As superhero movies and TV shows lose their appeal to audiences, superhero-based media platforms are seeking new ways to captivate audiences. In response, Disney+ and Marvel have decided to create a thrilling limited series based on the most badass non-caped character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury. Secret Invasion will finally give Fury the spotlight in a six-episode series.
Marvel’s initial live action series to premiere in 2023 will be the first series in the Phase Five, which will portray the weakened Nick Fury confronting yet another global crisis. Fury has a history of struggles, having been in charge of the covert spy organization S.H.I.E.L.D. that was discovered to be infiltrated by Neo-Nazis in Captain America: Winter Soldier. Moreover, he vanished for five years due to the actions of the villainous Thanos at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. Fans of Marvel are well aware of Fury’s hardships.
As the Secret Invasion kicks off, he has come back to Earth following years of being away, working on a new protection mechanism for the planet. He now sports an unkempt beard, a jaded demeanor, and hardly shows any indication of the confident, strategic mindset that enabled him to assemble the Avengers and control some of the mightiest creatures in the cosmos just a few films back.
Maria Hill, portrayed by Cobie Smulders, expresses her disappointment in Fury’s abilities despite being his prized protégé. She warns him that he is not prepared for the task at hand and reminds him of his past advice to walk away when the path is unclear. Hill ominously suggests that if he doesn’t reassess his approach, there will be consequences.
An old spy seeking redemption
This message has become a common theme in various recent TV series, including Star Trek: Picard and Shrinking. A renowned and prominent actor portrays a character who confronts their aging, mortality, and the consequences of their past choices. They question if they possess the resilience to tackle one final significant obstacle, typically portrayed by male characters.
This task is quite difficult. The Skrulls, who are extraterrestrial beings capable of changing their shape, are seeking refuge from a war in another galaxy. Fans of the movie Captain Marvel may recognize them. A dangerous group within the Skrulls is no longer willing to wait for Fury to fulfill his promise to find them a new home. Instead, they have a plan to claim Earth as their own by posing as influential human leaders and directing humanity towards self-destruction.
The Secret Invasion series follows the trend of Marvel movies, which can be more than just superhero films. For instance, Ant Man is a heist movie, while Spider-Man projects often explore coming-of-age themes. Secret Invasion, on the other hand, takes on an espionage thriller genre, with a focus on Fury’s spy skills, creating a suspenseful drama.Throughout the first two episodes, almost every major character who meets Fury wonders if he’s too burnt out or distraught to save the day, which is a question that Olivia Colman’s character Sonya Falsworth, a British spy with a school headmistress’ vocal tones and Fury’s ruthlessness, raises specifically.
Being a fan of both James Bond-style espionage tales and comic books, I must confess to having a liking for Nick Fury even prior to his transformation as a Black man in the Ultimate Marvel comics. He used to be a secret agent with superheroic abilities who led a team of capable agents in action-packed stories that were a blend of Mission Impossible and The Avengers.
I was thrilled when Jackson was chosen to play Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. It’s a perfect fit for the veteran actor who is known for his tough-talking characters that outshine those in power, just like a true spy. Additionally, Fury’s character never loses sight of the fact that he is a Black man trying to navigate through the world, which adds a level of authenticity to the character. It’s a mix between James Bond and Shaft.
During a scene in Secret Invasion, Fury engages in a heated discussion with James “Rhodey” Rhodes played by Don Cheadle, regarding the importance of unity and reliability. It’s worth noting that Cheadle’s portrayal of Rhodes was not simply relegated to the typical supporting character role which is often seen in Marvel stories. This conversation between two characters, who are portrayed by two men that are close friends in reality, foreshadows that they will eventually end up on the same team.
A show that doesn’t need a guy in a cape
By placing an emphasis on an aging Nick Fury who finds it challenging to deal with a crisis caused by his own unfulfilled commitments, we are presented with a narrative that centres on a flawed protagonist instead of a superhero juggling CGI cars. Even if some people have grown tired of Marvel and the prevalence of superheroes in Hollywood, they may still find little reason to take an interest in this show.
As a critic who once envisioned the possibility of great comic book stories being adapted into successful TV shows or films, the idea of a talented actor like Jackson portraying a flawed, relatable hero seems like the ultimate solution to combat superhero fatigue.