TV Review – Secret Invasion
Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has been the supporting character in many Marvel superhero films. He came the closest to a starring role in Captain Marvel (2019) playing a younger version of himself, and the audience could see what approached the origin story for the character.
Set in the present, Secret Invasion revisits Nick Fury and his connection to the Skrulls. If you do not remember what happened in Captain Marvel, I highly suggest (re)watching the film before starting Secret Invasion, or you will be lost about what is happening from the beginning. Nick Fury has returned from S.A.B.E.R. (the space station) to address rising problems on Earth with the Skrulls. The shape-shifting species are still waiting for Fury, and Carol Danvers’ (Brie Larson) promise to be fulfilled. Considering that Captain Marvel took place in 1995 and now it is 2023, the Skrulls’ patience is wearing thin, some more so than others. Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) is no longer on the Skrull Council or the Skrull General. He is an outcast, and continuing to work with Fury does not help his situation. What awaits Fury on the ground is more than he bargained for when he initially received the call to return to Earth.
The central focus in Secret Invasion is, well, an invasion that no one knows about but Talos and the Skrulls. In anger with Fury, one Skull, Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir), has collected his army of Skrulls sympathetic to his cause: revenge on Fury for breaking a promise and destroying and taking over Earth. Aiding him is Talos’ daughter, G’iah (Emilia Clarke); it seems a family rift has sent her into the arms of the “rebels.” The presence of Skrulls on Earth has still not been detected. Still, they have permeated so many levels of international government undetected; it may even be with the blessing of Fury.
Samuel L. Jackson’s updated version of Nick Fury is older and grittier but still in the game. Given the excuse of S.A.B.E.R. due to health concerns, the return to gravity gives him a limp, and his knees are cracking. He is still a no-nonsense, get-things-done type of character, regardless of his outward appearance giving off senior citizen vibes. Because of what happens in the first episode, Fury’s job and life are on the line. With the appearance of Rhodey (Don Cheadle) as an emissary, the U.S. government is not too pleased with how Fury is handling things either, especially without the consent of his boss. As expected, the ostracizing of Fury does not keep him from doing anything he wasn’t already doing.
Secret Invasion has a potential story problem on its hands. When you have made shape-shifters the central focus of a story, it is eventually hard to trust the characters are who they say they are and not a Skrull, especially from the audience’s point of view. This issue comes into focus in the first episode, and the situation becomes dire for one character. Shape-shifting could also be a crutch for the series to lean on. While not so much of an issue in the first two episodes, it may become tiring by the finale, but hopefully not. Certain Skrull shape-shifting rules also beg the question if they are just to save money on CGI.
With every Marvel project, new characters and actors are joining their universe. Most notably with Secret Invasion is Oscar winner Olivia Colman. As Special Agent Sonya Falsworth, she also seems to be at odds with Fury but fully knowledgeable about the Skrulls issue. Still using Colman’s native English accent, Sonya is quite prim and proper but also a bit feisty with tricks up her sleeve. It’s a departure for Olivia Colman, who has quite a few television and film projects, but seeing her in action with the supposed enemy likens her character to Harry Potter’s Dolores Umbridge, and I’m sure that I am not the only one who will see the similarities. This series is Emilia Clarke’s first television series after Game of Thrones, and playing G’iah puts her in the middle of the two sides of Skrulls. While Clarke is an impressive actress, her connection with the character and the chemistry with her screen father leaves something to be desired. I am hoping that her performance improves as the series progresses.
With only two episodes offered for a review, the tone so far of Secret Invasion is serious and dark. Some comedy will always be involved with a Marvel project, but these moments are farther apart than other Marvel series. The series strives to be an espionage thriller, and it is 100 percent hitting that mark. While there may be some initial confusion as the audience reacquaints itself with the setting and the returning characters, the end of the second episode will have a majority of the audience hooked on what is to come. Some revelations will surely bring repercussions for this universe’s Earth, and finding and defeating this enemy with special abilities may be harder than ever before.