The first episode of Marvel’s “Secret Invasion” premiered this week on Disney Plus. Nick Fury, played by Samuel Jackson, and Maria Hill, played by Cobie Smulders, take on the “bad” Skrulls. Alien shapeshifters who want to start World War III and claim Earth as their new home. The unexpected cliffhanger ended with the “fridging” of Maria Hill.
If you’re not familiar with “fridging,” it’s a comic book trope. The death of a female character motivates the male character to do something heroic. The first example was Green Lantern finding his murdered girlfriend inside his fridge.
Here are two examples I noticed in recent years.
A new comic book series to commemorate the 90th anniversary of Nancy Drew had her dead from page one. The Hardy Boys took it upon themselves to investigate her murder. Only to discover that she was alive and well, and pissed off that they were stepping on her investigation. Anthony Del Col, the writer, was unaware of fridging as a trope and the backlash took him by surprise.
“Star Trek: Picard” reintroduced a fan favorite character that we haven’t seen for 30 years. Ro Laren played by Michelle Forbes. After hashing out their past conflicts, Ro passes critical information to Picard. And then gets killed in a shuttle explosion. Her death convinced a skeptical Captain Shaw to order the Titan to flee Starfleet at the end of the episode.
We can now add Maria Hill to the recent list of fridged female characters.
Cobie Smulders’s interview with “Variety” confirmed that Maria Hill got fridged.
Her death propelled the story in a much more vulnerable direction for the rest of the characters in the show. It certainly is increasing the stakes and setting up Fury to be in a very emotional state.Variety, 06/23/2023
Please note that “Secret Invasion” is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Maria Hill could still be alive and well after the first episode.
We watched Nick Fury die in the first half and show up alive in the second half of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” It wouldn’t surprise me if Maria Hill pops up alive in the last episode of “Secret Invasion.”
Fridging is often a sign of lazy writing and/or ignorance of comic book tropes. The “Secret Invasion” writers could have found a different way to motivate Nick Fury. Maria Hill pops up everywhere in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but we never got to know her story.