REVIEW: Secret Invasion (2023) Episode One

Last Updated on July 24, 2023

Secret Invasion was a show I was really looking forward to. I’m a huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but, unfortunately (for Disney), it’s been running out of steam ever since Avengers: Endgame. The X-men, Fantastic Four, Blade, and other properties coming back offer it opportunities to breathe new life into the franchise but it’s kind of meandering right now with so many films killing off or retiring characters. No, I’m not bitter about Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.

Disney+ has also pushed a heavy focus on its television shows when they probably should have made at least a few of these movies. Hawkeye, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and even Moon Knight feel like they could have been trimmed a bit before being made into movies. Some, like She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, and Loki are better paced for being television series.

So, what did I think of Secret Invasion’s pilot? Well, my impression is mixed. Secret Invasion was a somewhat mediocre follow-up to Avengers Disassembled, The House of M, X-men: Decimation, and Civil War. Basically, the Skrulls show up, have been replacing heroes and then they attack everyone with their superpowers. It also played into some uncomfortable politics with the advertising showing the Skrulls invoking Obama’s campaign speeches as well as the Skrulls being based on ISIS.

The television version is even more confusing in its politics with the Skrulls in the Marvel Cinematic Universe being different from the comic. The Skrulls in the comic universe are an authoritarian racist empire that loses their homeworld before deciding to take Earth as their new one. The Skrulls in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are a bunch of homeless refugees being hunted by Space Nazis AKA the Kree.

The show is left with the uncomfortable Far Right talking point that refugees are just a bunch of potential terrorists waiting to eventually overthrow their host nation. Doctor Who’s “The Zygon Invasion” managed to thread the needle with the distinctly similar ‘refugees on Earth with shapeshifting alien’ plot with a focus on the people involved being victims as much as they are aggressors.

Secret Invasion has the premise that the Skrulls, living among us for thirty years, now want to kill all of humanity and take over the Earth for…reasons. Nick Fury (Sam Jackson) comes back from his space station to try to deal with the problem. Aiding Nick Fury in this is Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) and Maria HIll (Colbie Smulders). Talos’ daughter, G’iah (Emilia Clark), is part of the radicalized Skrulls but still has a conscience. The main Skrull, Gravik, is planning to kill all of humanity by getting America to go to war with Russia.

Honestly, things aren’t well-defined and I’m not sure why the Skrulls have decided to become genocidal now. There doesn’t seem to be a specific inciting event. It seems like they skipped a few steps. It doesn’t seem like there’s so many Skrulls that they need an entire planet to take over. So, it’s a big jump to genocide and seemingly having all of the Skrulls but for a handful want to kill every human makes it seem like the show is saying refugees are untrustworthy monsters.

Then there’s the fact a major character of the MCU, or at least a well-liked well-beloved one, is killed for seemingly no other reason than to ramp up the stakes. As a fan of the character, I was not a fan of this development and feel like the show does not benefit from it in the slightest. Indeed, it almost caused me to drop it completely.

Right now, I’m not feeling Secret Invasion. The show seems to be rushing into its storyline, does not seem to have done much to set up the Skrulls as villains, and hasn’t introduced its bad guy or his motivations well. Plus, killing the character it did was a big mistake for those who are the sort of MCU superfans that would best enjoy this series.

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CT Phipps

CT Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He's the author of Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, Straight Outta Fangton, and The Supervillainy Saga. He is also a frequent contributor to Grimdark Magazine.