How the First Episode of Marvel’s ‘Secret Invasion’ Sets the Stakes for Nick Fury With a Shocking Twist


__Spoilers for the first episode of __Secret Invasion below**

The early chatter around the premiere of Secret Invasion—the new Marvel series which debuted on Disney+ this morning—is centered around the tasteless, ill-advised decision to use AI to generate the show’s opening credits. However, that discourse is obscuring what is an otherwise pretty good episode and a strong start to Marvel’s latest. With its premiere episode, Secret Invasion is declaring itself as the first Marvel project with some serious stakes attached to it in quite a while, by way of a very major death to close the hour out.

Secret Invasion focuses on the Skrulls, the shape-shifting alien race last seen in 2019’s Captain Marvel. At the conclusion of that film, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) assured the Skrull leader Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) that he’d work to find a new homeworld for them. Now, decades later (and exacerbated by the events of the Blip), a radical sect of Skrulls are done waiting—and are planning on claiming Earth for themselves. This faction is led by Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir) and includes Talos’ daughter G’iah (Emilia Clarke), making it a personal affairf. And, by the premiere’s end, it’s become a personal one for Fury, too.

After getting a tip from a defected G’iah, Fury, Talos, and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) work to intercept a group of Gravik’s forces in a crowded public square, only to quickly realize G’iah duped them: Gravik appears and sets off a series of bombs in the square. In the ensuing chaos, Gravik shapeshifts into Fury and shoots Maria Hill, who then bleeds out in the arms of the real Nick Fury. In her dying breaths, she accuses Fury himself of the deed.

In a series that features shape-shifting aliens, the first thought is that this version of Maria is a Skrull. However, the episode goes to great lengths to show that Skrulls revert to their alien form when they die and that Talos’ wife, whom we last saw posing as Hill during Far From Home, is now dead. Considering the episode’s final shot lingers on Hill’s dead body for quite a while, this is likely the end.

Maria Hill is one of the MCU’s longest-running supporting characters, first appearing in the first Avengers film in 2012 and recurring often in films and TV shows since, always as Fury’s trusted right hand, one of the few government-adjacent figures our heroes could always trust. In the trailer for Invasion, Fury mentions the fight against Gravik is “personal,” and now we know why. Fury was already well-aware of the Skrull threat, but this adds a layer of intimacy and revenge that should make things more interesting as the series progresses. (And yes, it does carry the faint whiff of “fridging”—the tired storytelling trope where a character, typically a woman, dies just to motivate another character’s arc forward—but this is a superhero series at the end of the day.) . Furthermore, it explains why Fury won’t call the Avengers (who are scattered to the wind anyhow) to help; this is something he’s motivated to handle alone.

Most importantly, though, in killing a character who’s been a part of the MCU for ten years, it just finally gives the franchise some real consequences—something that recent Phase IV and V stories have largely lacked, a definite factor of the post-Endgame slump. We’ll have five more episodes to determine if Hill’s death does indeed provide the storytelling spark Marvel is sorely in need of, but for now, Secret Invasion is off to an intriguing start.

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How the First Episode of Marvel’s ‘Secret Invasion’ Sets the Stakes for Nick Fury With a Shocking Twist

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