Based on one of Marvel's popular comic runs, Secret Invasion is a MCU game changer that is as intense as it is thrilling. With its methodical pacing and unexpected twists, this show will keep fans guessing up until the very last second.
Secret Invasion Review
When we last saw Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) he was up in space building a high-tech headquarters for S.A.B.E.R.. But when concerning developments occur amongst the Skrulls, he is called back to Earth by his trusted number 2 Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and his Skull friend Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). Talos reveals that Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir) is fed up with Fury's empty promises of finding his people a home and has decided to take over Earth instead by infiltrating the planet's most powerful organizations. As Gravik plots to destroy the world, it's a cold-war era race against time to stop him.
Secret Invasion takes its cues from the Captain America: The Winter Soldier side of the MCU. It's a gritty world of spies and political games where trust is a rare commodity. The twists and double-crosses keep everyone guessing as to what is actually happening and to whom. No one is safe and nothing is as it seems. This show expertly lays the groundwork for the paranoia and second-guessing that comes with this genre, building upon it in each episode. With its methodical pacing this show aims to keep everyone guessing up until the very last second. It is a satisfying slow burn that sees the architect of the Avengers take center stage for the first time.
No one can argue Jacksons' Nicky Fury has always been a main character. His presence alone, even if it is only a post credit scene, is enough to have fans talking excitedly about what it could mean for the Avengers and beyond. He's just the rare lead who doesn't really ever get the chance to lead and is instead standing on the sidelines orchestrating the others. So it is about time that Fury finally steps out of the shadows and into the limelight. Despite being a staple for over 15 years there is still very little we know about Fury, fortunately Secret Invasion is out to change that. The mastermind behind the Avengers Initiative who is always three steps ahead of everyone around him is back on Earth and Jackson is more than up for the task of digging deeper into the spymaster's secrets.
Fury's superpower has always been his brain power. He doesn't shape-shift or sling webs but he strategizes in an ultimate game of chess where the winner sees the universe safe from the likes of Thanos. However, Thanos did win and Fury along with Hill and many others were snapped out of existence. The MCU has already begun revealing the repercussions of the Snap both for those who were blipped and those who remained. WandaVision showed Monica dealing with the death of her mother after she reappears in an empty hospital room while Falcon and the Winter Soldier focused on the people who remained suddenly displaced by those that returned. Fury himself was not immune to the mental strain caused by the cataclysmic event. As many characters point out from Hill to James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle), Fury is not the same man he was. There is a sense he has been using his time in space to hide from his responsibilities and avoid dealing with the broken parts of himself. Although his friends are ever loyal to him, the strain caused by his abandonment is simmering just below the surface threatening to boil over.
It's been almost 30 years since Fury (and Carol Danvers) promised to help the Skrulls find a new home. Some are fed up with waiting and that's where Secret Invasion's story comes into play – a cold war between humans and the alien Skrulls. Under Ali Selim direction, the show is firmly grounded and stylized like a classic conspiracy thriller, taking notes from the Winter Soldier and expanding it. This series may feature aliens but everything feels gritty and real. Kyle Bradstreet's script plays well in the sandbox thanks to its unexpected twists, a gripping pace, and deception that lurks around every corner. The opening of the first episode reminds the audience just a few heart-pounding minutes that no one can be trusted. What the creative team has done here is incredible. They have made it so that even the most diehard MCU and comic fans will find themselves second-guessing everything they thought they knew about the story and the characters. As one of those super fans I find that all captivating.
Before you even meet the face of the Skrull Rebellion, the show has made you suspicious of everyone on-screen. It makes the threat credible without any extra pushing needed. Ben-Adir's Gravik is a brilliant addition to the MCU's baddie list. He is as ruthless as he is cold, showing very little in terms of an emotional response at all aside from a seething rage. All told every time he enters a scene he is unnerving in the best way possible. Opposite him is Emilia Clarke's G'iah, Talos' daughter first seen in Captain Marvel. She is pro-Skrull but not exactly in alignment with Gravik's more extreme ways. She equally isn't on her father's side either. Clarke brings a vulnerability and fierceness to the role, something that should come as a surprise to no one. Her scenes with Mendelsohn are sincere and raw, just one of the emotional throughlines of the series. Olivia Colman's Special Agent Sonya Falsworth is the immediate standout of the newcomers. Sonya's delightful attitude even as she tortures someone is fun to watch. She clearly has ulterior motives but who doesn't? When you're a slick and entertaining wildcard who cares what you're up to?
Mendelsohn is absolutely amazing as Talos and after the brief glimpses of him in Far From Home it's nice to have him back. He and Jackson have a brotherly bond and it's easy to see why these two care a lot about one another. Secret Invasion is as much Talos' story as it is Fury, with their friendship and Talos' love for his people the beating heart of the entire show. Also returning from the MCU is Cheadle's Rhodey who now acts as a liaison to the U.S. President (Dermot Mulroney). This puts him at odds with Fury and we see a Rhodey more in line with how he behaves in Captain America Civil War. Will their friendship overcome any political obligations? Only time will tell. Or maybe Rhodey is a Skrull and the real one would never be at odds with Fury. See? I'm paranoid.
For comic fans, Secret Invasion is a well known run that sees the Avengers facing the threat of the Skrull Invasion. This show was never intended to be an Avengers-led spectacle and that is perfectly fine. The execution here conveys the same stakes and makes them more meaningful since the superheroes are nowhere to be seen (except Rhodey of course). These are normal humans and some Skrull allies trying to stop an all out war where no one is a winner. For those looking for the comic nods and easter eggs, they are there including how Fury cleverly addresses why he won't call in his “friends” to help.
Ultimately, Secret Invasion is a gritty, espionage thriller that aims to keep everyone guessing until the very last second of its finale. It teases a more in-depth look into a man we know but don't really know at all. Fury has never played the same kind of role twice, so time will tell if this is the real him or just another face he wears. It is an exciting and captivating return to the street-level stories of the MCU that is sure to be as game changing as The Winter Soldier.
Secret Invasion episode 1 premieres June 21 on Disney+. Subsequent episodes will be released weekly.