Marvel Studios has been receiving mixed reviews across this phase of the MCU, but it hasn’t slowed their vision of the big picture. Disney + has been a prominent landing place for some exciting projects. None of these projects, perhaps, has been more in demand than one of the most popular storylines in Marvel Comics, and now it is upon us with Secret Invasion.
Secret Invasion finds the iconic Samuel L. Jackson returning as the spy whose secrets have secrets, Nick Fury. Fury, for those who love an excellent post-credit scene, has spent quite a long time in space but has been lured back down to earth to help prevent a war between humankind and the shape-shifting Skrulls.
“Secret Invasion finds the iconic Samuel L. Jackson returning as the spy whose secrets have secrets, Nick Fury.”
In addition to Jackson, a number of other MCU actors are making their return in Secret Invasion, including Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother) as Fury’s right hand, Agent Maria Hill, Don Cheadle (Ocean’s Eleven) as Colonel James Rhodes, Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as the Skull, Talos and Martin Freeman (Sherlock Holmes) as Agent Everett Ross. New to the franchise (whose roles I am keeping under wraps) are Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), Olivia Colman (The Crown), Kingsley Ben-Adir (Peaky Blinders), Christopher McDonald (Happy Gilmore) and Dermot Mulroney (My Best Friend’s Wedding).
The story plays out like a James Bond movie if 007 was a 74-year-old man who had been part of a dozen blockbuster films before getting his own vehicle… oh, and there are aliens! The spy thriller vibe is a perfect fit for the series and plays into the themes presented in the two episodes I had the pleasure of watching, the main one being a conspiracy. Imagine the enemy is ready to strike; it could be anyone, even the people you trust the most. That, at its core, is what Secret Invasion is all about.
While dealing with the threat of war, Nick Fury also has to deal with issues dating back to the Snap. You’ll get more backstory on Fury’s relationship with the Skrulls beyond Captain Marvel, giving you the proper context for what led us from there to the events of Secret Invasion. While we see a lot of familiar faces, you’ll find that many are missing that you’d expect to appear during a world-threatening event (an all-too-familiar theme in Avengers solo films). I think Secret Invasion offers the best, most sensible explanation for why Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are missing in action.
Secret Invasion does what you most want from a story like this, it gives you a few answers but leaves you with a lot of new questions that will lead you down the rabbit hole with the other characters. It’s paced like your favourite spy stories, with slow exposition building to a crescendo and then stepping back to deal with the aftermath. Only two episodes in, and I’m dying to see what comes next. Without spoiling anything, the last moments of that second episode left me saying aloud, “Wait, what?”
Jackson delivers a performance on par with his other appearances in the MCU and doesn’t wear out his welcome with the extra screen time. He gets the opportunity to be as Samuel L. Jackson-y as he wants to be on screen, save the Hard R Rated expletives. His chemistry with everyone on screen, particularly Ben Mendelsohn’s Talos, is delightful even during a tense scene.
“Jackson delivers a performance on par with his other appearances in the MCU and doesn’t wear out his welcome with the extra screen time.”
Kingsley Ben-Adir’s stoic, even-keeled performance gives strength to his character and context to his relationship with those around him. Though not without talent, Emilia Clarke has yet to pay off in the episodes I have seen. You can tell her conflict throughout the series will significantly impact the later episodes. To her credit, this nuance comes across in her performance. However, the standout of the supporting cast is the radiant, charismatic Olivia Colman, who steals every scene, whether working with one of the leads or essentially going solo opposite a day player.
Most exciting about Secret Invasion and the characters in this (or any) spy tale is the limitless amount of the unknown. Add to that the fact that we are in the Marvel Universe, and anything can happen. Will we see some big MCU cameos? What will become of the characters? Who’s on what side?
Secret Invasion premieres on June 21 on Disney +, with episodes dropping weekly throughout its six-episode run. I’ll be waiting with bated breath as each episode drops to get the answers to these very questions and, undoubtedly, a great deal more.