It’s been a minute since the last Marvel Cinematic Universe series hit Disney+, but as we cruise into summer 2023, we know that the streamer has three MCU shows lined up before the year’s out, including Loki season 2 and Echo. But first we have Secret Invasion, an event series that may change everything we know about some of our favorite MCU characters, set to kick off Phase 5.
In the big budget Marvel show, Nick Fury uncovers a conspiracy that a group of shapeshifting Skrulls are planning to infiltrate Earth in positions of power, and he has to get back to business and help save the day. Nick isn’t the only recognizable face in this story; Everett K. Ross, Maria Hill, Rhodey, and Talos will all make appearances here, but things may not quite be as they seem, as some major MCU characters are set to be unmasked as imposters.
Here are the cast of characters both new and old in Secret Invasion, and where you might’ve seen them before…
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
Samuel L. Jackson is known for many iconic roles over the years, especially in his collaborations with Spike Lee in School Daze, Do the Right Thing, Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Oldboy, and Chi-Raq, and Quentin Tarantino in Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Django Unchained, and The Hateful Eight, but many people also associate him with the character of Nick Fury in the MCU.
Fury first appeared in the MCU during a post-credits scene in 2008’s Iron Man, when he began forming the Avengers Initiative. Fury’s efforts would pay off as he assembled Captain America, Black Widow, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, and Hulk for world-saving missions, but as we catch up with Fury in Secret Invasion, he is tired and unsure of his place in the world, having spent many years in deep space. The former director of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns to Earth to face a new Skrull conflict in the series, without the Avengers to rely on.
Ben Mendelsohn as Talos
We first met Talos in the 2019 MCU movie Captain Marvel, where he was initially thought to be villainous, however, it was later revealed that Talos was simply a Skrull refugee who had fled to Earth with his family after the Kree destroyed their homeworld. Talos and Nick Fury became close allies, with Talos even posing as Fury on Earth while Fury was offworld during Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Talos is played by Ben Mendelsohn, a character actor who has been active in the industry since the mid-80s. He is best known for his roles as Ralph Anderson in the HBO crime miniseries The Outsider, Danny Rayburn in Netflix’s Bloodline, Director Krennic in the Star Wars franchise, and Nolan Sorrento in Ready Player One.
Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill
Former high-ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill, played by Cobie Smulders, used to work side by side with Fury but has lost contact with him while his missions have taken him further afield. Little is known of Hill’s background, but she has always been someone that Fury can trust with his life.
Smulders has starred as the character in the MCU since 2012’s The Avengers, but has also featured as one of the leads in the long-running sitcom How I Met Your Mother, as Mrs. Quagmire in Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Dex Parios in the cancelled-too-soon Stumptown.
Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross
Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman) returns in Secret Invasion, but it’s not been too long since we last saw him! 2022’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever had former CIA agent Ross arrested for treason via orders from his ex-wife, CIA director Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). The character has been evolving since he first appeared in Captain America: Civil War, but seems to be experiencing a tumultuous time in this Disney+ series.
Freeman will likely make for a familiar face to fans of the original UK version of The Office, the BBC’s Sherlock, The Hobbit film trilogy (2012–2014), or the Fargo TV series, in which he starred as Lester Nygaard during the first season.
Kingsley Ben-Adir as Gravik
Gravik is the leader of a group of rebel Skrulls who have lost patience with Talos’ faction. They believe that by infiltrating Earth in positions of power, they will finally get the resources they need; resources that were promised to Talos’ Skrulls but never delivered. Gravik is a high profile role for Ben-Adir, who has previously appeared as pathologist Marcus Summer in ITV’s Vera. He also portrayed detective Karim Washington on the second season of The OA, and you may remember him from series four and five of Peaky Blinders. He is also in this year’s Barbie movie!
Dermot Mulroney as President Ritson
The MCU has a new President of the United States of America in Secret Invasion, and he’s being played by none other than Dermot Mulroney! If you’re a fan of the Scream franchise, you may have already had a hit of Mulroney earlier this year on the big screen, as he was one of the main characters in Scream 6. The actor is also known for his roles in Young Guns, My Best Friend’s Wedding, About Schmidt, and Zodiac. Mulroney’s TV parts have included Sean Pierce in Showtime’s Shameless and Bobby Sheridan in USA’s The Purge.
Emilia Clarke as G’iah
Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke is a major new addition to Marvel, playing Talos’ grown up daughter, G’iah. The character previously appeared in Captain Marvel as a child, but has now been recast, with Clarke taking over the role. Although the actress’s breakout role of Daenerys Targaryen was in the aforementioned HBO fantasy series, she has also appeared in various films like Terminator Genisys, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Me Before You, and Last Christmas.
Clarke’s G’iah has spent her life living as a Skrull refugee and is resentful towards Nick Fury as he has never delivered on the promises he made to find their group of Skrulls as a new home, and she has become very rebellious.
Olivia Colman as Sonya Falsworth
Multi-award-winning British actress Olivia Colman plays Sonya Falsworth, an MI6 agent who used to be on very friendly terms with Fury but is concerned about the infiltration of England by Skrulls.
Colman’s breakout role was in the iconic British sitcom Peep Show, but she has also featured in Green Wing, Flowers, The Crown, Broadchurch, The Night Manager (with Loki star Tom Hiddleston) Heartstopper, The Favourite, and Fleabag.
Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes
Don Cheadle returns to the MCU again this year as Rhodey aka War Machine, the late Tony Stark’s best friend. Rhodey is still very high up in the American military, and now reports to President Ritson. That may put him at odds with Nick, who is more rogue than ever in Secret Invasion. Rhodey was one of a group of Avengers not missing in The Blip, and helped carry out the Time Heist to defeat the forces of Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, but we last saw him encouraging Sam Wilson to take up the Captain America mantle in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Cheadle is a beloved character actor, having appeared in House of Lies, Devil in a Blue Dress, Boogie Nights, Bulworth, Out of Sight, Traffic, and The Ocean’s Trilogy. He replaced Terence Howard as Rhodey in the MCU in Iron Man 2, and has played him ever since.
Secret Invasion is streaming weekly on Disney from June 21