The upcoming Disney+ Secret Invasion series is set to explore the ground level of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Focused more on spies and aliens than superheroes, Secret Invasion will unite many of the government agents and more human characters in a tense and distrustful environment.

As the series is said to take place in “the present-day MCU,” there are quite a few Marvel projects to watch if you want to be fully prepared — especially since the lead characters of Secret Invasion appear throughout all of the MCU. Let’s take a look at what Marvel movies and TV to watch before Secret Invasion.

Watch Before Secret Invasion

Iron Man 2

Though Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury first appears in Iron Man 1 to tease the eventual crossover movie, Iron Man 2 was where the character had his first substantial role. We learn about S.H.I.E.L.D. and Fury’s role in it, as well as the lengths he’ll go to in order to have control or an understanding of the circumstances around him. Essentially, this is where Fury’s character is truly established.

James Rhodes/Rhodey’s role is also expanded upon, as he finally gets to suit up in the War Machine armor. Given this is also Don Cheadle’s first time playing Rhodey after Terrence Howard did so in Iron Man 1, the relationship between Rhodey and Stark, as well as that between Rhodey and the government, is clear, even without watching the original Iron Man.

The Avengers

As the first big crossover of the MCU, The Avengers is a major film. It serves as the introduction for Fury’s right-hand woman, Maria Hill — played by How I Met Your Mother star Cobie Smulders. Hill’s character is established as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s no-nonsense Deputy Director.

Fury plays a big role as well, uniting the Avengers initially and motivating them to work together following the untimely death of Agent Coulson. We get some insight into the shadier side of S.H.I.E.L.D., reinforcing the idea that Fury and his agents do whatever is necessary for the greater good.

Watch Before Secret Invasion

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

As S.H.I.E.L.D. crumbles from within due to the deeply rooted HYDRA, Fury and Hill both play substantial roles in the first Captain America sequel. The fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a major event in the MCU, with the situation being especially significant to Fury and Hill due to their ranking within it. This makes The Winter Soldier a movie that should definitely be watched before Secret Invasion.

We learn more about Fury — who has faked his own death by the end — and see the beginning of the post-S.H.I.E.L.D. landscape. This movie gives Fury and Hill some of their most substantial roles in an MCU project, showing how capable they are of keeping up with the super-powered world using their wits and gadgets.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron is another big team-up movie that alters the status quo of the MCU. Maria Hill is present at the Avengers party near the beginning of the movie, showing off a side of the character that was unseen — Hill outside of work. She plays cards and jokes with the Avengers, showing that the firm secret agent side isn’t always “on.”

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Fury appears later in the movie to once again give the superhero team advice and motivation, followed by a last-minute arrival at the Battle of Sokovia alongside Hill. This is the movie that first shows audiences that Fury and Hill have plenty to offer the heroes, even with S.H.I.E.L.D. gone.

Captain America: Civil War

Though it’s titled “Captain America,” Civil War is almost an Avengers movie. There’s a full cast here, and once more, the MCU’s status quo is altered as the Avengers split up over the Sokovia Accords. Fury and Hill aren’t too important to this one, but Rhodey catches a stray blast from Vision and is paralyzed from the waist down. Tony Stark/Iron Man creates robotic leg braces to let him walk.

This movie also introduces another member of Secret Invasion’s cast — Everett Ross, played by Sherlock and The Hobbit star Martin Freeman. Here, Ross is in charge of the Joint Counter Terrorist Centre and oversees the capture of Bucky Barnes — who is later taken to Wakanda — and of Helmut Zemo.

Black Panther

In Black Panther, Ross appears in a bigger role as a CIA agent who is tracking Vibranium thief Ulysses Klaue. Ross works with T’Challa/Black Panther and his allies to stop Erik Killmonger’s plans of inciting a massive conflict. This movie establishes Ross as a capable agent with noble intentions and as an ally of Wakanda, which would be expanded upon in the 2022 sequel.

Avengers: Infinity War

Given Avengers: Infinity War‘s shocking ending that sees half of all life in the universe snuffed out, it’s an important movie to any storyline in the MCU. The post-credits scene, in particular, shows Fury and Hill contact Captain Marvel before disintegrating as a result of Thanos’ snap. Just how much experiencing death and missing five years of time has affected the two characters going forward is largely unknown, though Secret Invasion will be the biggest project to feature the two since, so we may get more insight into that soon.

Watch Before Secret Invasion

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel is an essential movie to Secret Invasion, as it introduces the shapeshifting race of aliens known as the Skrulls to the MCU. The leader of the group seen in Captain Marvel, Ben Mendelsohn’s Talos, is also introduced. Talos is set to play a major role in Secret Invasion, as he and Fury are allies while dealing with the titular invasion.

The persecution of the Skrulls at the hands of the Kree, as well as the Kree-Skrull War, play a big part in the Skrulls’ MCU presence thus far. Just how central that will be to the Skrulls’ actions during Secret Invasion is unknown, but regardless, Captain Marvel is a movie you should watch before Secret Invasion for how it introduces the Skrulls and their leader.

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Avengers: Endgame

The follow-up to Infinity War sees Nicky Fury and Maria Hill brought back by Hulk’s snap alongside the rest of the lifeforms who were snapped away. This is the movie that had the biggest impact on the current MCU, as recent projects have shown how major heroes and regular people have dealt with the aftereffects of “The Blip.” Secret Invasion is set in a world that is still figuring out post-Blip life, so be sure to watch Endgame to understand the setting.

Watch Before Secret Invasion

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Nick Fury appears a fair amount in the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming, which explores the post-Blip world. The thing is, this isn’t actually Nick Fury. After acting a bit strange throughout the movie, we find out that Fury was actually Talos in disguise and that Fury himself is out in space for some reason. This scene serves as a reminder of how easy it is for a Skrull to take a person’s place while also potentially setting up some Fury and Talos plotlines that will be addressed in Secret Invasion.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

One character who hasn’t been confirmed that could absolutely make an appearance is Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. Given her government position and involvement with Everett Ross, who plays a role in Secret Invasion, it’s hard to believe she wouldn’t be aware of the Skrulls. The series also provides a closer look at the post-Endgame environment of the MCU from the ground level, which is where Secret Invasion seems to be occurring. Rhodey also briefly appears to encourage Sam, showing that he’s still active after Endgame.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Finally, we have the most recent movie of the list, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Though Everett Ross features less in this sequel than in the first movie, he and his ex-wife — The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s Val — do have their own side-journey.

After seemingly reuniting with Val, Ross is arrested by her for sharing secrets with the Wakandans to aid the nation as the world turns against them. Since Okoye frees him before he makes it to prison, Ross’ current status is unknown. Secret Invasion will likely pick up after this, however, continuing Ross’ story as he navigates the titular event.

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