How ‘Secret Invasion’ expands MCU in a new way, according to its cast/crew

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Cobie Smulders (left) as Maria Hill and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury in ‘Secret Invasion.’
Des Willie / 2023 MARVEL.

The world of Marvel is expanding with the recent release of the Disney+ series ‘Secret Invasion,’ and with some new challenges. But for this six-part miniseries, viewers will be seeing an old face leading the story, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).

“This is my second appearance post-snap, and he’s been kinda gone for a while,” says Jackson when asked where we find his character today at a global press conference. “He’s a little tired, a little vulnerable, but coming back to Earth because he’s been summoned. And we’ll see what happens. Got a bad knee now. Not so happy.”

Ben Mendelson’s Talos is another Marvel figure that we see return for this next phase of the mega-franchise, plus Cobie Smulder’s Maria Hill, one of Nick Fury’s close friends (that he actually trusts). There’s also the return of Don Cheadle’s James “Rhodey” Rhodes, who was first introduced in the MCU as Tony Stark’s close confidant and military contact in ‘Iron Man’.

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Ben Mendelsohn as Talos/Keller in Marvel Studios’ ‘Secret Invasion’ on Disney+.Marvel Studios / 2022 MARVEL

“I think we’re just kind of finding out what’s happening with Rhodey as this series goes on. He’s in a different role. We see him as more a political animal than we have in the past,” says Cheadle. 

The actor continued: “He’s been more of a military man, but now he’s sort of, in some ways, a right hand of the president and this special envoy, in that regard. But I think what I’m looking forward to is just seeing more, and getting under the hood of who he is and seeing how this relationship, not only with Nick Fury, but the other cast members evolves.”

‘Secret Invasion,’ according to Marvel director Kevin Feige, takes place right in the present day of the MCU—but we begin to learn more about characters that have been around from almost the beginning. And speaking of two of them, it was working closely with Don Cheadle that got Samuel L. Jackson excited to take on the role of Nick Fury again. 

“I never had an in-depth scene with Don,” he explains. “We’ve been waiting to do this for years and years and years, you know? So it was wonderful to do and to have that little abrasive thing happen there. It’s kinda great and kinda nice to know that we have that kind of relationship, or I assumed it was that. And that’s some new information.”

During ‘Secret Invasion’, we also see some new faces, including the other half of Mendelson’s Talos’ twisted family dynamic, G’iah, played by Emilia Clarke. The MCU also has added another Academy Award winner to its roster with Olivia Coleman, who joined the series to play Sonya Falsworth—who’s dynamic is quite tense with Nick Fury.

“Sonya works for MI6. And she likes wearing red. And she’s quite funny. And she’s potentially a little bit not that nice sometimes,” says Coleman.

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Olivia Colman as Special Agent Sonya Falsworth in ‘Secret Invasion.’Gareth Gatrell / 2023 MARVEL.

‘Secret Invasion’ ultimately follows Nick Fury after he learns that there is a secret invasion planned to take over Earth by a faction of shapeshifting Skrulls. Fury, along with his allies, in a very MCU-like fashion are doing everything they can to thwart the plan. 

It’s a recipe Marvel revisits, and the hero vs. villain aspect is one that the cinematic universe is built on. But as Feige says, each film and show has its place.

“There are story points that people will see [over] the course of the series, obviously. But Jonathan (Schwartz) came into my office a number of years ago, when we were thinking about what kinds of shows to do on Disney+. And he came in with this idea of translating the great secret invasion storyline from the comics in a darker, grittier spy show, which we hadn’t done,” Feige explains. 

He continued: “We love to do different genres for everything and this was an attempt to really dive back into things we touched upon in ‘The Winter Soldier’ and ‘Captain America 2’, but hadn’t in a while. And really delving into the tone of a spy show, and seeing a very different dynamic between Fury and Talos that we had seen in our sort of 90s buddy action movie, ‘Captain Marvel.’”

The grittiness of this miniseries also came in large part with its director, Ali Selem who came from the world of feature films to direct the mini-series. 

“It’s a very human show. It’s the Nick Fury story. He’s a human… He does have his own version of superpowers, but they’re not like superhero superpowers,” Selem says. “And it’s a story about him putting his feet back on the ground once again after some time. And I like that because I like human stories that come from the heart and are human-scaled and reach for a universal appeal rather than the reverse of that.”

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Don Cheadle as James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes ‘Secret Invasion’.Marvel Studios / 2022 MARVEL

The director also mentioned that the creators looked at films such as ‘The Third Man’, and ‘The Conversation’ to help pull from both the tone and the heart of this story. 

“I hope that we brought enough of that to create the tone. And then there is a point in the story where Nick Fury realizes this is his own battle, and he sort of becomes a classic American Western hero. And the tone sort of shifted in the later episodes to Nick Fury as John Wayne,” Selem adds.

The six-part miniseries is currently available on the streaming platform, and it’s one of Marvel’s most unique takes on the universe to date. 

“If you really go back, it did kind of start on Captain Marvel, even if it wasn’t a Secret Invasion idea yet. I think it was the idea that there was more to do with this relationship and with these two characters, with Nick and with Talos,” states the VP of Production & Development at Marvel Studios, Jonathon Schwartz.

He finishes: “Disney+’s door sort of opened up, and we got the opportunity to play more in genres and expand the sandbox of what we can do. And that made Secret Invasion by itself a story that A, had great source material behind it and was a comic event that a lot of people knew and responded to, and was a very cool genre, specifically for these two characters. And I think that’s what really brought the show to life.”

Catch ‘Secret Invasion’ on Disney+ now.