|First appearance||The Ultimates vol. 1, #8 (2002) (November 2002)|
|Notable members||Herr Kleiser|
The Chitauri are a fictional race of extraterrestrial shapeshifters appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics, specifically in Ultimate Marvel. 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, God of Mischief 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. 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 and unlike their Earth-1610 counterpart, they are a distinct species from the Skrulls. Most of them are simple-minded dogged creatures, similar to insects, to the point of following a queen. The Chitauri first appeared as enemies of the new Nova. Nova 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 Nova's father Jesse as an hostage on a planet similar to Saturn.
The Chitauri have Jesse Alexander captive on their planet Chitauri Prime as one of the Chitauri's slaves that fight in their gladiatorial arena.
The Chitauri are revealed to have made a Chitauri clone of Jesse Alexander which also has Jesse's memories.
At the time when Captain America's memories were rewritten by Red Skull's clone using the powers of Kobik to be a Hydra agent, Red Skull's clone had Captain America steal some Chitauri eggs in order to lure the Chitauri to Earth so that they can raze it. The Alpha Flight Space Program had to fight the Chitauri swarms where they took out four different swarms in a month. A larger Chitauri swarm was defeated by Quasar where it was predicted that a much larger Chitauri swarm will appear that will be larger than the Annihilation Wave.
During the Secret Empire storyline, the Chitauri arrived at Earth where the Alpha Flight Space Program, the Ultimates, Quasar, and Hyperion of Earth-13034. As Hydra began its takeover, Captain America activated the Planetary Defense Shield trapping the Chitauri and those fighting them outside of Earth. As those trapped outside of Earth continue fighting the Chitauri, they are unable to convince the representatives on the Galactic Council into helping them against the Chitauri. As Spectrum tells Captain Marvel that they are able to make inter-dimensional supply runs and have found the location of the Chitauri Queen Eggs, the waves of Chitauri and their Leviathans are increasing in size and frequency leaving the technicians without enough time to fix the severe structural damage to the station. Monica suggests that America Chavez relocate the heroes and people stuck outside the Planetary Defense Shield to an alternate reality given the Intergalactic Council in their reality are unsympathetic to Earth's plight. Captain Marvel rejects this idea stating the heroes were charged with a mission to protect the Earth against the Chitauri invasion and they are the only thing standing in the way if the Planetary Defense Shield were to go down for some reason. Captain Marvel then turns her attention to a comatose Avril Kincaid who we find out did survive being swallowed by the Leviathan and was pulled out of the wreckage by Nova. Captain Marvel admits her fault in the situation and the raising of the Planetary Defense Shield and pleads for Avril to wake up because the team desperately needs the strength of her powers. After Quasar awakens from her coma thanks to Sam Wilson using the Cosmic Cube fragment he had in order to find a way to take down the Planetary Defense Shield, she takes down the Planetary Defense Shield allowing Captain Marvel to fly to the location of the Chitauri eggs which she destroys.
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 appear in the Guardians of the Galaxy episode "The Backstabbers." Some Chitauri are shown to make up Nebula's spaceship crew.
- The Chitauri have been referenced in the TV shows taking place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- 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 Grant Ward recovers a Chitauri "neural link" from an illegal arms dealer named T. Vanchat. 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 Wrigley, 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. In the episode "Broken Promises," it is revealed that Senator Ellen Nadeer's parents were killed during the Chitauri invasion.
- The Chitauri are mentioned in the Jessica Jones episode "AKA It's Called Whiskey."
- In Luke Cage, salvaged Chitauri metal is used by Hammer Industries to create the Judas bullets, shrapnel-like ammunition capable of piercing Luke Cage's bulletproof skin and wounding or even killing him. Willis Stryker uses them against Luke on several occasions and uses an alliance with Mariah Dillard to manipulate the NYPD into arming the Emergency Service Unit with mass-produced Judas bullets.
- 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. Primary antagonist Herr Kleiser alone has the ability to shapeshift; he is referred to as their Super Soldier and compared to Captain America.
- The Chitauri appear in the live-action Marvel Cinematic Universe. They are in league with Thanos through his vizier, a hooded being called "the Other" (played by Alexis Denisof). Lacking their ability to shape-shift, they are presented as a race of grey-skinned, six-fingered reptilian humanoids that have a bio-mechanical physiology and superhuman attributes. Their technology ranges from hovercraft-like skimmers and Necrocraft, to living airborne troop carriers called Leviathans and all having a neural link with a mothership.
- The Chitauri first appear in the 2012 film The Avengers, where the Other, acting on behalf of Thanos, lends the Chitauri to Loki for the invasion of Earth. While they eventually overwhelm the Avengers, Iron Man destroys the mothership with a hijacked nuclear missile with the invading forces dropping dead instantly.
- The Chitauri appear in the 2014 film Guardians of the Galaxy. The Other briefly appears where he contacts Ronan the Accuser and Nebula about Gamora's betrayal, and calls them to the Sanctuary on behalf of Thanos. Once the two of them appear, Ronan argues his case to Thanos while The Other scolds him for his failure, and is then promptly killed by Ronan. A Chitauri soldier is also seen as a prisoner in the Collector's museum.
- Chitauri technology appears in Avengers: Age of Ultron. It is being studied and used by a Hydra faction led by Baron Strucker – many of his troops wear suits and use weapons made of Chitauri armor, and Strucker's hidden lab houses the remains of a Leviathan. Furthermore, as first hinted in the psychological trauma he showed in Iron Man 3 and augmented by Scarlet Witch's powers giving him a nightmarish vision, Tony Stark has been fearful that the Chitauri may eventually return to Earth, which leads to his rash actions in creating Ultron.
- Chitauri technology appears in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Alongside the technology of the Dark Elves and Stark Industries, the Chitauri technology is used by Adrian Toomes and his cohorts, who steal it from Damage Control and modify it into weapons to sell on the black market, and to forge technology such as Vulture's flight suit and Shocker's gauntlets.
- The Chitauri appear in Avengers: Infinity War as Thanos' enforcers in his mission to obtain the Infinity Stones. It is also revealed in a flashback that the Chitauri took part in the invasion of Gamora's home planet when she was a child, resulting in her being taken in by Thanos.
- 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 Chitauri appear in Lego Marvel's Avengers.
- The Chitauri appear in Marvel Avengers Academy.
- 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
- Godfrey, Alex (August 8, 2013). "Kick-Ass 2: Mark Millar's superhero powers". The Guardian. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
- Tappin Coelho, Janet (December 21, 2006). "So was David Icke right?". Retrieved August 8, 2013.
- Ultimate Fantastic Four #27–29 (2004)
- Captain America: Steve Rogers #8
- "The Chitauri Invade Loeb and McGuinness's NOVA #4". Newsarama.com. 10 April 2013.
- "'Avengers' Villains The Chitauri To Make Marvel Debut In 'Nova' #4". MTV. 10 April 2013.
- Nova vol. 5 #5
- Nova Vol. 5 #25
- Nova Vol. 6 #5
- Captain America: Steve Rogers #8-10
- Civil War II: The Oath #1
- Secret Empire #0
- Secret Empire #3
- Secret Empire #7
- Secret Empire #8
- Ultimate Avengers
- "The Underdog: Kevin Feige on 'The Avengers'". 2 May 2012.
- "Loki's alien army finally identified". 14 April 2012.
- Wheatley, Cliff (19 November 2013). "Marvel Universe LIVE! Reveals Villain Characters". IGN.
| Marvel Cinematic Universe film villain (with Loki)