SECRET INVASION. Is it still Marvel or already spy sci-fi? [REVIEW of the first episode]

Is the new Marvel series worth watching?

Jakub Piwoński

22 June 2023

Marvelization is in full swing. Despite the feeling of material fatigue, despite the shaky financial results of recent comic book-based movies, Disney is not letting go, because it knows that the stream needs content to keep flowing. In streaming, for which subsequent series are dedicated, the concept of satiety does not exist. The content must grow, users demand news, but preferably those they already know. It’s worth forging this iron further. Even if it’s not done with Thor’s hammer.

But let’s be more precise. Series are a branch of the superhero universe, which is currently complementary to it, but has much to add. What could not be crammed into the cinema, what had the potential to be developed, what encouraged to change the formula and experiment, was successfully turned into episodes. So far, sometimes it was more sensible, sometimes less, but it was always loud enough. Behind us are such productions as Loki, Hawkeye, WandaVision, Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel. Secret Invasion joins this group. I’m after the first episode and I’m sharing my impressions.

If we would like to be better prepared for the Secret Invasion screening, then among the wide range of Marvel universe productions, it is best to catch up with Captain Marvel before approaching the new Disney series. I did and I don’t regret it. It is here that we get to know the plot of the Skrull race, which, led by Talos, initiates wars in the galaxy, which is opposed by Vers, actually Carol – an earthling with cosmic powers. On a side note, I will add that this is one of the most surprising films of the entire universe in my opinion. It would seem that it was designed for feminist agitating, but in fact it has an interesting, complex main character and is filled to the brim with twists and ambiguous, even shocking plot moves. I was surprised myself how easily I got into this spectacle, even when I approach “Marvel” recently with a lot of reserve, due to the feeling of fatigue of the material.

In the same original and surprising way, Secret Invasion was announced, which this time was to provide a slightly more blunt, full-blooded story in the spirit of spy cinema, to distinguish the guys and girls running around in tight latex outfits. Nick Fury took over the baton again, but in a slightly more tired, jaded version. Whoever watched Spider-Man: Far From Home more closely, from the post-credits scene, knows that Fury went to a well-deserved retirement, with the difference that it was not planned on Earth, but in a distant galaxy. However, Fury returns to Earth at the very beginning of the Secret Invasion pilot to fight for law and order once more.

He will be assisted in this by Talos himself, the antagonist from the aforementioned Captain Marvel film, who – as we know – in the same film turned out not to be as sinister and disgusting as he seemed. Anyway, look at Ben Mendelsohn playing and say for yourself – can these eyes lie (wink at the fact that he is currently a full-time villain of the big screen)? Secret Invasion, which connects to Captain Marvel with both the Skrull storyline and the characters of Talos and Nick Fury, is a series set years after the events presented in the 2019 show. The time that has passed has resulted in the fact that the two main characters managed to become friends, which makes Secret Invasion close to something like a buddy movie – a buddy police movie in the SF edition.

In one of the interviews, Ben Mendelsohn himself mentioned it, saying:

The relationship between Talos and Fury is closer than ever. I don’t know if Talos is to him like Abbott is to Costell, but it’s definitely something the audience will like, although they will also be aware of how serious the situation is.

What’s right is right, because in the pilot episode of Secret Invasion you can see that this time the creators wanted to tell the story in such a way as to give it the right dose of seriousness. Not only by turning the character towards himself. It caught my attention that the action was also clearly slowed down, which – for now – is carried out slowly, with respect for details and with the celebration of simple dialogues. This has a very positive effect, often you have the impression that you are watching some sensational science fiction series with a criminal underpinning, and not another motley and noisy product of the Marvel universe.

In addition to Mendelsohn and Jackson, the series also features Emilia Clarke, who supposedly reprises the role of a woman who does not discriminate in means, but there is something different, more mature about her. As if the look concealed a large dose of self-confidence and calmness. This can be an interesting character, considering how she will enter into a relationship with Talos and, in a way, complement him (Clarke’s character turns out to be … or not, I won’t reveal it).

Mendelsohn, Jackson, Clarke are, of course, three big advantages of the new show. Olivia Colman is also in the background, so you can be calm about acting in Secret Invasion. For me, however, the most interesting thread in this production seems to be a thread barely developed in Captain Marvel, and here constituting the basis for the plot – that is, the shapeshifting of the Skrulls. This ability creates interesting plot possibilities, adding an additional aspect of paranoia and uncertainty to this espionage story. Whatever, but when the enemy behaves like a chameleon, having unlimited possibilities of blending into the background, it is very easy to make mistakes and tragedies – which is proven by the strong final scene of the pilot episode.

Overall, I’m for yes, but I have a few reservations about Secret Invasion. I don’t feel any threat here. I also don’t know if on this rather frugal ground the creators will be able to keep my attention for more than three episodes. But solid acting and the atmosphere of old-school, Cold War SF cinema should tip the scales in this case.

Jakub Piwoński

Jakub Piwoński

Cultural expert, passionate about popular culture, in particular films, series, computer games and comics. He likes to fly away to unknown, fantastic regions, thanks to his fascination with science fiction. Professionally, however, he looks back more often, thanks to his work as a museum promotion specialist, investigating the mysteries of the beginnings of cinematography. His favorite film is "The Matrix", because it combines two areas close to his heart - religion and martial arts.

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