Marvel Studios now has a sizable catalogue, with 32 films released (at the time of this writing) and many, many more currently in production. While it used to be easy to binge them all over a long weekend, it's now an endeavor to catch up. And with new characters now introduced in television shows too, it takes some work to stay abreast of what's going on in the MCU. And each time a new show or movie comes out, it's worth going back and seeing how much you remember about the starring characters. It's not just the Avengers on screen anymore.

Marvel's newest show, Secret Invasion, is the perfect example of a show where it might help to do some homework. The overall story is standalone (and if you've been following the MCU since the beginning, you'll be fine), but is centered on a conflict covered back in 2019. In the four years since Captain Marvel premiered, a whopping 10 films and 8 television shows have entered the ever-expansive on-screen universe. So it's easy to forget what exactly happened and why it's still important all these years later.

So in case you need a refresher, or just want a trip down memory lane, here's everything we recommend you watch before Secret Invasion to be fully prepared for any easter eggs, name drops, and backstory. You shouldn't need more than a weekend to catch up (or if you just want the most important film, a few hours is all that's needed), and the entries on this list are some of the more significant MCU projects of its decade-plus run. For once, you'll have fun doing your homework.

Must Watch for Secret Invasion:

Captain Marvel

captain marvel
Marvel Studios

Captain Marvel is the only movie you really need to see to know the main plot points in Secret Invasion. Here, we meet the Skrulls as refugees searching for a new home, and the MCU introduces Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), the Skrull commander who at first appears to be an adversary to Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), but is later seen as a dedicated leader simply defending his people from the Kree. It turns out the Skrulls are simply trying to find a new home after the Kree destroyed theirs, and Earth appeared to be a likely candidate. Fury, along with Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) and Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), stop the Kree (the enemy of the Skrulls) and keep the Skrulls safe from further massacre. At the end of the film, Danvers leaves Earth to find a new world for the Skrulls, but hands Fury a pager to call her from anywhere in the universe in case of emergencies.

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Worth a Watch for Secret Invasion:

The Avengers

the avengers
Marvel Studios

For more of a history of Nick Fury and his time with superheroes, start with The Avengers. While he's first introduced in the Iron Man credits scene and plays a key role in Iron Man 2, it's in The Avengers that we see Fury form the titular superhero team and manage their egos and differing personalities in a way that finds them working together but also protecting the Earth from significant threats. From then on, he essentially has a direct line to any and all superheroes, and calls them up whenever they're needed to solve an existential threat to the universe.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

winter soldier captain america
Marvel Studios

Next up is Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The film takes place two years after the events of The Avengers, and gives us a taste of what Fury is like in espionage mode, as he is in Secret Invasion. It also explains his suspicion of leaders and government officials. Fury is as lone wolf as it gets, and The Winter Soldier explains why.

S.H.I.E.L.D. becomes compromised, and over the course of the movie, it's discovered under the leadership of Alexander Pierce (played by Robert Redford), research from Hydra was recovered, and one of their experiments, the Winter Soldier, was reactivated to help create global chaos and convince humanity to give up their freedom in exchange for security. Fury is supposedly killed when he's attacked by the Winter Soldier, but it's later revealed he faked his death for anonymity.

At the end of the film, Fury shoots Pierce, ending his reign of S.H.I.E.L.D., and embarks on a covert mission across Eastern Europe to eliminate any remaining Hydra cells.

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Avengers: Age of Ultron

age of ultron
Marvel Studios

Age of Ultron picks up right where Winter Soldier ends, with the Avengers taking down another Hydra cell. It also serves as the introduction for Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen). Fury isn't as present here as he was in Winter Soldier, and reportedly said at the time, "There's not a lot I could do except shoot a gun."

Still, in the brief moments we see Fury, we learn he's still incognito after faking his death, and doesn't have S.H.I.E.L.D.'s resources to help them face the genocidal artificial intelligence Ultron. At the end though, we see Fury provide some help via Helicarrier and, presumably, establish a new base of operations (which we see led by Captain America and Black Widow).

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Spider-Man: Far From Home

far from home marvel
Marvel Studios

Spider-Man: Far From Home gives us a more recent update on what Fury's been up to post-Endgame. Fury is a major character in the 2019 film. Here, Fury recruits Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), a former Stark employee pretending to be a superhero to steal Stark's old tech. When Fury and Peter Parker realize Beck is a fraud, they team up to expose and defeat him. The most important thing to know about Fury, though, is in the post-credits scene. There, we see he and Maria Hill were never actually on Earth, and instead sent Talos and his wife, Soren, in their place. Fury actually left Earth immediately after people came back from the Snap, potentially right after Tony Stark's funeral. As we see, Fury is in space, commanding a S.A.B.E.R. space station.

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If You Haven't Seen It and Feel Like Watching:


Marvel Studios

By now, you're likely asking: what in the world is S.A.B.E.R? For a bit more context, you should check out WandaVision. While the show focuses on Wanda Maximoff post-Avengers: Endgame, it also brings back Monica Rambeau (Maria Rambeau's now adult daughter, played by Teyonah Parris) after Captain Marvel. Fury doesn't feature on the show, but it does have a connection to his time in space. Monica is a member of S.W.O.R.D., which hasn't been fully explained yet in the MCU, but the organization has a direct connection to S.A.B.E.R., Fury's space station. In Marvel Comics lore (and loosely defined in the MCU), S.W.O.R.D. is an organization meant to protect Earth from anything from an outside planet (the now-defunct S.H.I.E.L.D. was more about protecting Earth from its own threats, so there's a chance that S.W.O.R.D. now covers both planes, explaining why they responded to the Wanda Maximoff/Westview threat in New Jersey).

And the show's finale features a Skrull in its post-credits scene, telling Monica a friend of her mother's wants to meet. Was that Nick Fury? That's an answer we may find out in Secret Invasion—or may have to wait until November's The Marvels, when we will presumable see Fury share the screen with Monica.

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Milan Polk
Milan Polk is an Editorial Assistant for Men's Health who specializes in entertainment and lifestyle reporting, and has worked for New York Magazine's Vulture and Chicago Tribune.