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Nick Fury Owes Skrulls His Whole Career, And Secret Invasion Calls Him Out On It

Contains spoilers for "Secret Invasion" Season 1, Episode 3 — "Betrayed"

Nick Fury's (Samuel L. Jackson) career trajectory has been a strange one. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline, the first time we see him is in 1995 when he's just a small-time SHIELD bureaucrat who's clearly far removed from the all-knowing, effortlessly cool director fans first see in the post-credits scene of "Iron Man." It's pretty clear that Fury's held his position for some time when he meets Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), but the exact timeline and manner of his ascension to the top of the SHIELD organization have always been somewhat unclear ... that is, until "Secret Invasion" Episode 3 explains how Fury's massive career leap from bureaucrat to bureau leader happened.

As Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) reveals in his big rant during their car ride, the secret behind Fury's success is simple: Skrulls. The show has already revealed that Fury used to train and supervise Skrull spies. Now, Talos explicitly states that the power dynamic is actually rather different, and his 20-Skrull spy network's decision to accept Fury as their human liaison is the sole reason behind Fury's stellar career. Talos' team is also responsible for pretty much every single piece of game-changing intel Fury's ever had. This puts Fury's accomplishments in a completely new light, presenting him as less of an omnipotent superspy and more like a human who simply made the most of a golden opportunity he stumbled upon.

Fury's reliance on his Skrull network means he's not as independent as you'd think

For much of his MCU screen time, Fury has been the ultimate superspy: always prepared, always connected, and always in possession of far more information than he's willing to give others. Now that we know for a fact that this image hinges on his Skrull friends, the picture is suddenly pretty different. In fact, Talos has such sway over Fury that he can force the guy to rather humiliatingly ask for his help — just to make a point. Imagine anyone else in the MCU even thinking of pulling a stunt like that.

There's little reason to suspect that Talos isn't telling the truth about their power dynamic. While Fury is pretty salty about his ally calling him out, he doesn't deny anything the Skrull general says. What's more, the only reason Talos bothers to mention this at all is Fury's implication that it's he who has been cleaning the Skrulls' messes for decades, not the other way around. In all fairness, it's always been clear that Fury is a man with plenty of connections. However, the revelation that his connections have done so much of the heavy lifting while he's reaped the rewards is surprising.

Talos is clearly Fury's best and most trusted ally, whose unwavering loyalty has been instrumental in the SHIELD man's success. The Skrull's troops have effectively been enacting a mini secret invasion on Fury's behalf all these years, so he's been able to have a person on the inside pretty much anywhere he's needed to. What's more, Fury's wife, Priscilla (Charlayne Woodard), is also a Skrull, so it's pretty clear that the former director's entire personal and professional life has revolved around the aliens for decades. Even when Fury has already left Earth behind and Skrulls to their own devices, Talos is still seen doing his dirty work in "Spider-Man: Far from Home" while Fury himself relaxes in space.

There wouldn't be Director Fury without Skrulls, but that doesn't mean Fury is worthless on his own

As Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir) has stated before and Priscilla quite pointedly notes in "Secret Invasion" Episode 3, Fury's willingness to leave the Skrulls to their own devices after they helped him all these years doesn't say much of his character.

However, there's clearly more to the situation than meets the eye. The fact that Talos continues to stay on Team Fury — and even admits that he's a capable and intelligent person in the middle of verbally tearing him apart — means that Fury must bring far more to the table than the Skrull's disgruntled speech makes it seem. Before "Secret Invasion" is over, there's every chance that fans will know a whole lot more about the full, complex dynamic between Fury and the Skrulls ... but the show has already made it extremely clear that the shape-shifting aliens have played a massive role in the SHIELD man's career.