Maria Hill, escaping an exploding helicarrier with a jetpack.
Art by Leinil Francis Yu.
|First appearance||New Avengers #4 (March 2005)|
Brian Michael Bendis (writer)|
David Finch (artist)
|Alter ego||Maria Hill|
Commander Maria Hill is a fictional character appearing in books published by Marvel Comics. As the former director of the planetary defense/intelligence service S.H.I.E.L.D., she appears in various storylines which often feature the Avengers or members of that group. She was featured in the late 2000s Civil War and Secret Invasion miniseries, and the monthly Iron Man series, in which she was a prominent supporting character during the "Dark Reign" and "Stark Disassembled" storylines.
Joe Quesada, who was Marvel's editor-in-chief during her first appearance, describes the character thus: "[Hill] is such a strong personality, she's like a force of nature and quite frankly, while perhaps not immediately loved by all involved, she's certainly as strong and imposing a figure as Nick Fury. Right now I feel that people view her as the outsider but [while] I don't think she's any harsher than Fury has ever been, what's different is that we aren't quite clear about her motives."
Maria Hill appeared as a supporting character in the 2010–2013 Avengers series, from issue #1 (July 2010) through its final issue, #34 (January 2013), but only appeared sporadically after the first half of its run.
Fictional character biography
Hill was born in Chicago to a father who never failed to make clear to her his resentment of her survival and her mother's death in childbirth. Upon reaching adulthood, Hill first joins the United States armed forces and later becomes an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Hill has a brief stint in Madripoor that gets her noticed by various heads of state and government around the world.
After the scandalous affair of the Secret War and its disastrous effect on New York City, S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury goes into hiding. Maria Hill, viewed by the leaders of several nations as being both an efficient agent and, more importantly in their eyes, not directly loyal to Fury or any of his personal cadre, is appointed interim Executive Director. For a time, a Life Model Decoy of Fury is regularly used in public to maintain an illusion of normalcy within the Directorate's ranks. Hill is expected to be loyal to United States interests before those of the United Nations, which S.H.I.E.L.D. is supposed to serve before any other country. After she is named Director, Hill is confronted by Nick Fury one night. He warns her that if she ever sees anything suspicious to use an LMD, referencing the coming Secret Invasion. He also warns her that if she does anything that he feels is wrong, then he will kill her.
Hill quickly establishes new policies on super-powered heroes, as requested by the President of the United States and his peers in other national governments: to end S.H.I.E.L.D. support for the heroes. These policies are in full effect when Hill tries to prevent the Avengers from re-forming following the breakout at the super-villain prison the Raft. However, Captain America's champion status allows him to form any team he wants for any mission he sees fit, while Spider-Woman's status as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent gives her access to any files that the Avengers may require. With these two situations meaning that the Avengers could operate independent of Hill's authority while retaining access to the relevant information they need to complete their mission of tracking down the Raft escapees, Hill is convinced to leave the situation alone.
In the wake of events in the Savage Land the Avengers suspect Hill of being complicit in various crimes, but lack the evidence to prove her malfeasance. For her part, Hill has suspected the latest incarnation of the Avengers of harboring an illicit agenda in connection with, among other things, the "House of M" affair, to the point that she abducted Spider-Man and the Vision to question them about the situation even when dealing with the Collective.
In the 2006–2007 miniseries Civil War, Captain America refuses to assist Commander Hill in preparations to arrest any superheroes who refuses to comply with the Superhuman Registration Act, seeing such activity as politically motivated, but Hill, arguing that Captain America must obey the will of the American people, attempts to arrest him. Captain America fights his way out of the Helicarrier and escapes. After the Act passes into law, Hill is one of its leading enforcers. She blackmails Wonder Man into actively supporting S.H.I.E.L.D.'s crusade to hunt down the superheroes opposed to the Registration Act. She sends Kree supersoldier Noh-Varr, already brainwashed, to capture the Runaways. She directs the Thunderbolts to capture Spider-Man after he goes rogue. The two Thunderbolts members sent out, Jester and Jack O'Lantern, are slain by the Punisher. After foiling an attack on Stark Tower, Hill admits to Tony Stark that she does not want her job as director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and thinks she should not have been offered it in the first place. She suggests that the only other person besides Nick Fury who should lead the organization is Stark himself. At the conclusion of the Civil War, the President of the United States appoints Tony Stark the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D., with a displeased Maria Hill his acting deputy director.
After being made Deputy Director, Maria Hill becomes a core member of Stark's S.H.I.E.L.D. cabinet and assists Stark in dealing with a sudden rise in various terrorist groups who have gained access to hyper-advanced biological weapons. Unlike the rest of the cabinet (including Sal Kennedy, whom she loathed personally), Hill remains skeptical of a single conspiracy behind all these attacks. When the Mandarin's neoplastic tumor began infecting the Helicarrier, Hill organizes the evacuation; she (wrongly) believed the infection is the main objective of the attack. Subsequently, however, Hill becomes much more trusting in Stark's leadership, a trusted agent in her role as Deputy Director, and far less bound by conventional process, particularly after a confrontation with Dum Dum Dugan, in which he forces her to confront the fact that she was apparently willing to take actions that would allow innocent people to die while still sticking to "the book" because the alternative was to disobey orders. She eventually risks her career by locking down the United Nations under S.H.I.E.L.D. martial law so Stark can escape a tribunal going against him and track down the Mandarin.
2008 – 2010 storylines
During the 2008 "Secret Invasion" storyline, after the Helicarrier is disabled by Skrull invaders, Hill, who is left in charge in Stark's absence, confronts a number of extraterrestrial Skrulls, shapeshifters who can assume the appearance of anyone or anything, who are revealed to have replaced Edwin Jarvis and a number of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. The Skrulls execute Hill, but this "Hill" is revealed to be a Life Model Decoy of Hill. Hill then activates the Helicarrier's self-destruct system, killing all the Skrull infiltrators on board, escaping via jet pack.
In the aftermath of the Skrull Invasion's failure, during the "Dark Reign" storyline, S.H.I.E.L.D is disbanded by the President, and Hill and Tony Stark lose their jobs, replaced by the newly appointed director Norman Osborn who then reforms the fallen S.H.I.E.L.D. into H.A.M.M.E.R. In the Iron Man monthly series, Hill tries to go about having a normal life but Osborn dispatches H.A.M.M.E.R. to arrest her for theft. She joins her former boss, Tony Stark, as a fugitive after he stole the Superhuman Registration Database. The night before Tony leaves the two finally give in to the sexual tension that had been brewing for some time. Hill is sent on a mission by Tony to retrieve a hard drive. Hill finds the Controller holed up in the basement of Futurepharm, hooked into a large machine holding many people in containers. She barely manages to escape him, before downloading the data Tony sent her for. The skirmish with the Controller would leave her in a state of paranoia for a while. She then enlists the Black Widow to deliver the data to Captain America, all the while evading H.A.M.M.E.R. agents. However, they are captured when H.A.M.M.E.R. intercepts an e-mail from Stark. They are rescued by Pepper Potts, disguised as Madame Masque.
During the 2010 "Siege" storyline, Hill comes to the aid of Thor after Osborn launches an attack on him and his home of Asgard. Hill becomes a supporting cast member in the Iron Man series, protecting him and his friends from multiple threats. In the 2010 "Heroic Age" storyline, which followed "Siege", Hill is appointed by Captain Steve Rogers to work with a new team of Avengers.
2010 to the present
Following the apparent death of Nick Fury, she was appointed commander, then acting director, and finally director of S.H.I.E.L.D. following Daisy Johnson's actions that involved the Secret Avengers invading A.I.M. Island.
During the Avengers: Standoff! storyline, Maria Hill and S.H.I.E.L.D. have established the gated community of Pleasant Hill to serve as the most unlikeliest of supervillain prisons. While working at Pleasant Hill, Maria Hill operates as the Mayor of Pleasant Hills. A training video for the S.H.I.E.L.D. cadets working there showed that she and the S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists have used reality-warping technology derived from the Cosmic Cube called "Kobik" as a demonstration was used where Graviton is turned into a mild-mannered Pleasant Hill chef named Howie Howardson. When Commander Steve Rogers is brought before Maria Hill, he tells her of his knowledge that the Kobik project was not disposed of. Maria Hill presented the inhabitants of Pleasant Hill to Steve Rogers: she mentions that the citizens are reformed supervillains. When Steve Rogers demanded to know where were the fragments of Cosmic Cubes used for Kobik, she directed him to the eerie little girl who was the fragments of the Cosmic Cube that have taken the form of a near-omnipotent child.
Following the Civil War II storyline, Maria Hill was later seen being kidnapped by Diablo, who attempted to extract the security code clearances for all the active helicarriers and the Triskelion, when she was rescued by Victor Von Doom.
In the world of the MC2 universe, Maria Hill is a member of the National Security Force. When a government assignment went awry a piece of the Carnage symbiote was released. The Symbiote was stopped by Spider-Girl, the daughter of Spider-Man, as she later reported the success to that world's Nick Fury.
In the Ultimate Marvel universe, Maria Hill is an ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent and a homicide detective currently working for the NYPD. She first appears while questioning Miles Morales about the death of Aaron Davis. This investigation led to the discovery that Spider-Man wasn't the killer as the press believed and that Aaron Davis had an accidental death when one of his weapons backfired.
She is the one working on the Venom case that involved a home invasion into Miles Morales' house and hurt his father. She notices that Gwen Stacy, Mary Jane Watson, Ganke, and Miles quickly went into his home. She illegally barges in, but is coy with the kids, only to be thwarted by Gwen's knowledge of law due to her deceased father, and Mary Jane recording her on her tablet. Maria definitely suspects Miles as Spider-Man. Suddenly, there is word that Venom is attacking the hospital where Miles father and mother are at. Maria yells at Miles telling him to save the citizens at the hospital. Miles scales the light post and buildings in front of Maria confirming that he is Spider-Man.
In other media
- Maria Hill appears in the animated series Iron Man: Armored Adventures, voiced by Tabitha St. Germain in a Russian accent.
- Maria Hill is featured in the animated series The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, voiced by Kari Wührer. She appears as a central member of S.H.I.E.L.D., who becomes the new director after the sudden disappearance of Nick Fury.
- Maria Hill appears in the pilot episode of the ABC series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) portrayed by Cobie Smulders (who reprises her role from The Avengers). Smulders also appears in the episode "Nothing Personal" (which takes place after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier). In "The Dirty Half Dozen", revealed to still be an acting S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Maria receives information of Baron Strucker's location from Phil Coulson and relays that information to the Avengers.
- Maria Hill appears in several episodes of Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers, voiced by Akeno Watanabe.
- Maria Hill appears in Avengers Assemble. In a nonspeaking cameo around the end of the episode titled "The Final Showdown," Maria Hill was seen with Black Widow and Nick Fury trying to look for the dimension where Red Skull and the Tesseract disappeared to.
- Cobie Smulders plays Maria Hill in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, appearing in The Avengers (2012), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), and in various episodes of the TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
- Smulders will reprise her role in Avengers: Infinity War.
- Maria Hill appears in the 2013 anime film Iron Man: Rise of Technovore, voiced by Kari Wahlgren in the English dub.
- Maria Hill appears in the 2014 anime film Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher voiced by Junko Minagawa in the Japanese version and reprised by Kari Wahlgren in the English dub.
- Maria Hill appears as an NPC in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, voiced by Margaret Easley.
- Maria Hill appears as a non-playable character in the Facebook game Marvel: Avengers Alliance. She accompanied Nick Fury and Tony Stark in mission briefings.
- Maria Hill appears in Marvel Heroes voiced by Kari Wührer.
- Maria Hill appears as an unlockable playable character in Lego Marvel Super Heroes, voiced by Danielle Nicolet.
- Maria Hill appears as an unlockable playable character in Lego Marvel's Avengers, with Cobie Smulders reprising the role.
- Maria Hill is a non-playable character in Marvel: Avengers Alliance Tactics.
- Maria Hill appears in the Marvel Universe: LIVE! stage show.
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