Directed by: Ali Selim
Distributed by: Disney+
Written by Anna Harrison
There’s only so much a person can take. After increasingly mediocre outings from Marvel Studios, “Secret Invasion” has become its crowning shame: a convoluted mess of a series with what should be massive ramifications for the Marvel Cinematic Universe treated as nothing more than minor inconveniences, and proves once and for all (if there was any doubt) that Kevin Feige has spread himself too thin. If you thought this was going to be the MCU’s “Andor,” think again.
The problem starts with “Captain Marvel,” a movie whose mediocrity I now long for after watching this dud of a show. “Captain Marvel” introduced us to the Skrulls, shape-shifting aliens who, in a change from the comics, turned out to be good guys, leaving “Secret Invasion” with a bit of a problem. How do you make the surprise heroes of “Captain Marvel” into a threat? Add to that the lack of development about the Skrulls—their culture, world, politics, relationships, anything—and you find yourself backed into a real corner.
The solution? Make some ugly, lazy AI-generated opening credits Try to backpedal as much as you can, throw in loads of exposition about Skrull Councils and their factions, act like the Skrull Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) have been best buddies for decades, despite little evidence to back it up, and cross your fingers and hope that it works.
Spoiler: it does not.
“Secret Invasion” has a premise ripe with potential for paranoia: anyone you meet could be an alien hiding their identity. Politicians, celebrities, even superheroes could all be Skrulls, and you would never know. The problem is that “Secret Invasion” holds no suspense, as its new characters hold no interest (except for Olivia Colman as a delightful British agent of some organization whose name I’ve already forgotten despite finishing the episodes mere hours ago, because they were that boring) and the returning ones either act like idiots or sprout new personalities out of nowhere. Oh, Fury has a wife? He has been working with the Skrulls in secret for decades? How grand. How lovely to have the mystery of this character stripped away for reveals that mean nothing except for whatever three people on this planet got invested in “Secret Invasion.” It’s all empty posturing.
Then there is also the nonsensical plot around the Skrull Gavrik (Kingsley Ben-Adir) wanting to create “Super Skrulls” (a real phrase said in this real, totally-not-AI-generated show), which results in the ugliest, most idiotic final fight ever put to the screen in a superhero entry. (Disclaimer: I haven’t seen “The Flash.”) Weak attempts at paranoia give way to nonsense superhero mumble-jumble, and G’iah (Emilia Clarke) becomes so absurdly powerful that there should be no need for the Avengers anymore, though the show does not seem to take this into account. Secret Skrull reveals retroactively take away weight from better moments when the MCU could actually make you feel something—though I suppose that’s not entirely fair. “Secret Invasion” made me feel precisely two things: boredom and anger.
If you want a Marvel property where the heroes don’t know who to trust, just watch season four’s Life Model Decoy arc in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” where just five minutes of the episode “Self-Control” blows the entirety of “Secret Invasion” out of the water. I mean, come on. You would think a show costing $212 million could do better than Marvel’s forgotten ABC black sheep, but here we are. “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” stays winning. I’ll just go rewatch that instead.
“Secret Invasion” Trailer