Marvel's Secret Invasion Review: A Promising Concept Hindered by Lackluster Execution

30 July 2023

Secret Invasion marks a significant moment for Samuel L. Jackson (Unbreakable) as he finally gets his own Marvel project after 15 years. The show places Nick Fury firmly in the protagonist role for an espionage adventure that focuses more on human characters than traditional superheroes. At its core, the concept of the Skrulls infiltrating Earth is undeniably fascinating, reminiscent of a blend between Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Winter Soldier, with a touch of Cold War cinema. This Cold War-style thriller takes the MCU in a fresh direction, stepping away from the usual superhero-centric narrative.

The series starts off with a promising premise, where the Skrulls, a shape-shifting alien species, plan to take over Earth by infiltrating human society. However, it quickly becomes apparent that Secret Invasion is not interested in hiding its Skrulls; most of them are introduced in their true forms right from the start. This robs the series of the paranoia and suspense that should have been a hallmark of an espionage thriller. Unlike the gripping uncertainty that made the comic book story a bombshell, the show loses its edge by revealing the Skrulls' true identities so openly.

secret invasion review

Despite the departure from the 2008 Secret Invasion comics, where each issue threatened to expose beloved superheroes as evil aliens, the show's unique approach of focusing on Skrull refugees seeking a home holds promise. Gravik, portrayed with weight and anger by Kingsley Ben-Adir, emerges as the leader of the titular invasion, adding complexity to the Skrulls' motivations. However, the character suffers from being thinly written, and there are similarities between Gravik and other sympathetic terrorists seen in previous Marvel shows like The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.

Samuel L. Jackson's portrayal of Nick Fury remains one of the show's strengths, particularly when exploring his vulnerability after the Blip. In this fractured version of the once fearless hero, we witness a fascinating study on how confronting mortality can shatter one's sense of purpose. However, the series occasionally sidelines his personal struggles for plot-driven elements, diminishing the potential impact of his character arc. A continuing romantic subplot with Fury's estranged wife Priscilla (played by Charlayne Woodard) attempts to keep his vulnerability at the forefront, but unfortunately, the plot often takes precedence over Fury's emotional journey.

The supporting cast delivers solid performances, with Olivia Colman standing out as the charismatic and ruthless MI6 agent Sonya Falsworth. Her ability to deliver ruthless barbs with a sweet smile adds depth to the character and helps balance Secret Invasion's darker tone. Don Cheadle's Rhodey also makes an appearance, but his role feels oddly inconsequential given his position in the plot. Meanwhile, Ben Mendelsohn's return as Talos brings depth to the struggles of living in a foreign skin, representing the millions of Skrulls enduring the wait on Fury's promise. The moments where Talos confronts Fury on the realities of the situation are among the series' best, providing astute observations on how the United States treats refugees and migrants.

In contrast, some characters lack complexity and emotional depth. G'iah, portrayed by Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones, Terminator Genisyis), is set up as a Skrull walking the dangerous knife edge between a peaceful refugee and Gravik's rebel faction. However, her journey lacks challenge or heartache, resulting in a character that feels one-dimensional. Clarke does her best with the material, but G'iah's allegiance pivots without any sense of danger or emotion. This lack of depth extends to other aspects of the show, with the promising foundation failing to be fully developed into genuinely compelling storytelling.

Secret Invasion presents intriguing ideas, especially concerning the Skrull refugees' plight and the consequences of invasion. Strong performances from Samuel L. Jackson and Olivia Colman keep the series afloat, adding authenticity and charisma to the show. However, the lack of complexity and genuine intrigue hampers its potential. 

The series falls short of capturing the excitement and threat expected from its plot, resulting in an underwhelming and often dull espionage thriller. While there are occasional moments of depth and meaning, Secret Invasion fails to fully capitalize on its compelling concepts, leaving audiences with a mixed experience of good intentions and lackluster execution.


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

At The Astromech, you can expect to find a variety of articles, reviews, and analysis related to science fiction, including books, movies, TV, and games.
From exploring the latest news and theories to discussing the classics, I aim to provide entertaining and informative content for all fans of the genre.

Whether you are a die-hard Star Trek fan or simply curious about the world of science fiction, The Astromech has something for everyone. So, sit back, relax, and join me on this journey through the stars!
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