Secret Invasion Villain Gravik Has an Unexpected Power

The enemy in Marvel’s Secret Invasion may not be quite what you expect.

Kingsley Ben-Adir as Gravik in Secret Invasion
Photo: Gareth Gatrell/Marvel

There’s an expression (and we’re paraphrasing here) that says many of the best villains believe that they’re the hero of their own story. In terms of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that certainly seems to be a consistent theme: look at someone like Thanos, for example, who believes his insane quest to randomly wipe out trillions of lives is somehow a good thing for the cosmos.

However, in the case of Gravik – the rogue Skrull who leads an army of followers in a plan to take over the Earth in Marvel’s new series, Secret Invasion – that paradigm may be shifting slightly. This antagonist may want his people to believe that he’s acting, or least that he thinks he’s acting, in their best interests, but his true motivations may be hidden even from those who trust him most.

“I don’t think he believes in anything good,” says actor Kingsley Ben-Adir, who plays the sinister shapeshifter on the just-launched Disney+ series. “I would think he wants his people to believe that. But I think that his ability to manipulate the community of Skrulls is one of his powers, and actually what’s operating underneath that is something else.”

To be sure, Gravik does have a tragic backstory and is fueled to some extent by his rage at Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and now-deposed Skrull leader Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), who have made what he sees as empty promises to find the Skrulls a new home planet of their own. But Ben-Adir suggests that there’s more to what drives Gravik than meets the eye.

Ad – content continues below

“I think what he says and what he does are two different things,” says the actor, whose previous credits include Peaky Blinders, The OA, and an acclaimed performance as Malcolm X in the 2020 film One Night in Miami. “I think he’s testing everyone. I don’t think he trusts anyone, and I don’t think he likes anyone. I don’t think he cares about Skrulls as much as he doesn’t care about humans. He did before but now he doesn’t. His feelings are just about vengeance towards Nick and Talos.”

As the series opens, Nick Fury is called back to Earth after spending several years on the S.A.B.E.R. space station by Talos and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), who report that Gravik has taken over Skrull leadership and is rallying his people to commit terrorist attacks and destabilize human geopolitics.

Although the Skrulls may be infiltrating the ranks of allies and even the corridors of power with their shape-shifting abilities, Fury is astounded when the U.S. government, represented by James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle), and MI6, headed by Sonya Falsworth (Olivia Colman), both rebuff his offer to help, forcing Fury to take steps on his own. That puts him on a direct collision course with Gravik, who – at least as the first of the series’ six episodes comes to a close – seems to have gained the upper hand.

Gravik is a Marvel rarity: an original character with no direct antecedent or precise corollary in the established Marvel Comics canon. “There’s a creative freedom there,” says Ben-Adir, who admits that he “wasn’t a huge Marvel fan” before taking the role. “I didn’t have to worry about any of that. I guess in some ways, that could have been a huge help as well. But we created our own lane.”

Hang on a second, though: there may be even more to Gravik than anyone might suspect. Although he’s original to the Secret Invasion series, a final shot in the trailer for the show – in which Gravik unnaturally extends his arm in a weirdly Groot-esque nest of vine-like appendages – has launched intense speculation that the character may become the MCU’s version of Super-Skrull.

First introduced back in 1963 in Fantastic Four #18, Super-Skrull is a warrior named Kl’rt who is not just able to assume the shape of others, but is genetically enhanced to absorb their powers as well – taking on the abilities of all four members of Marvel’s First Family in his initial comics appearance.

Ad – content continues below

While Ben-Adir, like every other Marvel actor, is bound to secrecy when discussing Gravik or his future as Secret Invasion unfolds, he does leave us with this cryptic answer when asked about the Super-Skrull theory: “I would say that his ambition is to become as super as he can.”

Secret Invasion is now streaming on Disney+.