In Marvel Studios’ new series Secret Invasion, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) makes his return to the present-day Marvel Cinematic Universe in order to prevent a faction of shapeshifting aliens, called Skrulls, from taking over Earth. This six episode adaptation of the beloved comic book mini-series aims to bring a more mature, adult-oriented story with twists and betrayals at every turn. The Disney+ Secret Invasion premiere episode may be slow to start, but ends with a shocker that will have MCU fans buzzing.
Disney+ provided us with the first two episodes of the series and they should please Marvel fans that have been clamoring for a more adult approach to its content. This 24/Jack Ryan style thriller feels close in tone to what Star Wars did with Andor on Disney+ (although not as well so far) and excels because of strong performances by the superb cast of veteran actors and actresses. Longtime favorites and often short-changed characters such as Jackson’s Fury or Don Cheadle’s James “Rhodey” Rhodes get solid dialogue and character growth without a single explosion or power suit needed. A tense, early scene featuring these two in a secret meeting wonderfully sets the tone and high stakes for all of those involved.
The two episodes also provide some intriguing updates on just what The Skrulls and Fury have been up to since all the way back in 2019’s Captain Marvel. This also means the incredible Ben Mendelsohn returns as Fury’s Skrull ally, Talos, and he does not disappoint. Fury and Talos’ relationship is complicated and the events of the first episode painfully fracture their relationship. Mendelsohn is nuanced and fantastic as the conflicted Skrull, pulling back the layers of the secrets he’s keeping, while testing the duo’s long time bromance.
The absolute best upgrade to the MCU roster is the addition of Olivia Colman as another old ally of Fury’s, playing the high-ranking MI6 agent, Sonya Falsworth. Colman is having the time of her life as the British equivalent of Fury, yet doesn’t have the slightest bit of the loose morality of Fury himself. Hopefully Fury and Falsworth will continue to have a brutal cat-and-mouse game in the remaining episodes.
Other newcomers Emilia Clarke as Talos’ daughter, G’iah, and Kingsley Ben-Adir as the early main Skrull antagonist, Gravik, are centered on the darker content of the series. Gravik is a cunning adversary and played with a gentle brutality by Ben-Adir as he fights for his terroristic cause. The Skrulls are not innate villains and as the motivations for their actions start to surface, it becomes clear this is a story not of black and white, but the gray areas of the MCU. Both Clarke and Ben-Adir have strong moments in the early episodes that showcase their talent alongside the lengths that the rebel Skrull faction will go to achieve their goals.
The Secret Invasion comic book source material made its name on the shocking surprises and game-changing twists to the overall universe and this Disney+ series is also starting out in that direction. Aside from the aforementioned characters, old favorites return like Cobie Smulders as former high-ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill and Martin Freeman as former CIA agent Everett K. Ross, adding to the show’s paranoia as The Skrulls can look like anyone. Who is a Skrull? Which side is everyone on? Who dies? If you can be patient with the slow burn, these questions and more will be revealed within the first two episodes of Secret Invasion and I, for one, am in for the rest of the ride.
Score: 3.5 out 5
Marvel Studios’ Secret Invasion premieres June 21, exclusively on Disney+.