What is a father? Someone who is always there for their child? A provider? Someone who provides guidance? A father is neither an anchor to hold us back nor a sail to take us there, but a guiding light whose love shows us the way. When you hear the word ‘father,’ you don’t automatically think of the MCU, but inbetween all the superhumans, alien invasions, fighting for the fate of the universe (or multiverse), the MCU has a rich history of fathers who not only guide their own but are willing to help and sacrifice their own lives for others. Some show tough love while others step into their roles at full throttle.
To celebrate Father’s Day and the upcoming release of Secret Invasion (starring the daddiest of them all), The Koalition takes a look at the MCU’s best fathers while diving into what makes them so special.
We love you 3,000. Imagine a world without Tony Stark, the billionaire, industrialist, genius inventor, and playboy CEO of Stark Industries. He’s not just the man behind Iron Man, he is the leader of one of the most powerful groups in the MCU. Despite his arrogance, he has a heart of gold that made him perfect for becoming a leader. While his own relationship with his father was rocky, he was able to find peace when he traveled back in time and met him. When we first met Tony, he wouldn’t consider himself a family man and yet he was always compassionate towards them.
There was Harley Keener from Iron Man 3, who helped Tony stay grounded when he was literally grounded by PTSD. He opened up to Harley and watched over him, dispensing advice along the way. Then there was Peter Parker, a kid from Queens who admired Tony Stark from afar. He not only took him under his wing but became his mentor, gave him his tech and helped him to become the Spider-Man he is today (even if no one remembers who he is). When Peter was blipped away in Infinity War, you could feel Tony’s heart break when Peter stated, “Mr. Stark? I don’t feel so good…” He held him in his arms and watched him fade away, unable to do anything to help him at that moment.
Maybe it was the love he had for Harley and Peter, but he finally expresses a desire to have children of his own, and eventually welcomes a daughter in Morgan. He loves her unconditionally, even becoming a stay-at-home father to raise her. Determined not to become his father, he broke the cycle of bad parenting. If he hadn’t become a father to Peter, Harley and Morgan, the fate of the world might have been different. The most selfish thing he ever did was give up his life so that others could have theirs back. Even though he’s gone, his legacy continues with those who he helped along the way — the surviving members of the Avengers, Harley, Peter and Morgan
Not all father-son relationships start out on the right foot, but they have the potential to grow and learn from each other; forming a bond that even Mary Poppins would be proud of. Technically, Yondu kidnapped Peter Quill for Ego (Peter’s biological father) and their relationship was rocky at times, but over the years, Yondu and Peter’s relationship grew into special. Yondu even celebrated Christmas for Peter, gifting him a pair of blasters which now serve as his primary weapons. Yondu While he taught him to lie, cheat and steal, Yondu loved Peter like a son and did his best to protect him. Yondu taught Peter about survival and when Peter needed him the most, he was there for him.
More importantly, without Yondu’s guidance, Peter wouldn’t be the leader he is today. Yondu’s first family is the Ravagers and, as their leader and father figure of them, he showed Peter the value of collaboration and teamwork. Even though they were a family of thieves, Peter, under his father’s wing, learned about teamwork, how to navigate the galaxy, which became useful during Peter’s adventures with the Guardians of the Galaxy. To successfully navigate the galaxy as outlaws, Ravagers need to work together. Peter used teamwork in his budding partnership with his fellow guardians.
It doesn’t stop there. In Marvel’s What If? Yondu accidentally kidnaps T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) from Earth as a child instead of Peter Quill. Their relationship is just as beautiful as his and Peter’s, which proves Yondu was always meant to be a loving, untraditional father.
Who is T’Challa without his father, King T’Chaka, the man he longed to be? Strong, wise, noble King T’Chaka was ruler of Wakanda and the Black Panther. While T’Challa and his father had different ideas about being a leader, T’Chaka molded his son to be a powerful leader and protector. T’Challa often looked for his guidance and wisdom. Even though Tchalla’s fate was unfortunate, T’Challa would become the man and leader his father would be proud of.
T’Challa always kept his father’s memory alive and, during Infinity War, T’Chaka used those leadership skills to battle to save the universe against Thanos. Even if he had to stand in his own truth by himself, like opening the borders of Wakanda and going after the Avengers for their actions after the events in Avengers: Age of Ultron. T’Chaka was not perfect, and his secrets changed the course of history for some. He still bestowed his knowledge on his children, T’Challa and Shuri. Those life lessons are how they both conduct their lives and how they lead others. Despite their struggles, T’Challa would be proud that both his children accepted the role of Black Panther and led with compassion, respect and understanding of other cultures.
The one word that comes up the most when you think of a “father” is “protector” and Wenwu is the embodiment of this. Wenu radiated love for his wife and children. Despite his climb to the top in the underworld, his criminal life stopped when he decided to dedicate his life to his family full time. Over the years, because of his family, he grew into a kind, compassionate and thoughtful human being. He loved family time and watching his children grow.
Father of Shang-Chi and Xu Xialing they offered him the ability to just live in the moment. But when this was taken away during one violent act, his grief turned into anger, and he reverted back into the monster he once was. Even though he was flawed, he vowed to protect them, forcing Shang-Chi to become a martial arts master and neglecting his daughter. He still thought it was best this way. He was hurt, but a father’s love can be complicated. While it’s easy to label Wenu a villain, Shang-Chi and Xialing’s love for their father gave them the maturity to see his pain. They later grew to understand him, and they would always know he loved them, and it offered them both forgiveness.
What father is willing to go to the multiverse to rescue his daughter other than Scott Lang? When we were first introduced to Scott, he was a former convicted thief who was struggling to pay child support to his estranged wife for visitation rights to his daughter, Cassie Lang. With the promise of money, he was convinced by Hank Pym to take on the mantle of Ant-Man. While his actions technically were criminal, his goal was always focused on his daughter Cassie. Despite the distance, even as a child, she felt her father’s love. Then came the blip, which separated them for 5 years. But even then, they never lost hope they would be reunited again. In Quantumina, his love grows even stronger as he tries to make up for that lost time. He regrets his past life choice, wants to make amends and everyone knows this. Cassie’s undying love for her father is a reflection of Scott. He never judged her, he’s always supportive and no Kang variant will ever stop this.
We’ve seen fathers with superpowers, fathers with rings (ten of them!) even fathers who can fly. In a world full of gods, monsters and aliens, it’s hard to forget the best dads are the ones with no powers, no intentions of travelling across space and time. Sometimes, they’re just there to listen, make sure you’re doing your chores, provide a homecooked meal and love you unconditionally…even if you sneak out of the house to attend MarvelCon. Yusuf Khan, the father of Aamir Khan and Kamala Khan in Ms. Marvel, wanted to provide the best for his children. Full of love and Hostess fruit pies, he supports and encourages them to do what makes them happy…even if it might inconvenience him. As an immigrant, Yusuf knows what it’s like to struggle, making the long journey to America, he makes sure his children never forget their roots; something that Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel) holds onto. Just like Yusuf, family means everything to Kamala. It’s not just her identity, it gives her a sense of pride and knowing her father is there to support her, keeps her mission going.
When you think of fathers, a raccoon doesn’t immediately come to mind. However, there is one raccoon who is above the rest. While he never intended to be a father, fatherhood was bestowed upon him via a tree named Groot. Part cyborg, Rocket Raccoon’s backstory is one of tragedy and horror. While this could have turned any person or animal into a cruel villain, instead, he showed compassion and care to a group of misfits who guarded the galaxy. More like a cranky old dad, he looked after both versions of Groot as if he was his own. When Baby Groot sprouted, he stepped in to raise him, teach him his ways and firm lifelong bond. This couldn’t have been more evident during the snap when teenage Groot’s last word before fading away was “dad.” Despite his teenage moodiness, being sassy and delivering side-eyes, he still loves his family and knows Rocket loves him.
The Dads of Secret Invasion
In Marvel Studios’ new, original, live-action series Secret Invasion, set in the present day MCU, Nick Fury learns of a clandestine invasion of Earth by a faction of shapeshifting Skrulls. Fury joins his allies, including Maria Hill and the Skrull Talos, who has made a life for himself on Earth, and together they race against time to thwart the imminent Skrull invasion and save humanity.
“Who Do You Trust?” asked the tagline in the “Secret Invasion comic books, a limited series of eight issues published in 2008 and written by Brian Michael Bendis. Who do you trust when the person standing in front of you is not a superhero or your best friend or colleague you’ve known for years, but actually a green alien called a Skrull with the ability to shape-shift into anyone they choose?
And who do the Skrulls trust when they’ve lost their home and their planet, and the man they’ve placed their trust in for years—who promised to find them a new homeland—lets them down?
Secret Invasion is a story and family, complicated relationships and the connections with each other and humans. This a series riddled with actual fathers and father figures. G’iah (Emilia Clarke) and her estranged father Talos, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and his surrogate son, Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir). But unlike other MCU movies and TV shows, it asks how do you build a relationship when you don’t know who can be trusted?
Talos has been through some things, and it has shaped him into the Skrull he is today: a fierce, loyal Skrull who cares deeply about his people and his family. Talos, a celebrated Skrull warrior, struggles with what it means to be a leader as he finds himself at odds with those closest to him, including his friend, Nick Fury. When we get to Secret Invasion, Nick Fury was AWOL. After Thanos blipped half the universe, Fury headed back to his space station. Meanwhile, Talos still has the problem that he had: he has to find somewhere for his people to be able to survive, let alone thrive. But his most powerful working relationship is gone. Nick Fury’s gone. He doesn’t have the alliance and the advantage of having Fury on the ground with him on Earth.
As a leader, a Skrull refugee, and father, who just wants to see his people and family thrive after the Kree Empire forced them to flee the only home they’ve ever known, he is willing to continue that fight to protect his family and fellow Kree no matter what. As explored in Secret Invasion, Talos and his young daughter G’iah have a strong bond at first. After searching for a livable planet, he settles on Earth, where he blends in with others but is always cautious. While adapting to human life on Earth isn’t easy and he struggles with socializing with others, his charm and humor are his key to survival.
Unfortunately, as time goes on, Talos and G’iah’s relationship in Secret Invasion has shifted for the worse. G’iah is estranged from her. Talos, blames the death of her mother on him and, instead of explaining each other’s viewpoints, she has become bitter. Despite all of this, she is still able to see the kindness in others and return that kindness; always leaning towards the side of morality. Secret Invasion will continue to put Talos and G’iah’s father-daughter relationship through different trials and tribulations, but all hope is not lost. There is still time to rebuild and repair their relationship. They have more in common than they know.
Man, best friend and superhero, James Rhodes is a man of many with many hats. Not only was he Tony Stark’s best friend, he was also his support system, his confidant and a father figure to Tony after he lost Howard Stark. Refusing to turn against each other, they were each other’s support system no matter what. When Tony had thought his life was about to end in Iron Man 2, Tony created a plan to make Rhodey take on the mantle without even telling him. They trusted each other with their secrets and often Rhodey would pass along fatherly advice. They never left each other’s side, even when Tony battled PTSD and during Rhodey’s injury. Their relationship is how War Machine came to be, as Tony trusted his friend with the responsibility of the Iron Man armor when the government wanted to acquire it.
In Secret Invasion, it is Colonel James Rhodes, who must make some tough calls when he learns of an impending Skrull invasion. It is with this show, viewers get to see Rhodes through different lenses, examining all different sides to the characters, digging into who they are. In this series in particular, there are themes explored, who should we consider “other,” where do they belong, who gets to call this place home and the effect of promises broken to a species that is trying to find its place in the world. How will Rhodes be tested as a leader and who will this father figure become when he’s faced with this task?
How do you describe a man like Nick Fury? How do you celebrate someone who started it all? Who has given so much to others without asking much for himself? Without him, the world (many worlds) would be in shambles. This is a man who thought the impossible: bringing together a group of people with different skillsets, backgrounds and viewpoints to see if they could become protectors. It could be the biggest disaster ever, or it could be his best creation ever. He is not just a father to many; he is the embodiment of a leader and mentor. Despite his ruff exterior and his ability to lurk undetected in the shadows, this S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, creator of The Avengers, is a father to so many he helped along the way. He gave advice but never pushed, he even accepted people to join the team even after they tried to destroy them.
But who exactly is Nick Fury?
Secret Invasion reveals a side of Nick Fury audiences have never seen before. Gone is the black leather coat and the leather eye patch and the character we have known and grown to love over all these years. When we first encounter Nick Fury stepping off the spaceship, he is almost unrecognizable in tweed coat and woolly sweater, his scarred eye visible for all the world to behold.
Fury’s physical transformation is a reflection of his state of mind—Nick Fury is tired. After spending years on S.A.B.E.R. it’s been a while since he’s been in touch with people. He’s ghosted a lot of people, and so when they call him, he’s not coming back down to Earth super willingly.
Not only has he been in hiding, he’s also vulnerable, a man exhausted with continually fighting, he’s lost his way. A lot has happened since the blip happened, time has passed, and it’s warped his physical state. He’s full of human flaws and the sort of mistakes he’s made, and the price that those mistakes cost him and the people around him. There’s a more human and grounded side of what you would imagine Nick Fury to be at this point of his life, where all of these things that he has experienced have caught up with him. Unlike other’s he doesn’t have superpowers. His superpower is his brain, and he uses that as a detective and a spy in a very realistic way.
In Secret Invasion we again encounter the Skrulls—only this time hiding out on Earth and wearing their human ‘shells’ in order to remain invisible to their unwitting human hosts. But all is not well within the Skrull community, and it is up to Nick Fury to save the day, but this time without the support of his Avenger friends. The Skrulls have been working for Fury for years on the promise that he will help them find a home world either in outer space or on Earth, with the idea that humans and Skrulls can someday live together. Neither of those things have happened. So, Fury at the start of the show is conflicted because he hasn’t followed through on his promise to help those Skrulls find a homeland.
That’s a deeply conflicted place for Nick Fury to be and a cool place for that character to go. He manipulates people to his own ends and has been doing so for decades in order to rise to the top of the intelligence community. But he also loved the Skrulls and yet hasn’t helped them. And we’ll learn along the way what’s been keeping him from following through on that promise.”
The questions remain: Does Talos still trust Fury to protect his people? Have the rebel Skrulls lost faith and trust? Does Fury still trust the Skrulls whom he tried to save by bringing them to Earth? The answer, put simply: No one trusts anyone in Marvel Studios’ Secret Invasion.