Cobie Smulders Reflects on Maria Hill's Journey in the MCU (Exclusive)

Nick Fury's righthand woman makes her return in 'Secret Invasion.'

Warning: spoiler alert! Spoilers ahead for the premiere episode of Marvel's Secret Invasion

As Nick Fury's righthand woman, Cobie Smulders' Maria Hill has been part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since the very first Avengers film back in 2012. And while the character has undergone something of a style evolution in the years since, she's remained a constant part of S.H.I.E.L.D. command.

"From the spandex and stiletto high heels to combat boots and blue jeans," Smulders joked with ET's Ash Crossan at the premiere for Marvel's latest limited series, Secret Invasion. "I blipped, I came back, I'm not wearing heels."

Within the on-screen world of the MCU, Hill and Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) have been MIA for several years. Fury fled to space after the world-shifting events of Avengers: Endgame, and Hill seems to have been laying low in his absence. But both return for Secret Invasion to deal with the rising threat of the alien Skrulls -- once allies of Fury, the refugee race has now split into factions, some of which are attempting to take Earth for themselves.

"[Nick Fury] has a really long history with the Skrulls," Smulders told ET at Comic-Con last summer. "He sort of feels responsibility towards them, and he feels like he owes them a debt. So, it's really, really complicated."

At the Secret Invasion premiere, Smulders shared that the new series is a tonal shift for Marvel, and one she was excited to be a part of. 

"I would say the tone of it is much darker than what they've had in the past," she noted. "I think the cool thing that Marvel is doing are these series where you get to look at these characters in a different way. You have more time to see them in their personal lives."

"We really get to see that in this series with Nick Fury," the actress continued. "Like, who's the man of mystery, truly? What is the rest of his family like? Does he have a family? What does he do in his off time?"

Unfortunately, following the Secret Invasion premiere, it seems that one of the things Fury will be doing is mourning his second in command. After Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir) took Fury's form during the chaos of the Skrulls bombing St. Petersburg, he shot Hill from close range, and the real Fury had to watch as she bled out -- seemingly signaling the end of her time in the Marvel Universe. (Though, as loyal fans know, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents have returned in the past from similarly-fatal wounds.)

"I've been a pretty lucky lady," Smulders shared of her time in the MCU during ET's roundtable interview with the Secret Invasion cast, making special note of her scenes with Jackson.

Courtesy of Sony Pictures

"The thing I love about Sam is that he creates such a fun atmosphere on and off set," she shared. "Especially in these really dark scenes that we sometimes have to do together, when someone yells cut, it's just back to fun and happiness."

Despite her on-screen demise, Hill is reported to be part of the upcoming MCU team-up film, The Marvels, though that doesn't necessarily mean Smulders' character is being resurrected. It's possible that the film -- a follow-up to 2019's Captain Marvel, which was set in the 1990s -- could feature the character in flashback scenes. With the usual Marvel lockdown on future details and spoilers, fans will just have to wait and see!

Secret Invasion is streaming now on Disney+, with new episodes premiering every Wednesday.