Home » The Road to Marvel Studios’ ‘Secret Invasion’

The Road to Marvel Studios’ ‘Secret Invasion’

by Ron Hilliard
The main poster for the Disney+ original Marvel series SECRET INVASION featuring Nick Fury's face overlapped with the green face of an evil Skrull.

Samuel L. Jackson has been playing the role of Nick Fury since his debut in the post-credit scene of 2008’s Iron Man. Later taking on a heavier role in the Avengers, Captain America, and even Spider-Man films, this racks up to over a decade’s worth of work on a single character. Now, that does seem like a lot, but it wasn’t until the Secret Invasion Disney+ original series was conceived by Marvel Studios the MCU finally was able to focus on one of its most interesting and beloved icons.

Secret Invasion on Disney+ centers around Nick Fury who has been missing in action ever since he was snapped away at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. Audiences were briefly given a clue during the end tag of Spider-Man: Far From Home as to what he’s been up to in the interim, and this show finally sheds more light on the elusive spymaster’s shadowy life in a time of pending war. Taking place in the present-day MCU, Fury must uncover the conspiracies behind a clandestine invasion of Earth wherein a renegade faction of shapeshifting Skrulls is planning to replace the world’s most influential positions of power.

Nick Fury must now look to and question his closest allies, including the friendly Skrull Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), Everett Ross (Martin Freeman), recently seen in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), and James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle). In true Marvel fashion, Secret Invasion also continues to expand the franchise by introducing Marvel fans to exciting new players like Game of Thrones and Solo star Emilia Clarke as Talos’ rebellious Skrull daughter G’iah, the great Olivia Colman as the high-ranking MI6 agent Sonya Falsworth, and One Night in Miami and soon-to-be Barbie star Kingsley Ben-Adir as the opposing Skrull faction leader Gravik. Marvel Studio’s Secret Invasion features Dermot Mulroney, Christopher McDonald, Killian Scott, Charlayne Woodard, and Samuel Adewunmi in its supporting cast as well.

Translating Comics to the Small Screen

The project first began to take shape while Kevin Feige and fellow producer Jonathan Schwartz were deep into the production of 2019’s Captain Marvel. Though admittedly, they didn’t know which direction they were going to go in initially. During the global press conference for Marvel Studios’ Secret Invasion, the show’s creatives gave insight into how this specific MCU reimagining came to be. “I think if you really go back, it did kind of start on Captain Marvel, even if it wasn’t a Secret Invasion idea yet. I think it was the idea that there was more to do with this relationship and with these two characters, with Nick and with Talos,” says producer Jonathan Schwartz.

Kingsley Ben-Adir stars as the evil Skrull leader Gravik in his human disguise form hiding out in a mysterious shack with minimal light bleeding through the windows in the Disney+ original series SECRET INVASION.
Kingsley Ben-Adir in ‘Secret Invasion’ courtesy of Disney

One would think that the natural next step following the Skrulls’ introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe would be a straight page-to-screen retelling of Secret Invasion, the famous comic book crossover event written by Brian Michael Bendis and published in 2008. However, it wasn’t until the launch of Disney+ that Marvel Studios was able to seriously consider this. From the onset, Kevin Feige and Jonathan Schwartz knew that their version of the comic storyline wouldn’t be a one-to-one adaptation. For starters, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes post-Endgame are essentially scattered to the wind. The Avengers are more of a concept currently than an actual team and the limited series on Disney+ plays with this idea in an interesting way.

When asked about adapting the much beloved and boisterous comic book event, and changing it in such a drastic fashion, Schwartz claims the “Disney+ door sort of opened up and we got the opportunity to kind of play more in genres and expand the sandbox of what we can do.” Feige added, “Jonathan came into my office a number of years ago, when we were thinking about what kinds of shows to do on Disney+. He came in with this idea of translating the great Secret Invasion storyline from the comics in a darker, grittier spy show, which we hadn’t done.” 

Nick Fury Takes Center Stage

Secret Invasion on Disney+ feels exactly as its creators intended, like a gritty spy thriller. Of course, a whole show centering around Nick Fury would lend itself to this more serious tone, but from the very beginning, the team at Marvel Studios was very intentional with their writing and conceptual ideas for Secret Invasion. In many ways, they feel it to be a spiritual successor to Captain America: The Winter Soldier. “We love to do different genres for everything, and this was an attempt to really dive back into things we touched upon in The Winter Soldier,” says Kevin Feige. Which makes sense. The Winter Soldier is one of the most highly regarded MCU films, and coincidentally, it also features Nick Fury in a large capacity, giving audiences the first glimpse into this past.

The Winter Soldier was sparse in its number of superheroes too – Thor and Iron Man didn’t show up to give Captain America, The Falcon, and Black Widow an assist – it was very much a relatively grounded piece with high stakes. In Samuel L. Jackson’s opinion, that lack of a superhero element made that film memorable and is also what ties these two entries in the MCU together. “I really loved Winter Soldier, so that tone flows into Secret Invasion in a very real kind of way. It’s a story about people doing people stuff, without, you know, all those supers coming in to save you.”

This is how Marvel Studios’ Secret Invasion is handling its story. Skrulls vs. Humankind, except unlike the comic, there aren’t any superheroes in costumes coming to save the day. In fact, the only hero that does appear out of costume is James Rhodes, and it’s yet to be seen if he’s going to be an ally to Fury or an adversary. “We’re just kind of finding out what’s happening with Rhodey as this series goes on. We see him as more of a political animal than we have in the past. What I’m looking forward to is getting under the hood of who he is and seeing how this relationship with Nick Fury evolves”, states Don Cheadle.

Samuel L. Jackson stars as Nick Fury wearing a new undercover costume while hiding in secrecy in the Disney+ original series SECRET INVASION from Marvel Studios.
Samuel L. Jackson in ‘Secret Invasion’ courtesy of Disney

The New Wild West of the MCU

With Rhodey out of the armor and serving as the President’s senior adviser, it really and truly feels like the heroes of yesterday’s MCU are gone. This leaves the brunt of the responsibility for saving the day on Nick Fury’s uniquely un-super shoulders. But this is what director Ali Selim found most interesting to explore; “Well, I think it’s a very human show. It’s the Nick Fury story. He’s a human. He does have his own version of superpowers, but they’re not like superhero superpowers. I like human stories that come from the heart and are human-scaled and reach for a universal appeal rather than the reverse of that.”

Ali Selim went on to say that in many ways, Marvel Studios’ Secret Invasion treats Nick Fury as a Western archetype, that lone ranger on the frontier trying to do right by others with whatever means available to him. “He sort of becomes a classic American Western hero. And the tone sort of shifted in the later episodes to Nick Fury as John Wayne.” It’s a side of Fury we haven’t seen before, him being up against the ropes with no superhero backup. To that effect, Samuel L. Jackson is confident that “The more you find out about [Fury], then the more you’re gonna like him. The more I like him.” 

The first episode of Marvel Studio’s Secret Invasion is now streaming on Disney+ with new episodes releasing every Wednesday!

Follow writer Ron Hilliard on Twitter: @darkmotifs

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