Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige remarked a while back that their event series Secret Invasion would have more characters than Avengers: Endgame, which is an extremely bold claim to make even for the Marvel spokesperson. While we’re still waiting for confirmation on what Avengers or new heroes will be appearing in Secret Invasion, we got two high-profile additions to the cast this week.
Oscar-winner Olivia Colman (The Crown, Hot Fuzz, The Father, The Favorite, Peep Show) and four-time Emmy nominee Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Terminator Genisys) are more or less names you’d expect to be cast for a Marvel Studios feature film, not a Disney+ show. This could suggest that the roles may end up having a larger impact on the MCU and could carrying over to the films as well.
The stand-out here is obviously Emilia Clarke as she had been tapped for an unnamed role in Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 possibly when the script had a main female villain. Screenwriter Drew Pearce confirmed that Clarke had a major role in the film before there were script changes which director Shane Black further explained to Uproxx back in 2016 that is was Marvel corporate that squashed (by the remarks sounds like Ike Perlmutter) their attempt to have a female villain in Iron Man 3. The role according to Black was essentially going to be a female version of Guy Pearce’s Killian.
BLACK: “All I’ll say is this, on the record: There was an early draft of Iron Man 3 where we had an inkling of a problem. Which is that we had a female character who was the villain in the draft. We had finished the script and we were given a no-holds-barred memo saying that cannot stand and we’ve changed our minds because, after consulting, we’ve decided that toy won’t sell as well if it’s a female.”
“In the earlier draft, the woman was essentially Killian – and they didn’t want a female Killian, they wanted a male Killian. I liked the idea, like Remington Steele, you think it’s the man but at the end, the woman has been running the whole show.”
Connecting the two bits of information, Clarke was likely being tapped to play this female main villain before the changes were made. This alteration to the script was potentially why the villain hierarchy was a huge mess in Iron Man 3 and why a lot of people weren’t thrilled about the Killian/Mandarin twists, because it sounds like they were mandated changes from outside of the studio.
That wasn’t her only brush with an MCU casting as Emilia was a hopeful in 2012 to play the Sharon Carter role in the Russo Brothers’ Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The part eventually went to Emily VanCamp, who at the time was best known for her ABC series Revenge and wasn’t on many people’s radar at the time. Carter sadly didn’t have a massive impact in Captain America: Civil War and the character is only now getting some neat stuff to do in The Falcon & The Winter Soldier.
So, Marvel has been trying to find her a role for ages and unlikely would be courted to play some one-off if she had been eyed for both villain and heroic roles in the past.
Secret Invasion is going to likely feature multitude of film characters as there could be a direct tie-in with Nia DaCosta’s Captain Marvel 2 given their production (both shooting in the United Kingdom) and release proximity. It’s already been confirmed that Captain Marvel 2 will feature Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, Iman Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel, and Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau. We still don’t know who Zawe Ashton is playing the sequel outside of a villain and if she is a Skrull.
There is a small chance that Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther 2 could have connections to Secret Invasion given that Skrulls have attempted to invade Wakanda only to have their asses handed to them and would likely need to infiltrate them given their advanced technology/access to vibranium. Skrulls kidnapping T’Challa could be a good excuse for Marvel to have another character in the Black Panther mantle without the need to recast or use a CGI double in the sequel.
Once S.W.O.R.D. was introduced in WandaVision it opened the door for a wave of characters connected to the cosmic agency and it’s expected to play a large role in both Captain Marvel 2 and Secret Invasion. The two big female S.W.O.R.D. agents that could be perfect for Clarke are Abigail Brand (a mutant) and Jessica Drew aka Spider-Woman.
Having Abigail Brand in Secret Invasion could be the first move by Marvel Studios to slowly introduce mutants and X-Men into the MCU, as their X-Men reboot is still in early stages and despite continued rumblings of a Wolverine series they really haven’t announced anything official concerning mutants.
While the name Spider-Woman is owned by Sony, Jessica Drew debuted outside of the Spider-Man comic books making her fair game to be used by Marvel Studios. Sony Pictures is reportedly making a Spider-Woman movie with director Olivia Wilde (Booksmart, Don’t Worry Darling), however, it hasn’t been confirmed if Jessica Drew will lead that project or if Marvel Studios will produce it like they have with Jon Watts’ Spider-Man trilogy.
While the MCU’s version of Secret Invasion is going to have to be different from the comics to make it less predictable, Jessica Drew is revealed to be Skrull Queen Veranke. An interesting way to go could be that Clarke plays Brand or Drew with Olivia Colman playing real version of Queen Veranke in make-up. It’s still unclear if they’ll be friends or foes in the Disney+ show as Kingsley Ben-Adir is the only cast member specifically mentioned as playing a villain.
Secret Invasion will begin shooting this fall in the United Kingdom and assumed to debut on Disney+ in late 2022.