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  • Writer's pictureAntal Bokor

Marvel’s First Episode of Secret Invasion Was Gloomy, Loquacious

It feels like Kevin Feige has been building towards this series since way back in Phase 3 with Captain Marvel–or earlier, if there were clues that eagle-eyed Marvel fans uncovered in the earlier films. Secret Invasion is a fertile soil for a type of story that Marvel hasn’t told before. I mean, we’ve had human terrorists before, but alien terrorists?

Secret Invasion is potentially a story where you don’t know who to trust. Characters–even long standing ones–could be revealed to be Skrull (Marvel’s shape changing aliens). The Skrull are faster, stronger, and longer lived than humans, making them a potentially scary foe–if they all didn’t look like they were wearing rubber masks in their original state.

Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury in Marvel Studios' Secret Invasion, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 MARVEL.

While the first episode is spent establishing all of the players, and positioning all of the pieces, it also serves as a bit of “previously on” but more of a “what are they doing now?” That is to say, if you haven’t watched a significant amount of the MCU catalog, you’ll probably be confused.

Secret Invasion is a show about Nick Fury and his unfinished business with the Skrull. Gravik, a bad Skrull, has created what is essentially a Skrull terrorist network with the goal of eliminating every human on earth. When Sam Jackson’s Nick Fury hears of this plot, he merely utters “shit.”

Kingsley Ben-Adir as Rebel Skrull leader Gravik in Marvel Studios' Secret Invasion, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 MARVEL.

MCU dialogue is always effortlessly delivered by Sam Jackson. He carries the show, but he also exudes an aura of “I'm done with this shit” - fitting, as he’s playing a Nick Fury who is also done with this shit.

However, Secret Invasion plays a little too seriously. The first episode was a rather gloomy affair, with muted colors that reinforce just how serious this all is. And there are some implications for the characters as well, as we see Talos – played by Ben Mendelsohn, who is mostly using his human face – wrestling with the implications of essentially betraying his own race. Compound that with the fact that his daughter (played by Emilia Clarke) is working for Gravik and the Skrull bad guys, and perhaps we’ll see a Talos who betrays Fury to help his daughter. But so far, it doesn’t look like Secret Invasion is setting its stakes that high.

Ben Mendelsohn as Talos/Keller in Marvel Studios' Secret Invasion, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 MARVEL.

You can tell Marvel didn’t want to lean too hard into the Secret Invasion’s larger implications right at the beginning with the introduction of Ross (Martin Short) who turned out to be a Skrull agent. It wasn’t clear whether this Ross was a Skrull all along, or a different Ross altogether. It turns out this is a completely fake and separate Ross. Which is even more confusing when they show Gravik’s extremists and how they take a person’s mind as well as their appearance.

There is a fair amount of humor in this episode. During a witty exchange between Fury and Talos, where Talos reveals that he’s “not even 40 in human years.” Despite being a century and a quarter old he continues, “I haven’t even gone on my mid-life crisis shopping spree yet.” Talos goes on to ask Fury “what did you get?” Fury wryly states: “The Avengers.”

Kingsley Ben-Adir as Gravik in Marvel Studios' SECRET INVASION, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Gareth Gatrell. © 2023 MARVEL.

However, Gravik does not seem like an intimidating foe, even when he is set up to be one. There is one clunky and unintentionally funny scene towards the end of the episode where Gravik repeatedly shapeshifts while staring down Fury. It’s a little unsettling until he shifts into his human form, and I couldn’t help thinking about how much of a dork this dude is.

Secret Invasion ends on a rather gloomy note, with Mariah Hill bleeding to death, and a Nick Fury who has seemingly lost a step. However, it was an episode that somehow felt both over packed with information and also very slow–more like a formality than a proper episode. And despite Colbie Smulders’ assertion that she could play Mariah Hill with more depth than she has before, the MCU needs to learn that death isn’t character progression.

We'll see what transpires as we continue into this series. Stay tuned!

Secret Invasion streams Wednesdays on Disney+



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