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Did Secret Invasion Prove Nick Fury Sucks As A Spy?

Nick Fury: superspy or glorified casting director? The eyepatched operative has been a staple of the Marvel Cinematic Universe from the beginning, and he has a much longer history in the original Marvel comics. But it's the Samuel L. Jackson version that we're here today to discuss. After the recent episodes of Marvel's "Secret Invasion" on Disney+, we have to ask the question: Is he actually a good spy, or has Fury been carried by the Skrulls and others?

As revealed through flashbacks and Fury's conversations with Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), many of his biggest accomplishments are mostly thanks to the Skrulls. After assisting the alien race during the events of "Captain Marvel," Fury developed a working relationship with them, bringing a group to Earth permanently and assigning them top-secret missions under S.H.I.E.L.D. Due to their shapeshifting powers, the Skrulls made excellent spies, and Fury rose through the ranks on the merits of their success, according to Talos. In fairness, that accusation is made after the two friends have a falling-out. But still, the question of Fury's legitimacy remains.

Spymaster or good recruiter? Special agent or fraud? Let's take a look at Fury's MCU history and figure out if the former S.H.I.E.L.D. director is all he's cracked up to be.

Nick Fury was a great spy long before he met the Skrulls

Nick Fury is 45 when he first meets Carol Danvers (Brie Larson). At that point in the timeline, he's already been in S.H.I.E.L.D. for years, but that's not where his career in intelligence work started.

As revealed in "Captain Marvel," Fury joined the military after graduating high school, eventually rising to the prestigious rank of colonel in the United States Army. From there, he was recruited to the CIA, where he worked numerous top-secret missions during the Cold War. This part of Fury's career is referenced a couple of times in "Secret Invasion," as he alludes to his days as a spy in the Soviet Union while chatting with Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) in Russia.

All of that takes place long before Fury ever meets a Skrull. His career in espionage was impressive on its own, which is why S.H.I.E.L.D. recruited him in the first place. And yet, there may still be some merit to Talos' accusation that Fury rode the coattails of the Skrulls after meeting them.

Would he have found the same success in S.H.I.E.L.D. that he did in the CIA if not for Talos and his people? Would Fury still have become the director of the prestigious organization? It's impossible to say for sure. He certainly takes advantage of his alien friends — to the point of pretty gross manipulation — but he also accomplishes a lot on his own.

Nick Fury may be a better manager than a spy

The greatest truth in what Talos says to Fury may be that he's not as good of a spy as he is a manager. He assembles the greatest covert network on the planet by recruiting the Skrulls to his cause, and he later builds the Avengers team, which saves the world numerous times. For better or worse, we don't see much of Fury actually being a spy in the MCU, though his continued skill at age 75 in "Secret Invasion" is impressive in itself. What we do see are his leadership skills, his ability to organize, and his strategic foresight.

Maybe Fury simply found his true calling later in life. Or maybe it's his spy skills that make him so good at managing people, as he's always looking ahead for potential betrayals or crises. Whatever the exact reason, it's a good thing that Fury learned how to organize groups with the Skrulls. If he hadn't, the Avengers might never have been formed, and the Earth would have been doomed.