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Occasionally, people will (incorrectly) insist that Marvel’s comics and the cinematic stories inspired by them would be better off if they were somehow devoid of any political themes or ideas. But in a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Secret Invasion executive producer Jonathan Schwartz likened the series to John le Carré’s classic Cold War-era spy thrillers and pointed to more recent shows, like FX’s The Americans and Showtime’s Homeland, as sources of inspiration.
“We often see Nick Fury doing the right thing,” Schwartz said. “We don’t always see him doing it in a perfectly morally correct way. All of those things have ramifications. Without getting too specific, the things that Nick Fury’s had to do to protect the Earth have costs.”
Set some time after Avengers: Endgame, Secret Invasion tells the story of how Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) finally comes out of hiding to deal with a long-simmering issue involving the shape-shifting Skrull refugees first introduced in 2019’s Captain Marvel. When last we saw the Skrulls in Spider-Man: Far From Home, many of them, like Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), were still willingly living as humans and working as secret agents for Fury as he worked to find them a suitable new homeworld somewhere off in space. According to Jackson, though, Fury’s inability to make good on his word is a big part of what sets Secret Invasion in motion, and the series will focus on what happens when some of the aliens decide to take matters into their own hands.
“Nick had a whole Skrull spy network because they could shape-shift and go places that people couldn’t go,” Jackson said. “They kept their word. They worked for him, but he hasn’t done what he said he was going to do. They want a home. They want to live. They want to live like they are. They want to live in their skin. They don’t want to live in ours.”
Jackson said that the uneasiness of not knowing “who’s a friend, who’s the enemy” is what animates Secret Invasion and described the show as tapping into our own current political moment by asking, “What happens when people get afraid and don’t understand other people?”
Obviously, Fury will have more than enough reason not to trust Secret Invasion’s core antagonist Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir), the Skrull separatist who leads the charge to infiltrate the world’s governments by posing as ordinary humans. But the story’s likely going to be much more complicated when it comes to Gravik’s fellow separatist G’iah (Emilia Clarke), who also happens to be Talos’ estranged daughter.
“There’s a kind of punk feeling that you get from this girl,” Clarke said. “She’s a refugee kid who’s had Talos for a dad, you know what I mean? Maybe the fact that we didn’t know he had a kid up until this point tells you everything you need to know about their relationship.”
In the past, Marvel’s reluctance to really spend time digging into the ramifications of things like the Skrulls’ displacement in Captain Marvel has had a way of making the movies’ attempts at political commentary feel rather flat, which might have been the point. But Secret Invasion sounds very interested in both picking up on those threads and really tugging on them with some intention, and that might just be what it takes to make the series land with some heft when it premieres on June 21st.