The Marvel Cinematic Universe may be a big place full of a wide array of super humans, demigods, and aliens who brought peace to their homes or galaxies. Though saving the day from a villain is a dangerous part of Marvel Superhero job, some of the best heroes are the parents guide and share wisdom to their progeny. And to celebrate Father’s Day and the release of Secret Invasion, we take a look at some of the best fathers and father figures of the MCU.
What makes the MCU so fascinating is how it allows any character, whether it be the lead role or a supportive one, to have some sort of importance. And the one dynamic that seems to ground the comic book shared universe is the one between parent and child. While we’ve seen plenty of familial relationships before, the one that seems to be the most interesting is the father and father figure. Some may be tough and others are compassionate, have helped shape the title heroes to become better people.
No one can accuse someone like Wenwu (Tony Leung) of loving his children too much. Though the ruthless warlord used his powerful ten rings to expand his criminal empire for generations, the husband of Ying Li (Fala Chen) and the father of Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) and Xu Xialing (Meng’er Zhang) can be emotionally vulnerable and has some humorous commentary on culinary dishes. We learn how he set everything aside to be with his family and reverted to his old ways with such ferocity when that was all taken away. Flashbacks of a happier time when he could play Dance Dance Revolution with his family or simply cozy up on the couch reveal a softer and gentler side to the man. However, he was driven into madness when his wife was taken away. Forcing his son to undergo a brutal training regiment while neglecting his daughter. Ultimately, his grief pushed his children away, and his desperation to resurrect her caused him to seek them out. And when Shang-Chi and Xialing finally confronted their father, it wasn’t so much to defeat him as it was a means to find closure for all the emotional scarring he gave them due to his grief and sorrow.
Although King T’Chaka (John Kani) met an unfortunate end during Captain America: Civil War, his legacy continued through T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman). As the wise and compassionate king, he wished to open the borders of Wakanda to the world to hold the Avengers accountable for their actions after the events in Avengers: Age of Ultron. While T’Chaka kept some dark secrets from his family, he also taught T’Challa and Shuri valuable lessons about leadership, diplomacy, and compassion. Those words would serve as a pillar for the two when they respectively accepted the role of Black Panther in their respective films.
8. Drax the Destroyer
Sadly, we never met Drax’s (Dave Bautista) wife and daughter in any Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers, or Thor films. Although, it’s clear that he keeps their memory close to his heart. And you can hear that in how he speaks about them in the first few films. Of course, some of it may seem strange to people like Star-Lord, but the love is there. And with the help of his fellow Guardians of the Galaxy, he accomplished his goal of getting revenge on Ronan and Thanos.
As an Eternal, Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) was tasked with guiding the humans of Earth with progressive technology that would improve their lives. However, he fell into depression when he saw the worst in humanity when they built and dropped the atomic bomb. Later, he would start a family with Ben Stoss (Haaz Sleiman), with whom he shares a son. Though he hesitated to join the rest of the Eternals to stop Tiamut from awakening, Ben reminded him who he should be fighting for. And it’s because of his family that Phastos’ faith in humanity was restored. Other times, we saw a softer but still very protective side to Phastos when he revoked Thena’s (Angelina Jolie) babysitting privileges when she used one of her energy spears to retrieve a piece of fruit for his son.
6. Yusuf Khan
The MCU has many great dads, but few are as charming or endearing as Yusuf Khan (Mohan Kapur), the father of Aamir Khan (Saagar Shaikh) and Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani ). The father, whose appetite for Hostess fruit pies knows no bounds, has a sunny disposition is quite refreshing, especially since Kamala Kahn, aka Ms. Marvel, is his daughter. While there are some fathers blessed (or cursed) with superpowers, Yusuf is just a regular dad who is supportive of his children’s endeavors and interests, as noted by being there for his son, who is about to get married and partaking in being a part of his daughter’s obsession with the Avengers. But what distinguishes this dad from the rest is his immigrant story and how he dares to break that mold by being present and attentive to his children.
Namor (Tenoch Huerta) may not be a father at the time of this post. Still, he is a strong father figure to the Talokanil and the underwater kingdom of Talokan. He’s a highly complex man with a tragic backstory and a rage against the surface dwellers fueled by his love for his kingdom and people. What’s more, he doesn’t see his people as subordinates but more as members of his family whom he would protect at any cost. At one point, he refers to one of his fallen Talokanil, a victim of one of Nakia’s sonic blasts, as his child. Though there is nothing he can do to save her, he comforts her until her last breath and later seeks retribution by waging war against Wakanda. While this was an act of aggression, he was certainly justified in taking such action.
At first, Wong (Benedict Wong) may seem like an uptight and very disciplined master of the mystic arts, but underneath that tough exterior is a man who cares for his students and those with excellent sorcery potential. His stern appearance is undoubtedly off-putting and may scare some from pursuing the mystic arts. Still, some know how to break down those walls to reveal a man who loves a good tuna melt and is very judgy about Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavors. And despite what he may say about not knowing pop culture, you may find him jamming out to a Beyonce song or two. But the one thing that makes him a great father figure is his soft spot for lost kids, as noted by his tutoring America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) in ways of the mystic arts at the end of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Though Secret Invasion pulls from the pages of the acclaimed comic book story arc, it features a very human story and sees the alien Skrulls having very human relationships between themselves and other Earthlings. There’s the relationship between G’iah (Emilia Clarke) and her estranged father Talos. And then there’s the complicated relationship between Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and his surrogate son, Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir). Of course, having a relationship between these two during a time where trust is an issue and not everyone is who they appear to be isn’t easy. So lets take a look at what makes our favorite characters who will appear in Secret Invasion fathers and father figures.
3. James Rhodes
James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), aka War Machine, could be seen as Tony Stark’s, aka Iron Man, best friend and strongest supporter of the billionaire playboy philanthropist’s endeavors, especially when he’s fighting other high-tech villains or aliens. But he is also a father figure to Tony. Using military discipline and a solid moral compass to help Tony make the right decision or a shoulder to lean on when he’s experiencing PTSD, Rhodey is always there whenever he needs it. He strives to maintain a sense of professionalism by keeping things copacetic between the rebellious Tony Stark and the military. Above all, he’s someone you can count on to help you in a pinch and would move heaven and Earth to find his friends should they ever be held captive by criminal organizations.
Though Rhodey plays more of a political role now acting as an envoy and ambassador, he still lives by a code of holding one accountable for their actions. And it appears that Nick Fury has a lot to answer for in his absence post-Blip.
In Captain Marvel, we learn everything is not what it appears. Such is the case for Talos, a Skrull refugee, and father, who wants what is best for his family and his fellow Skrulls people after they were forced to flee their homeworld because of the Kree Empire. Though there weren’t too many moments between himself and his young daughter, G’iah, we got to see how devoted he was to protecting his family from those threatening to break it. Eventually, he, Captain Marvel, and Nick Fury were able to defeat Yon-Rag and his Starforce so that they could search for a habitable planet without having to worry about being hunted by the Kree. He’s pragmatic and protective of those he cares about, which shows through his actions. What he lacks in combat skills he makes up for in his ability to use shapeshifting with his spy craft and espionage. And his misunderstanding of human socialization allows him to use humor as a defense mechanism to diffuse tense situations. Of course, since he doesn’t understand human socialization, his interactions can create some awkward moments. Which can be embarrassing for any kid.
But things are far more complicated now between Talos and G’iah in Secret Invasion. The latter is estranged from her father, whom she blames for the death of her mother. Though is at odds with her father, she has a lot of his heart and humor. Her great resentment towards her estranged father gives her an edge, but she still has the capacity to be compassionate and kind, and occupies an espionage space that’s rife with moral ambiguity. If anything, Secret Invasion will put Talos and G’iah’s father-daughter relationship to the test. So we’ll just have to see if they can forgive each other for past sins.
1. Nick Fury
It all started with an idea from one man. The idea was to bring together a group of of remarkable people to see if they could become something more. To see if they could work together when we needed them to, to fight the battles that we never could. And that man was Nick Fury. The man has had humanity’s best interest at heart, going from a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent to a respected leader, and father figure. He had assembled a ragtag crew of unlikely heroes and is the one who holds together whenever it feels like they fall apart. Though he may operate in a moral grey area, he is the one to inspire the heroes to rise up after their defeats – like he did in Avengers. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the father figure gave the titular team of heroes a moral boost and instead of giving them the answer to the tough questions, he let them figure it out for themselves. And whenever there is trouble, he can just beep mommy over to give the Avengers much needed help.
But Nick Fury is a changed man post-Blip. When he is summoned to earth to respond to the Skrull invasion, we see him as a tired old man, who’s still very resourceful, but isn’t too happy to have his feet back on the ground. That said, he will do anything to protect humanity, and the first two episodes strip away the enigma that surrounded him to reveal a man who had a quit-pro-quo relationship with the Skrulls. As long as they helped protect the Earth under the guise of regular humans, he would help them find. anew home. And he immediately took the limited series’ eventual lead-antagonist Gravik under his wing as his survivalist story resonates with his own traumas. But his failure to live up to his promise put a rift between the two, which would later serve as motivation for the Skrull to call for the invasion of Earth. So it will be interesting to see how the show peels back the layers of this complicated relationship.
Secret Invasion debuts exclusively on Disney+ on June 21, 2023.