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Secret Invasion: The Real-Life Cartel Story That Inspired Kingsley-Ben Adir's Gravik

Gravik (Kingsley-Ben Adir) in "Secret Invasion" has already proven himself a sinister villain. In the first two episodes alone, he pulls off a terrorist attack in Moscow, killing numerous people, including Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), in the process. And in Episode 2, he proves he's not above killing a fellow Skrull, as he has Brogan (Ben Peel) murdered for assuming he leaked secrets to outside forces. Even without all of that, the fact he managed to convince many Skrulls to join him in his crusade to eliminate humanity from Earth so that the alien race can make the planet their new home shows how effective he is as a leader.

And Adir looked toward another nefarious character to inform his performance as Gravik. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the actor revealed he was actually watching a show called "ZeroZeroZero" when the offer to join Marvel came in, and he realized how perfect the villain of that series would be for him. He stated, "[Harold Torres'] performance as Manuel, who was the leader of a group in Mexico, was just stunning. It was understated, and something really dark and sinister was going on underneath. His behavior and what he was doing was so traumatic. The level of violence that he was able to witness and inflict, I was like, 'Gravik becomes interesting if he's kind of like that.'" The fact "ZeroZeroZero" is a work of non-fiction makes the comparison all the more intriguing.

Secret Invasion's Gravik is similarly as ruthless as Manuel Quinteras

"ZeroZeroZero," which is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video, is based on a book by the same name. Both mediums study the business surrounding the shipment of cocaine around the globe, centering on the Lynwood family of America and how they serve as a broker between Italian and Mexican organized crime. Specifically, Manuel Quinteras (Harold Torres) functioned as a Mexican Army soldier who worked for the Leyra brothers. He's ruthless throughout the series, having his men killed for his own gain. Through all this, he preaches brotherhood while selling out those close to him when convenient. 

It's easy to see how Kingsley-Ben Adir would draw a connection between Manuel and Gravik. Both understand it's a dog-eat-dog world out there and to attain their goals, sacrifices are necessary. Adir went on to tell THR, "He holds a certain tension and a certain mystery in his behavior. He uses and manipulates the people around him. So it was really that show [that I pulled from]." These traits in Manuel can be seen early on in "ZeroZeroZero" when he kills one of his own and later tells his team that the deceased "took a bullet for them."

Neither character is over-the-top with their machinations. They play things more calmly and cooly but know when to get ruthless when the moment calls for this. For this reason, it's no wonder Decider referred to Manuel Quinteras as "a TV villain for the ages." And depending on how the rest of "Secret Invasion" shakes out, Gravik could be an all-time great Marvel Cinematic Universe antagonist.