr. Adrian Killich. (She really liked his money.) Together they strengthened Extremis and moved on to a series of clinical human trials. Most of them involved veterans who’d suffered major injuries or amputations.
Extremis worked in bodies which did not outright reject it. Those subjects who didn’t accept the serum, failed to regulate their body temperature, or did not get assistance in doing so eventually exploded with the force of a bomb. Users would disintegrate in the deadly blast, leaving nothing but scorch marks of themselves behind and killing those nearby.
Why Doesn’t Extremis Seem to Cause Any Problems for Gravik?
Extremis did not make its users invulnerable. In addition to being unstable biological bombs, humans who relied on Extremis were also at greater physical risk while regenerating or healing. A strike to the brain or heart could still kill them, too.
But Gravik does not seem to suffer from any known side effects or dangers associated with Extremis. When he repaired his hand it was the only part of his body that glowed. The overheating that plagued human users in Iron Man 3 aparently isn’t a problem for him. Either he isn’t overheating or can easily regulate his body’s temperature.
Considering Secret Invasion is set in 2026 and Iron Man 3 took place in 2012, it’s more than possible scientists who continued Dr. Hansen’s work greatly advanced Extremis over the intervening years to make it completely stable. (Someone using the serum was seen fighting in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.) It’s also possible Gravik’s scientists also improved Extremis to make it safe.
However, the explanation for Gravik’s lack of issues is potentially far simpler. Skrull DNA is (obviously) very different from human DNA. Skrulls’ bodies likely handle Extremis better than Earth people ever could. And even without any other super powers, that makes him especially dangerous. Gravik is a shape-shifting super soldier who can instantly heal from almost any wound.
But is he the only Skrull who’s taken Extremis?
Is Emilia Clarke’s G’iah Really Dead on Secret Invasion?
In Secret Invasion‘s second episode Emilia Clarke’s G’iah discovered the secret lab where Gravik’s scientists are working to create Super Skrulls. On their computer she found evidence they’re working with DNA taken from Groot, a frost beast, and Cull Obsidian. That’s also where she learned they’re using Extremis.
That super healing serum would be especially valuable for someone who’d decided to double-cross a dangerous figure like Gravik.
We saw in episode three a bullet to the chest will kill a Skrull same as a human. The premiere also made clear Secret Invasion is capable of killing off a major character. But if G’iah secretly injected herself with Extremis she didn’t die during her final encounter with Gravik in episode three. She almost certainly survived a single bullet and faked her own death. Extremis provided her with the perfect way to ensure her safety if/when Gravik learned of her treason and to then get away without him knowing she’s still a threat.
Super Skrulls have already arrived in the MCU. The question is how many of them are already here. If the answer is at least two, Talos’ daughter might not be as dead as Gravik thinks.
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.