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The Untold Truth Of Marvel's Secret Invasion

At San Diego Comic-Con and the D23 Expo, Marvel Studios gave fans insight into the next two years of MCU projects coming to theaters and Disney+. Among them are big-budget films starring Marvel's greatest heroes, such as "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" and "The Marvels," while upcoming Disney+ shows focus on smaller niche heroes in the cinematic universe, like Daredevil and Echo. One new Disney+ series, however, will be an adaptation of a Marvel Comics arc with big stakes for our favorite Marvel characters.

"Secret Invasion" stars Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, and Ben Mendelsohn, with its first trailer premiering online after the D23 Expo. It revolves around an invasion of Earth by the shape-shifting Skrull aliens while Jackson's iconic Nick Fury works to stop it. Like the original comic arc, the series promises to have viewers questioning whether the characters they're watching are Skrulls or not. It also may forever change the trajectory of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, should the series' events accurately mimic the comic books. 

However, casual Marvel fans may not be aware of the origins of "Secret Invasion" or what it could mean for certain characters going forward in the MCU. Additionally, there are plenty of new characters that will be introduced in the series that fans may be curious to know about. Like the Skrulls themselves, there's a lot more to "Secret Invasion" than meets the eye. 

The origin of the Skrulls

"Secret Invasion" won't be the first introduction of the Skrulls in the MCU, as that came in 2019's "Captain Marvel." However, the Skrulls' first appearance in the comics dates back to 1962, in issue #2 of the original "Fantastic Four" comic run. In this debut issue, the Skrulls are caught shape-shifting into Marvel's first family, until they're deceived by Reed Richards into believing they're cows. Sixteen issues later, the Skrulls discovered this ruse and send one of their most powerful warriors to defeat the Fantastic Four once and for all. 

The Skrulls later became an important player in the early comic book adventures of Captain Marvel, back when the character was a male Kree warrior (via Den of Geek). The Kree, a humanoid alien empire, waged war against the Skrulls for many years, which eventually becomes part of the main conflict in "Captain Marvel," turning the Skrulls from vicious, untrustworthy invaders into refugees seeking asylum from the brutal Kree army. 

However, these shape-shifting alien warriors were originally inspired by a very specific time in American history. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the Skrulls and their ability to disguise themselves as unsuspecting heroes were a commentary on Cold War paranoia in America. This fear of infiltration into the country would become the basis for one of the Skrulls' most important storylines — the very same one that will infiltrate the TV screens of MCU fans across the world. 

Secret Invasion was a Marvel Comics storyline

The Disney+ series "Secret Invasion" gets its title from the infamous Marvel Comics storyline of the same name, which began in 2008 and ran for eight issues. However, the actual events of "Secret Invasion" crossover with nearly 100 different Marvel comics, from "The Mighty Avengers" to "Thunderbolts" and even included issues of "Deadpool." 

Following the events of the Kree-Skrull War, the Illuminati (who appeared in an alternate universe in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness") is called together by Tony Stark to prevent a Skrull invasion of Earth before it even begins. However, the Illuminati confrontation becomes an opportunity for the Skrulls to kidnap and experiment on some of Earth's mightiest heroes, including Spider-Woman, Black Bolt, and more. Nick Fury ends up discovering their plan, though he would quickly learn who and who not to trust. 

Eventually, a whole roster of Avengers is secretly replaced with Skrulls, including characters who were missing at the time like Scarlet Witch, since "Secret Invasion" takes place shortly after the "House of M" storyline. Eventually, Fury assembles a team of non-Skrulls, including Thor, Captain America, and the Thunderbolts, to oppose the Skrulls and their leader, Queen Veranke, who has disguised herself as Spider-Woman. 

The Disney+ series is a follow-up to Captain Marvel

Of course, the first steps towards adapting "Secret Invasion" began in 2019 with the release of "Captain Marvel." This film, led by Brie Larson, focuses on a Kree warrior who discovers that she was once a human pilot named Carol Danvers and realizes that those she thought were her allies actually kidnapped her and forced her to fight in a war against the asylum-seeking Skrulls. By the end of the movie, Carol has taken the Captain Marvel moniker and begins helping Skrulls around the universe relocate to other planets. 

The film also features an important role for Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury. Since the film takes place in 1995, Fury is simply a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who allies himself with Carol, eventually helping her discover her true identity. Fury also becomes a close ally to the Skrulls throughout the film, setting him up for a major role in the inevitable "Secret Invasion" adaptation.

A post-credits scene at the end of "Spider-Man: Far From Home" further shows what the Skrulls have been up to since 1995. Talos, played by Ben Mendelsohn, and another Skrull impersonated Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill throughout the film, while the real Fury was relaxing in space on a Skrull spaceship. A Skrull also appeared at the end of "WandaVision" to recruit Monica Rambeau for a mission in space, which will likely lead into 2023's "The Marvels." 

Nick Fury makes his lead role debut

"Secret Invasion" marks a big step for Samuel L. Jackson's iconic Nick Fury. The series will be Fury's first leading role in an MCU project, after playing mostly supporting roles in films like "The Avengers," "Captain Marvel," and "Spider-Man: Far From Home." This is especially surprising given Jackson's longevity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After all, the actor made his debut in the very first post-credits scene at the end of 2008's "Iron Man," when he attempts to recruit Tony Stark for his then-fledgling Avengers Initiative. 

However, in "Secret Invasion," fans will likely get to spend a lot more time with Nick Fury than they're accustomed to. Samuel L. Jackson has even teased that fans will learn things about Nick Fury throughout the series that even he didn't know about the character (via Entertainment Weekly). Perhaps more will be revealed about Fury's backstory, which has been previously explored in the comics but never in the MCU, aside from the prequel nature of "Captain Marvel." 

Fury spent a long time working for the CIA prior to joining S.H.I.E.L.D, which could be an important factor in the political conflicts of "Secret Invasion." In the comics, Fury was also once part of a secret society known as the Great Wheel of Zodiac, along with Wolfgang von Strucker and Dum Dum Dugan. However, it's most likely that audiences will learn about Fury's off-world adventures and just how frequently he recruited Talos to masquerade as him on Earth. 

Maria Hill gets a spotlight

Another returning face in "Secret Invasion" is Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill. The "How I Met Your Mother" actress made her MCU debut in 2012's "The Avengers" as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who helps Fury activate the Avengers Initiative, summoning the likes of Bruce Banner, Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, Thor, and Clint Barton to recover the Tesseract from the hands of Loki, Thor's brother. Maria continued to play an integral role in films like "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "Avengers: Age of Ultron," as well as three episodes of the TV series "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." 

Like Fury, "Secret Invasion" will be the first time that MCU audiences get to spend an extended amount of time with Agent Hill. It's long overdue, as little is known about Maria Hill's backstory or character in the MCU other than that she's a loyal, pragmatic ally of Fury. Hill hasn't even had a lot of opportunities to show off her combat skills, which in the comics make her more of a Black Widow-esque figure. 

Smulders has promised as much from the series. During an appearance at Comic-Con in 2022, she teased that "Secret Invasion" would be a darker thriller than Marvel fans are used to. Additionally, according to her, the series will take more time to explore some of its principal characters, which likely includes Maria Hill — though the question of who is and isn't a Skrull will remain up in the air. 

Olivia Colman plays an old friend of Fury's

There will be plenty of new characters to be introduced in "Secret Invasion" as either allies or enemies of Nick Fury, Maria Hill, and the Skrull leader Talos. One of these new faces is acting legend Olivia Colman, a previous Oscar winner for her performance in "The Favourite." Colman is also known for her comedy background in British shows "Peep Show" and "Fleabag," meaning she'll likely fit perfectly within the serious yet witty tone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In the first trailer for "Secret Invasion" revealed at D23, Colman was revealed to be playing Sonya Falsworth, an old ally of Nick Fury. While little is known about this entirely original character, she does have a connection to a previous MCU character: James Falsworth, a war buddy of Steve Rogers from "Captain America: The First Avenger." In that film, Falsworth is a British army officer who is captured by Germans and later rescued by Captain America, later fighting with the Super Soldier against the forces of HYDRA. 

Given her relation to an old Captain America associate, it can be expected that Sonya will be a true ally of Fury. However, it's possible that she's also a Skrull, so her allegiance may never be trusted by the former S.H.I.E.L.D. director. Still, Olivia Colman will likely become a new fan favorite with her role in "Secret Invasion." 

Kingsley Ben-Adir's brand-new character

The first trailer for "Secret Invasion" also gave audiences a glimpse at another brand-new character: Kingsley Ben-Adir's Gravik. Ben-Adir has gained notoriety for his work in shows like "Peaky Blinders," as well as biopic performances of Malcolm X in the film "One Night in Miami..." and Barack Obama in the Showtime miniseries "The Comey Rule." However, "Secret Invasion" will find the British actor in a completely new territory. 

Little is known about Gravik, given that the character is completely original in "Secret Invasion" and has no comic book counterpart. From the looks of the trailer, he's the leader of a group of rebel Skrulls who will be pitted against Fury and Talos in the Disney+ series. Essentially, Gravik will be the captain of the Skrull invasion that the show centers on. This leadership position could possibly mean Gravik will be a composite of several Skrull leaders from the comics. 

One character that Gravik could be based on is Kl'rt, a Skrull from the comics who eventually becomes Super Skrull, a supervillain nemesis to the Fantastic Four who acquires all four of the first family's powers. The character also plays a significant role in the Secret Invasion comic arc, coming at odds with Nova and She-Hulk. Perhaps Gravik will take up the Super Skrull mantle in the MCU and face off against the Fantastic Four at some point. 

Emilia Clarke in a mystery role

Another new character in "Secret Invasion" will be played by none other than Daenerys Targaryen herself — Emilia Clarke. The "Game of Thrones" veteran will be making her MCU debut in the Disney+ series, though little is known about her role. The trailer shows her wielding a gun, though whether it's at a Skrull or a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent remains to be seen. One can hope that Clarke's role will be large enough to recur in future MCU projects, perhaps even reuniting with Kit Harington's Dane Whitman in a future film or series. 

Fan speculation has run rampant guessing who Clarke's mystery character may be. Some have wondered if she'll be playing Abigail Brand, an agent of S.W.O.R.D. from the comics. Given the series' promise to make audiences doubt the allegiance of certain characters, it can be assumed that Clarke could be playing a good guy who eventually turns out to be a Skrull. If that's the case, there are several Skrulls from the comics she could be in disguise. She could also possibly be playing G'iah, a Skrull who allies herself with the humans. 

In a more high-stakes twist, Clarke's character could also secretly be Veranke, a Skrull Queen who spends most of the Secret Invasion Arc disguised as Jessica Drew, aka Spider-Woman. While it would be cool to see Clarke slinging webs, it's likely that Veranke could just be masquerading as a typical S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who tries to get on Fury and Maria Hill's good sides. 

Some faces from the MCU's past return

Alongside the new characters, some familiar faces are already confirmed to be making appearances in "Secret Invasion." Don Cheadle will be reprising his role as James Rhodes, aka War Machine. Cheadle is another MCU veteran, first appearing in Phase 1's "Iron Man 2" and making appearances in films like "Avengers: Age of Ultron," "Captain America: Civil War," and "Avengers: Endgame." He last appeared in a cameo scene with Anthony Mackie in "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier." 

Another returning face in "Secret Invasion" will be Martin Freeman as Everett Ross, a CIA agent who first appeared in "Captain America: Civil War." More memorably, Freeman reprised that role in 2018's smash hit "Black Panther," where he discovered the truth about Wakanda not really being a third-world country. Everett Ross is also slated to precede his "Secret Invasion" appearance with a role in 2022's "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever." 

It's unknown at the moment if any other MCU veterans will be making cameos in "Secret Invasion," but there are certainly many options. ScreenRant speculates that Arian Moayed could return as Cleary, an agent from the Department of Damage Control in "Spider-Man: No Way Home" and "Ms. Marvel." Perhaps audiences will get another cameo from Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Valentina Allegra de Fontaine prior to her starring role in "Thunderbolts." Randall Park's FBI agent Jimmy Woo could also return following his expected appearance in "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania." 

The beginning of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s counterpart

An important part of the Secret Invasion comic book storyline is the dissolution of S.H.I.E.L.D. after the Skrulls have infiltrated the government. In the comics, Tony Stark is held accountable for the faulty defense system of the United States and hands the reins over to none other than Norman Osborn, who at the time led the Thunderbolts. The man also known as the Green Goblin restructures S.H.I.E.L.D. into a new organization – H.A.M.M.E.R.

Soon after H.A.M.M.E.R. takes over, Stark is arrested by the U.S. government along with Maria Hill. They also recruit characters such as Yelena Belova and Ghost into their army of superheroes. Given that both of those characters are confirmed to appear in "Thunderbolts," it's possible that the cross-over film set to end Phase 5 will explore the creation of H.A.M.M.E.R. Perhaps this will make way for the return of Willem Dafoe as an Earth-616 version of Norman Osborn, who played a big role in "Spider-Man: No Way Home." 

A likelier candidate for leading H.A.M.M.E.R. is Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The former "Seinfeld" star made her debut as Fury's former lover and adversary in "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" and "Black Widow." By the time she appears in "Thunderbolts," she'll have her own superhero team that includes Yelena, Bucky Barnes, and Ghost, among others. With the backing of H.A.M.M.E.R., she could prove to be a dangerous force.

Secret Invasion will lead into Armor Wars

Fans who attended the D23 Expo in 2022 were also the first to learn that "Secret Invasion" would directly lead into the events of "Armor Wars," another Disney+ series that will star Don Cheadle as James Rhodes (via Marvel). Like Fury in "Secret Invasion," this will be a long overdue starring role for War Machine, who has been a supporting player for far too long in the MCU. Little is known about "Armor Wars" other than it will also feature the return of Walton Goggins as Sonny Burch, a black market arms dealer who appeared in "Ant-Man and the Wasp." 

"Armor Wars" does, however, get its name from a Marvel Comics storyline of its own. That arc, which originated in 1987 but was revived in 2009 and 2015, centers on Tony Stark trying to control his technology from landing in the wrong hands. Given that Robert Downey Jr. has officially hung up his cape (or armor, rather), the series may instead focus on James Rhodes dealing with the blowback. It could also see a return for former "Iron Man" cast members, such as Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan or Sam Rockwell as the Tony Stark knock-off Justin Hammer. 

If Marvel Studios plays loosely with the comics, "Armor Wars" could see the return of Paul Bettany as White Vision, who disappeared at the end of "WandaVision." Perhaps he'll try to seek answers from Tony Stark, and upon learning of his death, encounter Rhodey. 

The future of the Skrulls in the MCU

"Secret Invasion," ultimately, will be a huge turning point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as it adapts an incredibly important arc from the comics. It's been an inevitable story for Marvel Studios to cover since the Skrulls were introduced in "Captain Marvel," and it's likely that they'll continue to be important for many future storylines.

Given the significance of Super-Skrull as an early Fantastic Four villain, perhaps the character will play an antagonist role in the upcoming "Fantastic Four" Though many fans are hoping to see Doctor Doom introduced before "Avengers: Secret Wars," Super-Skrull would definitely make this new reboot much different from the 2005 and 2015 versions. 

In the comics, the Skrulls also have a strong connection to the Eternals. In Marvel Comics lore, the Skrulls are actually Deviants created by Celestials on the planet Skrullos, who managed to wipe out the planet's Eternals and Prime Skrulls. This could make them important players in a sequel to 2021's "Eternals," as that film ended with Thena, Makkari, and Druig venturing out to free more Eternals. Perhaps their journeys with Eros and Pip the Troll to rescue Sersi, Kingo, and Phastos from the clutches of Arishem the Celestial will have them crossing paths with Deviant Skrulls on their native planet.