Marvel Studios’ Secret Invasion Director Talks Classic Thrillers Influence

John Nguyen


Samuel L. Jackson was there from the very beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe when he first appeared as Nick Fury in the stinger for Iron Man (2008). With Secret Invasion, this marks the first time the former SHIELD director is finally getting his own Marvel Studios project. It’s been 15 years later, but better late than never. In the new Disney+ series, Nick Fury will have to stop a group of Rebel Skrulls from taking over Earth.

Marvel Studios is changing gears again for Secret Invasion, giving it an espionage, political-thriller element similar to Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The series is also inspired by other thrillers from the past including The Conversation and The Third Man. Audiences will learn more about the Skrulls, and Nick Fury, getting to see more of his personal life and his deeper interactions with other MCU characters like Rhodey (Don Cheadle).

“It’s just peeling the onion and having a good time,” Jackson said during the Secret Invasion press conference. “You meet people that I know, and I never had an in-depth scene with Don. We’ve been waiting to do this for years and years and years. 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. We get other new information. We go to his house. We don’t know if it’s a condo. You got to watch to find out if I live in a condo or a real house. See if I have a yard, you know? So that kinda stuff. What kind of furniture does Nick Fury have?”

Kingsley Ben-Adir as Rebel Skrull leader Gravik in Marvel Studios’ Secret Invasion. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios.

Secret Invasion Executive Producer Jonathan Schwartz came into Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige’s office to discuss adapting the Secret Invasion comic arc into a live-action series.

“Well, there are story points that people will see over the course of the series, obviously,” Feige said. “But Jonathan came into my office a number of years ago when we were thinking about what kinds of shows to do on Disney Plus. And he came in with this idea of translating the great Secret Invasion storyline from the comics into a darker, grittier spy show, which we hadn’t done. And 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, 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 than we had seen in sort of our ’90s buddy action movie, Captain Marvel.”

Ali Selim is the director of all the episodes for Secret Invasion, and his TV directing credits include Criminal Minds, Peacock’s The Calling, AMC’s 61st Street, Discovery’s Manhunt and more.

“Well, I think it’s a very human show,” Selim said. “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. 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.”

The director reveals which classic noir thrillers influenced the making of Secret Invasion and also how the show will shift tonally from thriller to action.

“And I liked the espionage, political-thriller element, and we went back to look at The Third Man, and The Conversation, and things like that are very grounded and really human,” Selim added. “And I hope that we brought enough of that to create the tone. Without spoiler alert, 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.”

Here’s the synopsis for Secret Invasion:

“In Marvel Studios’ new series ‘Secret Invasion,’ set in the present day MCU, Nick Fury learns of a clandestine invasion of Earth by a faction of shapeshifting Skrulls. Fury joins his allies, including Everett Ross, Maria Hill and the Skrull Talos, who has made a life for himself on Earth. Together they race against time to thwart an imminent Skrull invasion and save humanity.”

The show is created by Kyle Bradstreet and directed by Ali Selim. It stars Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Cobie Smulders, Martin Freeman, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Emilia Clarke, Olivia Colman, and Don Cheadle.

Secret Invasion releases on Disney+ on June 21, 2023, and will consist of six episodes.