[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Secret Invasion, Season 1 Episode 1, “Mastery of Sabotage.”]
R.I.P. Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders)… as far as we know. That’s the shocking note on which the first episode of Secret Invasion, Marvel’s new Le Carre-esque Disney+ series, ends — with the loyal S.H.I.E.L.D. operative dead in Russia, following a terrorist attack spearheaded by Skrull revolutionary Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir).
While death is not often a permanent condition for characters in the comic book world (unless your multi-picture deal is up), Maria’s last moments in the premiere feel pretty final. Thus, it’s a sad moment for a supporting player whose appearances didn’t just offer a welcome burst of bad-assery, but helped to make the MCU, across its many phases, truly feel like an interconnected story universe.
Cobie Smulders’ appearances as Maria Hill include the premiere of Secret Invasion, three episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., six films (beginning with The Avengers and continuing through Spider-Man: Far from Home), and three voice-over performances (episodes of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur and What If…?, as well as a LEGO version of the character in LEGO Marvel’s Avengers).
Oh, and don’t forget the Las Vegas attraction Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N., where visitors can “access exclusive intelligence files, classified studies, and experiments that explore the history and scientific origins of The Avengers while training to become an official agent of the S.T.A.T.I.O.N.” More importantly, visitors can see Smulders in clips like the below.
As a character within the extended universe, Hill in the early years often felt like the person brought in when a S.H.I.E.L.D. heavy was needed and Marvel didn’t want to pay Samuel L. Jackson to play Nick Fury again. Smulders, though, made the role hers from the very beginning, a quiet, thoughtfully played supporting player who always served the story’s requirements.