To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Secret Invasion is an espionage psychological thriller miniseries based on the Marvel Comics event of the same name. The show is produced by Kevin Feige with Kyle Bradstreet (Mr. Robot) serving as the head writer and Ali Selim (The Calling) directing. Featuring Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Killian Scott, Samuel Adewunmi, Dermot Mulroney, Martin Freeman, Richard Dormer, Emilia Clarke, Olivia Colman, Don Cheadle, Charlayne Woodard, Christopher McDonald, Cobie Smulders, and Katie Finneran, it is the ninth series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The story follows Nick Fury and Talos as they uncover a secret faction of Skrulls who plan to conquer Earth and make it their permanent home.
In Moscow, Agent Ross (Martin Freeman) meets with Agent Prescod (Richard Dormer) to discuss a connection between seemingly different terrorist attacks across the globe. Prescod believes that the Skrulls are responsible for all of the attacks and are masquerading as different groups to cause chaos so that they can ultimately make Earth their new home. Ross rebuffs him stating that the Skrulls work with Nick Fury and are allies, not enemies. To convince him Prescod gives Ross information about an upcoming attack that will be more devastating than the previous ones. Prescod becomes suspicious of Ross and attacks him. In the ensuing struggle, Prescod is shot and killed by Ross. After leaving the premises Ross contacts Agent Hill (Cobie Smulders) for an extract as he notices he is being followed. He attempts to lose the tail but falls to his death trying to jump from one building to another. The tail is revealed to be Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) in disguise and “Ross” a rogue Skrull imposter.
The MCU television series have been hit or miss for me. WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki were strong, but as more were released the cracks started to show. When I found out that Secret Invasion was being adapted into a series I was very skeptical. This was a major event in the comic and I felt it would have been better served as an Avengers movie or at least a second entry in the Captain Marvel series à la Captain America: Civil War. However, after hearing the directors and writers talk about how they wanted to emulate Captain America: The Winter Soldier (My favorite MCU film) I began to soften on the idea. Today I am sad to say that my initial fears were realized.
The first two episodes of this show are fantastic. Setting up the paranoia and skepticism early on about who is a Skrull and who isn’t. The dialogue in these episodes is also well-written. Whenever Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has a conversation with Rhodes (Don Cheadle) it feels like two well-educated Black men talking not two government officials. The conversations are personal and relatable. These characters have not interacted much in previous MCU entries so here it feels like they have some history outside of world-threatening events.
In his first few appearances, I felt that Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir) would become my second favorite villain after Killmonger. The reasoning behind his plan was sound even if he was going about it the wrong way. He has a tragic backstory and a connection to Fury that felt like the beginnings of a great character arc. Ben-Adir plays the Skrull leader as a very nonchalant and uncaring dictator. Solely focused on completing his goal, he rarely raises his voice and is typically one step ahead of everybody else.
The show tragically starts to fall off after episode 3 “Betrayed.” After this things start to feel rushed like they didn’t want to advance this series to another season which may have worked out better. More characters are killed and motivations become haphazard. If Marvel Studios wasn’t going to make Secret Invasion a movie then it would make sense to expand a story of this magnitude across multiple seasons. The lack of major Skrull reveals was also disappointing. Out of all the characters we have seen over the years only two major players are revealed to have been replaced and we are not even sure for how long. This shows how disconnected all of the writer’s rooms are from each other as there should be some semblance of a throughline with these series.
The most positive thing I can say about this series is the introduction of Sonya Falsworth (Olivia Colman). Colman is a delight and plays Fury’s British counterpart with all the spunkiness and pizzazz you’d expect from the actress. It would be great to see Falsworth appear in future MCU projects and I’d personally like to see her interact with Contessa Valentina de Fontaine.
Although the first few episodes were strong, unfortunately, this series did not stick the superhero landing. I give Secret Invasion a Poor 2.9/5. It would be interesting to see if they move forward with a second season as the show does end on something of a cliffhanger, but like with many things in these recent phases, it may lead to nowhere.