Warning: This story contains spoilers about the plot of Secret Invasion season 1.
Marvel’s newest Disney+ series, Secret Invasion, made its debut by seemingly killing off one of the franchise’s major characters.
The series, which followed S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) as he goes head-to-head with shape-shifting aliens, premiered on Disney+ on Wednesday, June 21. In the first episode, Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) appeared to meet her match at the hands of Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir), the leader of a faction of Skrulls looking to take over the Earth.
In the aftermath of an explosion set off in Russia by Gravik and more Skrulls (the same aliens introduced in 2019’s Captain Marvel), Maria is shot in the stomach by the supervillain — who’s disguised as Nick. Gravik manages to escape before the real Nick holds his dying friend in his arms. The episode ends with Nick’s Skrull ally, Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), dragging him away from the scene as Maria’s body lies on the ground.
Maria’s surprisingly dark ending came as a shock to fans. “’FINALLY SECRET INVASION!! Maria Hill gets her time to shin[e] —’” one fan tweeted on Wednesday, while another wrote, “Marvel. i swear. i BETTER see maria hill alive before the show ends.”
Other social media users noted that Maria’s unexpected demise highlights how she’s been underused in Marvel Cinematic Universe. “The mcu never treated maria hill with the respect she deserved but to kill her like this in the pilot of a series she should be co-leading is so stupid. what is their problem??” one fan claimed.
Smulders, 41, made her debut as the former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in 2012’s The Avengers. She went on to reprise the role in the films Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home. She also made appearances in the Marvel shows Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., What If…? And Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.
After fighting many enemies with Nick over the years — from undercover Hydra agents to Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio — Maria’s fate seems set in stone. However, series director Ali Selim teased that he doesn’t know whether the character will return down the line.
“That’s a question for Kevin Feige — I don’t make those decisions about who goes or when,” he revealed in a recent interview with Polygon. “But I thought, ‘Oh, great, a death scene with Cobie Smulders. How fun is that going to be?’”
The How I Met Your Mother alum, for her part, is grateful for her years-long journey in the comic book franchise — even if Secret Invasion does mark her last outing as Maria. “I’ve been a pretty lucky lady,” she told Entertainment Tonight in an interview published on Wednesday.
Smulders — who shares two kids with her husband, Taran Killam — also praised the series for taking on a “much darker” tone than other projects in the MCU. “I think the cool thing that Marvel is doing are these series where you get to look at these characters in a different way,” she continued. “You have more time to see them in their personal lives.”
New episodes of Secret Invasion air Wednesdays on Disney+.