Given certain box office results recently, on both the Marvel and DC Comics side of things, the notion of “superhero fatigue” has been widely floated around. But a good counter to that is simply, “It’s not fatigue. It’s bad storytelling.” And that does seem to hold true on both sides of the equation. People want more from their superhero stories, not the same tales but with slightly different twists. Across The Spider-Verse and GOTG Vol.3 proves that as both were successful at the box office. But as our Secret Invasion Review will reveal, the MCU’s latest tale won’t be amongst those bright lights in a dark cloud of mediocrity.
The hype for this series before its arrival was solid as it was based on one of the most influential comic events of the modern era. “Secret Invasion” in the comics made you question everything and everyone to demand that you ask, “Who Can You Trust?” As we would find out, fewer than we would like. But in the TV series? It’s no one you cared about, and the ones you did care about were the obvious picks.
In this version of the story, terrorist attacks around the world are making people antsy, and one person finds out that it’s the Skrulls behind it, and that’s when we get our first “shocking” reveal that Everett Ross was a Skrull (more on that later). That gets Maria Hill and Telos to bring back Nick Fury to take on a Skrull rebel leader named Gravik, who wants nothing more than to wipe out humanity so that the Skrulls can take over the planet. On the surface, it seems like a standard MCU plot, and that’s the problem right out of the gate.
We already know that Gravik’s plan won’t work, and so it is up to the show to make it compelling right up until the moment it fails, but they don’t do that…at all. And the “Who Can You Trust?” element is thrown out the window very quickly as “key reveals” are either obvious, dumb, or pointless.
For example, we find out that the “Skrull Council” have taken over the roles of prominent members of government, including people in the UK, NATO and US television. That would be impactful…if we all didn’t know they were going to die within a few episodes (and most of them do), and the impact we DO see with them in their “states of power” is negligible at best.
I’ll deal with Gravik in a bit, but needless to say, the entire plot of Secret Invasion from start to finish was subpar at the best of times and mind-numbing during the rest, and that includes the portrayal of its leading man…
Yep, I speak of the one and only Nick Fury, who, despite his role in the MCU since literal Day 1, is only NOW getting his first leading role…and it was terrible. Oh, and I don’t just mean his arc in the show. I mean his portrayal and even his acting by Samuel L. Jackson. And that really hurts to say.
My biggest issue by far is that this whole series tried to beat into our heads that “Nick Fury is washed up since the Blip.” …say what, now? We’ve known from MCU films that you can get things past Nick Fury, such as with the Hydra insurrection in Winter Soldier and Agents of Shield (which is still canon…right? Or is it not now? I honestly can’t remember.) The difference with that plot was that we got to SEE the wheels put in motion, and then the reveals nearly cost Fury everything. And even then, he outsmarted everyone in the end by being Nick Freaking Fury.
But from episode one, just about everyone that mattered kept saying that “Nick is old,” or that “he hasn’t been the same since The Blip,” and so on and so forth without giving us any PROOF of why they feel that way. Remember, the last time we canonically saw Fury was at the end of Far From Home when he was on the ship with the Skrulls, and he seemed VERY happy then. Yet according to Fury himself, he had a “crisis of faith” on Earth…and then in space…and yet we don’t hear why or what that was. We’re just supposed to accept it.
No. We’re not going to accept it because it doesn’t make sense! In the writing trade, there’s a line called “show, don’t tell.” And if Fury kept repeatedly failing in this series and we SEE how far he had fallen and somehow had to bounce back, that would’ve meant something, but that didn’t happen.
Just as bad, in various scenes throughout the six-part series, Samuel L. Jackson acted a lot more like his more comedic roles than the man who assembled the Avengers and was always cool under pressure. He literally said, “Help a brother out” multiple times, and I’m like, “When has Fury ever said something like that before?” Yes, he has had comedic lines, but there were parts where he was basically yelling at people for no good reason, and then despite doing some really cool lines…he would go and look defeated right after.
You’re Nick Fury. Act like it, dang it! But this show wanted to do the opposite, apparently, and the show suffered for it.
And just as bad, in a key scene with Telos (who I’m about to get to,) the Skrull reveals that the only reason that Fury got as high as he did in the spy world…was because he had a literal army of Skrull infiltrators doing his wetwork. That’s…just not right on any level. Him having that team? Yeah, totally a Fury thing. Is that the ONLY reason he elevated himself in the MCU? Nope. Just…nope.
Another section of things I really don’t want to talk about in my Secret Invasion Review is the supporting cast. Why? They didn’t add much, and the ones that were meant to “shock people” were just…there at times.
Case in point. Maria Hill was one of the more fun parts of the MCU. She even cameoed in Agents of Shield multiple times and had great relationships with some of the Avengers. But then, in Secret Invasion, she’s brought in for one episode…is used to harp on Nick Fury “losing a step,”… and then dies at the end of episode 1. Why do that to her character? She could’ve helped the show so much more if she was alive. But instead, she was a “forced casualty” to try and “hurt Nick Fury.” What a waste.
That brings us to Telos, who also hasn’t been seen since he was impersonating Nick Fury during Far From Home. His being used to show the Skrulls weren’t evil (yet) in the MCU was a nice twist, but then, in Secret Invasion…he comes off…so dang weird. At times I honestly couldn’t even hear what he was saying as he went REALLY heavy with his accent. And then, he was Fury’s “most loyal friend” just…because. And then he tried to convince his daughter to come to support them simply because…he believed humanity would do the right thing. Sure, Jan. By the time he died, I felt nothing for it, and it was yet another forced casualty.
As for said daughter, G’iah, played by Emilia Clarke, this felt like another MCU attempt to bring in a well-known actor…just to not really do much with them. Look at Quantummania for another example of that in recent history. In the trailers and hype building, her character was a “mystery player” in this game, and yet it was SO OBVIOUS she was Telos’ daughter. And then, it took less than one episode for her to turn against Gravik and ally back with her father and Fury. Even when that happened, she played the worst “double agent” possible as she was easily caught and nearly killed…but it wasn’t because of a reason that was, again, so obvious.
Who should I go to next? Oh, Rhodey. While he did have more than a few minutes in this show compared to Falcon and the Winter Soldier, his time in the other series was more meaningful. He was the “shocking Skrull twist” that we weren’t supposed to see coming. Hint: we saw it coming. And part of it was because he was the only one they COULD do it with because the Avengers weren’t even remotely close to being brought into this show. Plus, his acting at times was so over-the-top it hurt to watch at points.
Oh, and the less time I have to talk about “Nick Fury’s Skrull Wife”? The better. There was so much wrong with that storyline…so I’m just going to say it was stupid, an insult to relationships (and Nick Fury), and move on.
The only “shining light,” if you will, was a new character. Sonya Falsworth was the “British Nick Fury,” and it was fun watching her work over the course of the episodes. But the irony is that it’s really sad that the new character is doing more with less time than the established characters that we should care about.
Finally, there’s Gravik, the villain. In many ways, Gravik had potential, but his best work came in the middle of the final episode, where he revealed why he hated Nick Fury. When do you have to wait that long to be a somewhat meaningful villain? Something’s wrong. In many ways, he’s a “poor man’s version” of a Kilmonger who wanted to “free his people for the right reasons.” Except, Kilmonger had a true tragic backstory that we SAW, and we saw him take action in various ways to prove he was worthy of fighting T’Challa. We didn’t get that with Gravik.
Just as bad, we got handed a poor man’s version of the Super Skrull! That’s one of the most important characters in Skrull Lore, as it has the powers of the Fantastic Four. But not only does Gravik die mere minutes after getting it, but he also loses to G’iah! Yes, not Nick Fury, G’iah, the girl who abandoned her father and only returned after his death, and now she’s one of the most powerful beings on the planet…just because. Also, how could a guy who had been trained by Nick Fury and did his wetwork for years…lose to someone who hadn’t? He’s a trained killer, and she didn’t do anything like that the whole series, and yet despite having the literal same powers…he lost easily to her. How does that make sense?
Speaking of “make it make sense,” the final episode went from “has potential” to “how did we end up like this?” Not only did things basically go back to how everything was in the first episode (Meaning the Skrulls are working for a government “trying to help them”), things are now WORSE because of a stupid American President (gee, wonder what that was meant to symbolize…?) and yet Nick Fury…is back off to space. Why? Because he’s in The Marvels later this year and “needed to be back in space.” Sure, Nick, just fly back to space and let everyone else clean up the aftermath of what happened…that makes sense.
Oh, and there are PLENTY of plot holes and loose ends that don’t make sense. Including how Everett Ross was captured when he was supposed to be in Wakanda (as he’s a traitor to the US now), or why the President said that they could “find the Skrulls” even though even Nick Fury couldn’t do that short of killing them and more.
Let me put it this way to wrap things up. By the end of the “Secret Invasion” comic run, the entire Marvel Comics world had been turned upside down. Elektra, Black Bolt, Spider-Woman, Hank Pym, Captain Marvel (the original, not Carol), Mockingbird, and more were revealed to be Skrulls and had been embedded for sometimes years to ensure the invasion worked, and it almost did! The invasion led to the “Dark Reign” event, which had drastic ramifications for the Marvel Comics Universe.
In contrast, as I end my Secret Invasion Review, the TV adaptation had…none of that. It was too rushed by it only being six episodes, too rushed in trying to get everything in during that time, and there weren’t any truly meaningful twists that left people wanting to see more. Currently, the show is the lowest-rated Marvel series by critics, so my review score shouldn’t come off as too much of a surprise…as I agree, it was terrible.
Secret Invasion Review
Secret Invasion could’ve been a key setup for multiple stories in the MCU going forward. Instead, things ended up right back where they started, if not worse, and one of the MCU’s best characters came off looking like a fool more times than not. This is not what fans wanted, desired, asked for, or anything in between, and it’s really sad that things went in this direction at all.