He’s been lurking in the shadows of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, pulling superpowered strings, for over a decade now – but with new series Secret Invasion, Nick Fury is finally stepping into the light, and taking the lead. Samuel L. Jackson’s senior spy has been through a lot. He brought the Avengers together, watched S.H.I.E.L.D. break down, and nearly died, before being snapped out of existence and back again. Now, he’s facing an army of seriously unhappy Skrulls, the green-skinned, shapeshifting aliens he met in 2019’s Captain Marvel, to whom he promised refuge and a new home – something which, thirty years later, he still hasn’t delivered.
Secret Invasion is a different kind of mission, and that means a different kind of Nick Fury. His signature costume of an eye patch, goatee and long, black leather coat are being peeled away, as shown in the exclusive new image above, and the Fury we find underneath is altogether more fragile than we’ve ever seen him before. “All those things are part of a Nick Fury that’s invulnerable,” Jackson tells Empire for our new world-exclusive issue on the Marvel thriller series. “Here you have a guy who’s showing his face, and showing his age. It’s an opportunity to humanise someone that everybody thinks is superhuman.” Despite how long and often Fury has popped up on screen, we’ve gotten to know relatively little about who he is away from his Avenger-herding duties. Secret Invasion’s six hour-long episodes give Jackson more space to explore that side of the character. “I had to figure out some stuff and work out some new things, which I’ve been trying to do for a while,” says Jackson. “It’s great to have an opportunity to find out who he was and delve into how much of a toll his job actually takes on his personal life.” All that universe-saving has got to make finding a work-life balance pretty difficult.
This new, softer side of Nick Fury is something producer Jonathan Schwartz wanted to focus on, too – though in a more literal sense. “One of the things we really wanted to bring to this show that makes it a little bit unique in the Marvel universe is vulnerability,” he says. “Nick Fury is just a human, Maria Hill [Cobie Smulders] is just a human. A single bullet could take them out. That’s something we don’t always get in the MCU. To bring that level of tension, fear and vulnerability into one of our shows was really exciting.” With all this talk of bullets, and his “One last fight” line in the trailer, could Secret Invasion really be the end for Fury? Jackson hopes not. “I love playing him, and I love the fact that they’re opening him up to all these other possibilities and this whole life that he has,” he says. “So hopefully I’m not done, and in this new phase of the MCU I’ll still be floating in and out of there somehow, some way.” Fingers crossed.
Read Empire’s exclusive Secret Invasion cover story – speaking to stars Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Cobie Smulders, Don Cheadle, Emilia Clarke, Olivia Colman, director Ali Selim, and producer Jonathan Schwartz – in the upcoming Summer 2023 issue, on sale Thursday 11 May. Become an Empire member here to read the digital issue in full on launch day, or pre-order a print copy online here. Secret Invasion is streaming on Disney+ from 21 June.