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Secret Invasion: Nick Fury Is The Show's True Antagonist

Contains spoilers for "Secret Invasion" Episode 3, "Betrayed"

Repercussions are one of the many themes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) spent the entire "Infinity Saga" facing the consequences of his former life. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) faced the repercussions of protecting his best friend. And now Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) seems to be going toe-to-toe with the Skrulls due to his many missteps and secrets. Neglect and hubris may have led to the biggest danger humans have faced since Thanos, making Fury the antagonist in his own series.

Fury has always been a character who lives and operates deep in the shadows of the world. No matter what the situation, he always seemed to be three steps ahead of it. After living on a developing space station for a significant period, Fury makes his long-awaited return to Earth in his latest appearance in the franchise with "Secret Invasion." But the world he returns to is one on the brink of war, and the worst part is that it may all be his own fault.

With half of the Skrulls living peacefully on Earth and the other half tired of waiting on Fury to deliver on a promise to help them find a new home, the humans are caught in the middle of an impending war, which is the result of thirty years of broken promises.

You keep your word, and I'll keep mine

Fury has a lot of talents, whether it be through espionage, clandestine operations, or pulling together a team of individuals and finding a common goal for them to strive for. We got a glimpse of that talent when he brought together fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), along with Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth), to protect Earth.

In the second episode of "Secret Invasion," we find out that The Avengers weren't the first group of people he galvanized into protecting the planet. In 1997, two years after the events of "Captain Marvel," Fury convinces the Skrulls that are on the planet to help him keep his home safe. And in return, he would work with Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) to find them another planet. When he requires them to make a pledge, he promises, "You keep your word, and I'll keep mine."

Thirty years later and Fury has been so focused on the Earth's security, even with the Avengers here to protect it, that his promise went unfulfilled. While some Skrulls have been happy enough to live on Earth peacefully, others have decided they are finished waiting for Fury to make good on his decades-old unfulfilled promise. They are instead committing to go to war to take Earth as their own, making Fury's inaction one of the most dangerous things any of the MCU characters have done. 

An enemy of his own making

Fury may be the only kind of old-school spy that was up to the task of bringing together Earth's Mightiest Heroes, but he seems to have the same flaw as other MCU heroes. The Stark family legacy has inadvertently created numerous MCU villains, including Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), and Ultron (James Spader). Similarly, Thor's selfish behavior led to Loki's (Tom Hiddleston) betrayal of his adoptive family, Bruce Banner's role in the creation of a serum resulted in the Abomination (Tim Roth), and Steve Rogers' inability to be honest with Stark gave rise to the issues faced in "Captain America: Civil War."

Fury, too, is the architect of his own enemy. "Secret Invasion" sees Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir) take over as the general of the Skrull army. He was one of the original Skrulls to take Fury's pledge as a young man who had just lost his family to the Kree. After waiting for thirty years and working with Fury to protect Earth, he takes Fury's abandonment the hardest and becomes radicalized by the broken promises. He convinces the Skrull council to go to war and stop at nothing less than the extinction of the human race.

Gravik's radicalization is the result of the world's best super spy losing faith and abandoning him and the promise he made. While Fury wasn't the same after the Blip (as stated by Cobie Smulders' Maria Hill in the first episode), his process of dealing with his mental struggles came at the price of thousands of people dying at the hands of his creation.

Nick Fury shows no remorse

What makes Nick Fury the real antagonist of "Secret Invasion" is not that he created the villain by abandoning his promise. It is that whenever he is confronted with the fact that he created the mess, he shows no remorse. When Maria Hill or Talos confront him with his abandonment of Earth, he never attempts to make amends. He instead takes on the entire war on his own and continues to bark orders with no authority.

When Stark discovers how his legacy hurts people, his entire character arc is written to reverse that legacy. When Rogers realizes how much he hurt Tony, he acknowledges his mistake and apologizes. Banner protects the world from his Hulk outbursts, and Thor never stops trying to bond with Loki. While the rest of the heroes make amends, Fury makes no attempt to do the same. The closest we get to any sort of remorse or humility is when Talos forces him to ask him for help. He then reminds him that he would have been nothing without him and his friends who signed on to help, something Fury calls abuse rather defensively.

Even worse, during the third episode, audiences discover that he didn't only abandon Maria Hill and his entire Skrull network, but also his wife. After the Blip took him away from her for half a decade, his way of dealing with it was to abandon her again. What we get with Fury in his newest appearance is a truth that has been under our noses since the beginning of the MCU: Nick Fury is less a hero and more of an antagonist in the shadows.