|First appearance||The Ultimates vol. 1, #8 (2002) (November 2002)|
|Created by||Bryan Hitch
|Notable members||Herr Kleiser|
The Chitauri are a fictional race of extraterrestrial shapeshifters that appear in publications by Marvel Comics's alternative universe, Ultimate Marvel, in the limited series The Ultimates. They were created by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch. They were created for the Ultimate universe franchise in place of the existing Marvel Comics alien species, the Skrulls, which play a similar role in the franchise's mainstream continuity. Later, Marvel would choose to distinguish between the Skrulls and Chitauri of the Ultimate universe. The species would later be adapted to other media, notably appearing in the 2012 film The Avengers as an invasion force led by Loki and even in the main Marvel universe.
Fictional species biography
The race called Chitauri appeared as Ultimate Marvel's (Earth-1610's) counterpart to the Skrulls. They are a shapeshifting alien species who have attempted to conquer the Earth, most notably during World War II and again in the early 21st century.
The Chitauri claim to be part of "the immune system of the Universe", wiping out disorder and free will wherever they find it. They seem to prefer to act behind the scenes, mimicking and influencing the social and military methods of the species they are currently infiltrating. For example, they aided the Nazis in their attempt at world conquest by providing them with the technology to create a nuclear bomb carried by an intercontinental ballistic missile. However, this attempt was thwarted by the prototype super-soldier codenamed Captain America. Through the entire conflict of World War II, the Chitauri were being driven out of their operations in Africa and Europe, even from their main Japanese training camps in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Following the end of the war, the Chitauri withdrew to make new plans.
The next attempt at conquest was more subtle (at first), involving long-term methods of manipulation such as will-inhibiting drugs in many nations' water supplies, influencing the media, and R.F.I.D. (radio-frequency identification) microchips to be implanted in schoolchildren, among other means. The Chitauri also infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D., particularly the Psi-Division which could telepathically ferret out Chitauri agents. However, S.H.I.E.L.D. was able to detect some of the low-ranking "drone" staff of the aliens, disguised as common office workers, and wiped them out in an assault led by Black Widow and Hawkeye.
The Chitauri planted false information through the compromised Psi-Division that led S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Ultimates into a trap on a small Micronesian island; due to the combined efforts of Iron Man and Thor, the Ultimates, Nick Fury and a handful of S.H.I.E.L.D. soldiers survived, but thousands of S.H.I.E.L.D. soldiers were killed and dozens of Helicarriers were destroyed.
The Chitauri then counterattacked by infiltrating the Triskelion and capturing The Wasp. The Chitauri leader (known only by his former Nazi identity as Herr Kleiser) took the Wasp to a hidden Chitauri base in Arizona. However, their location was given away when a fleet of damaged Chitauri starships suddenly entered Earth's atmosphere to hover above the formerly secret base, claiming that they were fleeing major defeats across the galaxy by their intergalactic enemies and that the remainder of their forces are forced to the "backwaters" of the Milky Way Galaxy (i.e. Earth's solar system). Disregarding Herr Kleiser's long efforts, the Chitauri ordered him to destroy Earth and its solar system with a doomsday bomb as part of a scorched-earth policy and retreat to the "lower fourth-dimension". The Ultimates and all available S.H.I.E.L.D. and military forces immediately converged on the alien fleet.
Although Iron Man and Thor were able to damage the ships (as well as disposing of the Chitauri bomb by teleporting it to the wastes of Nastrond, where its detonation caused only a small ripple in space-time), it was the Hulk who downed the majority of the fleet. At the same time, Captain America battled his old enemy Kleiser, but was unable to defeat him alone. At Captain America's urging/mocking of Kleiser touching Betty Ross (Hulk's crush), the Hulk was able to beat, dismember, and devour Kleiser. It is presently presumed that the combination of the Chitauri's series of intergalactic defeats and the destruction of the Chitauri fleet on Earth spelled the complete and total defeat of the alien race.
During the Chitauri-Kree War, an entire Chitauri (whose true forms resemble their Avengers counterparts) armada was fighting their enemies when they encountered Gah Lak Tus. When their ships were being heavily damaged by the entity, a rift in the fabric of reality brought a being from another universe, which called itself Galactus. Gah Lak Tus merged with the visitor, and created an even more powerful Galactus with need to feed. 
Powers and abilities
The Chitauri were able to mimic human form and absorb human knowledge, apparently by ingesting the bodies or brains of the humans they imitated. In their natural form, they appear to be large, and reptilian, but no clear images of their native form have been shown. Although the drone workers were nearly mindless and not much more durable than ordinary humans, the high-ranking officers such as Kleiser possessed enough strength to rival Captain America, superhuman stamina and durability, extremely rapid regeneration, and the ability to see or sense invisible objects or people. The Hulk proves to be strong enough to destroy and consume Kleiser.
Millar's conception of the Chitauri was inspired by the British conspiracy theorist David Icke. Icke believes the world is secretly run by an elite called the Illuminati who are really shape-shifting reptilian humanoids.
Comparison with Skrulls
Another race called Skrulls, physically resembling the Skrulls of the mainstream Marvel universe appear later (led by the billion-year-old Skrull Emperor, Kl'rt); these Skrulls dislike being confused with the Chitauri, whom they call terrorists. They have extremely advanced technology, but have not been observed to shapeshift. These Skrulls were seen only in an alternate timeline in which Reed Richards contacted their world via his teleporter. The events leading to that timeline were altered in Ultimate Fantastic Four #29 and contact was never made.
A new iteration of the Chitauri (inspired by their portrayal in The Avengers film) first appeared in the mainstream Earth-616 continuity as enemies of the new Nova. Sam was able to defeat an entire Chitauri armada and Titus with the Ultimate Nullifier that he stole from them in the first place. They are currently holding Sam's father Jesse as an hostage on a planet that is similar to Saturn.
In other media
- The Chitauri appear in the Ultimate Spider-Man episode "Guardians of the Galaxy". This version of the Chitauri is led by Korvac and their appearance resembles their portrayal in The Avengers film. When Rocket Raccoon's ship is pulled into the Chitauri ship, Rocket Raccoon fakes surrender so that they can free the captive members of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Afterwards, Spider-Man discovers that the Chitauri are planning to destroy the Earth. The Guardians of the Galaxy plan to run the Chitauri ship into the Sun while fighting the Chitauri forces. When their plan does not work, the Guardians of the Galaxy end up making their way towards the Dark Matter Cannon. While Nova and Spider-Man head to the Dark Matter Cannon, the Guardians of the Galaxy fight the Chitauri and Korvac. After Korvac is defeated by Groot, Nova destroys the Dark Matter Cannon and the Chitauri ship is destroyed. In "The Return of the Guardians of the Galaxy", Titus leads the Chitauri into targeting Nova's helmet while ending up in conflict with the Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man. After Titus is defeated, the remaining Chitauri escape from Earth.
- The Chitauri appear in the Avengers Assemble episode "Avengers: Impossible". Impossible Man was working on a documentary on the Chitauri until they spotted him and chased him across the galaxy. Impossible Man made a television series starring Falcon so that he can be ready to fight off the Chitauri. When a Chitauri scouting party arrived on Earth, Falcon and the rest of the Avengers ended up fighting the Chitauri to keep them from getting to Impossible Man. Falcon then convinces Impossible Man to send the Chitauri far far away from Earth by deputizing him in one scene as an Avenger. Impossible Man shapeshifts into an intergalactic missile to send the Chitauri far far away from Earth.
- The Chitauri from The Avengers film are referenced several times in the live-action television series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. In the pilot episode, the Chitauri appear via archive footage from The Avengers as Skye outlines public knowledge of superheroes and supernatural events. Additionally in the episode, Agent Ward recovers a Chitauri "neural link" from an illegal arms dealer. In the episode "F.Z.Z.T.", it was mentioned that a lot of firefighters were sent to New York after the Avengers had stopped the Chitauri invasion. Some of these firefighters from a small Pennsylvanian town discovered a Chitauri helmet and brought it back home as a souvenir. Unknown to them the helmet had a rust-like alien virus in it that slowly killed off those that were exposed to it through static electricity. Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons were able to come up with an antiserum to be the cure for the alien virus after testing it on some rats using Chitauri DNA residue found on the helmet. The Chitauri helmet was placed in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Sandbox base for safekeeping. In the episode "The Magical Place", salvaged Chitauri metal appears and is stated to be a component of the Project Centipede devices seen on the series.
- The Chitauri appear in the 2006 animated movies Ultimate Avengers and Ultimate Avengers 2 as the main antagonists of the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. Unlike their appearance in The Ultimates, they do show their true form: seven feet tall reptilian creatures with dark greenish skin, and fire blasts from their hands.
- A version of the Chitauri appear in the 2012 live-action superhero-team film The Avengers, set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as Loki's personal army and serve as the secondary antagonists of the film. In the film, the Chitauri are a race of grey-skinned, six-fingered reptilian humanoids that have a heavily cybernetic or bio-mechanical physiology. The foot-troops are shown to be as frail as ordinary humans, with Black Widow and Hawkeye able to defeat them in physical confrontations, and purplish blood is visible. These Chitauri display none of their shapeshifting capacities from the Ultimate universe, but have highly advanced technology, such as hovercraft-like skimmers, staffs that also operate as energy weapons, and large living airborne troop carriers (known as Leviathans) that resemble biomechanical arthropods or limbless reptiles, encased in mechanized armor. The Leviathans are vulnerable to Thor's lightning, the Hulk's strength, and concentrated explosions at exposed flesh. Iron Man was able to destroy a Leviathan by flying inside of it and destroying it from the inside out. The aliens seem to have a neural link to their mothership, as when Iron Man destroys the ship with a hijacked nuclear missile, all the invading forces drop dead instantly. They are thought to be led by a hooded Chitauri called "the Other" (played by Alexis Denisof), the Chitauri are later revealed to be in the service of Thanos.
- The Other appears again in the 2014 live-action space opera Guardians of the Galaxy as the vizier of Thanos. He appears briefly alongside Thanos, and is shortly thereafter killed by Ronan. A Chitauri soldier is also seen as a prisoner in the Collector's museum.
- The Chitauri appear in Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Maximum Overload with their vocal effects provided by Dee Bradley Baker. They appear as servants of Loki.
- The Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the Chitauri will appear in the Marvel Universe: LIVE! arena show.
- The Ultimates #8
- The Ultimates #8–13
- Hunger #1
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- Ultimate Fantastic Four #27–29 (2004)
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