Secret Invasion premiered on Disney Plus on Wednesday, and we finally get to see this Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) adventure that might prove to be so consequential to the entire MCU. Some of the early reviewers criticized the slow pace of the first two episodes, but I explained that there’s no reason to panic about those early reactions. Thanks to those opinions, I did not expect any major developments from Secret Invasion episode 1, let alone the death of a major character.
Then again, death is a major theme of the MCU, a signal that the stakes are huge and that the good guys won’t always survive. And death is hardly surprising for a spy story like Secret Invasion when one side can shape-shift into anyone they want.
Before examining this major MCU death, I’ll warn you that big spoilers follow below, so stop reading here until you watch the first episode.
I did not flinch when Agent Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) died early in the episode. It was clear that we were duped from the first scenes. This isn’t Agent Ross we know and love. He’s a Skrull, masquerading as Ross, looking to learn what the human spies know about their operations. Then Marvel confirmed it, showing Ross’s face morphed back to the Skrull operative in disguise.
This early death told me that we’d see other similar fight scenes where you wouldn’t necessarily know who to root for. You see, Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) was chasing after fake-Ross. But Talos was “wearing” the face of a Russian agent.
Maria Hill just died, and I didn’t see it coming
I never expected to see the show’s first heartbreaking death so soon. It happens during the climax of the first episode when the bad Skrull faction detonates several bombs in Moscow. Their mission is to start a war between the US and Russia. A war that could turn nuclear and lead to the eradication of the human species.
Skrulls don’t mind radiation. That’s why they’re living inside former Russian atomic facilities. They’d inherit the entire planet in case of a nuclear catastrophe.
As the bombs go off, we have Fury, Talos, and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) chasing after Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir) and G’iah (Emilia Clarke). G’iah is Talos’s daughter, who has just realized she might be working for the wrong Skrull faction.
At this point, we see Maria going toward Fury, only for the latter to shoot her point-blank. It wasn’t Fury, of course. This was Gravik briefly having stolen Fury’s appearance.
While I was shocked to see Maria Hill die, I certainly loved how Marvel handled her death. I said recently that I’d love Secret Invasion to tell us that Nick Fury is a Skrull by the end of the show. Well, Marvel somewhat delivered that twist. However, this isn’t exactly what I had in mind. It was Gravik wearing the Fury “shell.”
Is Hill really dead?
As for Maria’s death, it looks like it’s the real deal. This seems to be the human Maria Hill, who we’ve seen in various MCU adventures, starting with the first Avengers movie. She did not turn into a Skrull at the end of Secret Invasion, which would have implied that the real Hill is still alive somewhere.
Sadly for her, Hill foreshadowed her fate during that chess match with Fury, where she had questioned his ability to play the spy game. Any mistakes could get people killed.
I’ve been waiting for years to see Marvel give Smulders’ character more screen time. Secret Invasion seemed to be where we’d see more of Maria Hill, Nick Fury’s most trusted ally.
Perhaps Marvel didn’t show us everything, and that Maria Hill was actually a Skrull agent. Maybe a friend of Talos. But Talos would probably know she’s not the real Maria.
Maybe this is a spy Gravik embedded. But even he might not know whether he’s looking at a Skrull or Agent Hill.
We did see Talos’s wife play Maria Hill in Spider-Man: Far From Home. But back then, Talos’s wife was still alive. She died off-screen, as we learned in this episode. And she died at the hands of Gavrik’s Skrulls.
Maybe Hill is barely alive as the camera pans out, and that’s why she wouldn’t turn into a Skrull. Maybe episode 2 will reveal that it wasn’t really Maria Hill working with Fury in episode 1.
Interstingly, Cobie Smulders is credited for six episodes, which is the entire first season of Secret Invasion. That’s either an indication her character isn’t dead, or a way for Marvel to hide this big spoiler.