August 25, 2023

Why was Secret Invasion such a flop?

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Sofia Radysh in London, United Kingdom
Rating: filled star empty star empty star empty star empty star

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Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury in Marvel Studios' SECRET INVASION, exclusively on Disney+

Photo by: Des Willie. © 2023 MARVEL.

Secret Invasion – a new Marvel series – has showcased a new low for superhero shows after scoring an abominable 7% for the finale on Rotten Tomatoes.

The series takes us on a journey in a ‘post blip’ world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) where Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson) has come back to Earth (from the S.A.B.E.R. space station).

There he discovers that Skrulls, a shape-shifting species he first met in the 90s, have slowly turned from refugees into terrorists who have infiltrated the governments of Earth, and their new leader Gravik becomes the villain of the show.

The below contains full spoilers for 'Secret Invasion'

To understand why this series turned out to be such a disappointment, it’s important to know the origin.

The comic series, published 15 years ago, unfortunately often dismissed by the fans, is based on largely the same premise – where Skrulls take over the world, without the heroes knowing.

There the story is on a very large scale, where we discover that our favourite superheroes have been replaced by the Skrulls back in the 60s and we have spent most of the stories with these imposters. In that story, the world is filled with paranoia about discovering who else of your loved ones has been a Skrull for years.

The biggest disappointment is that for a show with shape-shifting aliens, it has absolutely no mystery, which is so needed here.

A lot could’ve been done with the suspense of finding out which ones of our beloved heroes have been switched out for a Skrull and how long ago. But no, the series tries to tie itself to the MCU by bringing in supporting players without powers, such as Everett K. Ross, who could’ve been a Skrull for a very long time, but he is instead immediately killed in the first episode – leaving a small number of good human suspects.

Next on the list is Maria Hill. Her turning out to be a Skrull would’ve been a wonderful twist for the show, because she is one of the many characters not really close to Fury. But no, she is shelved at the start of the show, to give Fury motivation to go after Gravik, which he doesn’t even need because he was going to go after him anyway.

Hill is wasted for no reason at all, though in the comics she’s an amazing character who is never afraid to question Fury, and we even see her second-guess him in ‘The Avengers’. If she lived, she could’ve been part of the mystery and intrigue of the show, but she’s killed in the first episode.

The show looks and feels cheap, mainly because of how the sets look.

‘Secret Invasion’ is small-roomed and includes a laughable amount of car scenes. Small, blank sets with TV lighting don’t do it any favours.

The scenes where the president of the United States (Dermot Mulroney)is in the hospital room all alone with the exception of Rhodey are laughable, with no guards, and no doctors around. The meme-worthy scene where the president asks for a gun from one of his guards, which is ridiculous and stupid, comes back to the cheapness.

So why does this series look and feel as cheap and as underdeveloped as it is? Well, a report by Daniel Richtman revealed the initial script allegedly included scenes too similar to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which was further reiterated by Ryan Arey on Screencrush.

But I think this show could never be what it promised – a spy thriller with Fury as the main protagonist, because in the MCU we, the audience, will always be thinking ‘Why wouldn’t he call the Avengers?’

At first, to answer that in ‘Secret Invasion;, Fury offers up an excuse, that if Avengers go against Skrulls, they would immediately shapeshift into the heroes and turn them into terrorists. That would be ok, if only Skrulls couldn’t shapeshift into someone just by looking at them, so they had a million chances to shapeshift into the heroes. Then Fury offers up a better excuse, that it’s a personal case for him -the problem he created, by not finding Skrulls a home, and this excuse only kind of works.

G’iah is one of those characters , which have nothing to do in the series, she spends most of her scenes just staring away into nothing, which seemed like a waste of Emilia Clarke’s talent. She starts off the show by being on the bad guys side, then she turns to the good guys, but doesn’t stop the bombing, and it is never addressed whether she was trying to play both sides or just never joined her father – one of the good guys properly.

G’iah should’ve been one of the central characters, torn inside between a new revolutionary leader and a father that she loves. The show doesn’t fully explore this character and therefore her arc makes no sense, with jumping from one side to another. What it turns out at the end of the show is that G’iah has nothing to do the whole time, because she’s waiting around to become a super Skrull in the finale.

The finale is stupid enough on its own. The plan that G’iah and Fury hatched makes no sense and relies on pure luck and coincidence.

For example, how did G’iah know that Gravik would keep Fury in the chamber and wouldn’t kill him the instant he got the Harvest. Was their plan really to give both G’iah and Gravik powers?

Both super Skrulls get the hang of their powers really fast, even powers that are not really controlled by the actual heroes, such as Ghost’s quantum entanglement. G’iah is now the strongest marvel superhero and we’ll hopefully live to see how that plays out.

This show had some good parts too – Olivia Colman. She glows on the screen, enjoys torturing people and has great fun. She was a delight and has been praised by audiences as such.

Fury’s relationship with his wife (Charlayne Woodard) is another standout moment. Though not perfectly executed, the moment with the Raymond Carver poem was done beautifully and is one of the strongest sequences in the entire series.

Overall, watch at your own risk, enjoy Colman’s performance and the show’s cringey moments such as “GIVE ME YOUR GUN, GODDAMMIT”, which could’ve shape shifted into smarter and better sequences, but we ended up with this.

Nonetheless, the plot is there, and you still can have fun with it.

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Sofia Radysh

Science Section Editor

Animal welfare correspondent

Kyiv, Ukraine | London, United Kingdom

Born in 2005, Sofia lived in Kyiv, but now, because of the war, is a refugee in London. She is interested in animal welfare and how current events and social media impact the lives of our four-legged friends, and writes about this in Harbingers’ Magazine.

In 2022, she took over from Isaac Kadas as the second editor-in-chief of Harbingers’ Magazine.

In her free time, she does dog training and film-making. She likes getting out of her comfort zone and trying new things out.

Sofia speaks Ukrainian, English, Russian and a bit of German.

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