Secret Invasion

While I was happy to defend Guardians 3, I am much less enamoured of Marvel’s latest TV production. I’d been looking forward to something involving Nick Fury and the Skrulls. Sadly, what we got was a below par effort that tried to follow in the footsteps of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and had some very obvious problems.

I guess I should not have been too surprised. Anything that Marvel does with a title beginning “Secret” is likely to be a mess. (Ditto anything DC does labeled “Crisis”). But it is a shame because Secret Invasion does try to make a valid point.

The set-up of the series is that, back before the Infinity War, Nickl Fury and Carol Danvers promised to find the Skrulls a new home after their own world had been conquered by the Kree. In the meantime a large group of Skrulls, led by Talos, has been hiding out on Earth, using their shape-shifting powers to remain undetected.

However, Fury and Danvers have been unable to deliver on their promise. Part of this is due to the Blip, which meant Fury was dead for 5 years, but at one point in the series he says that it became obvious early on that finding the Skrulls a new home would be impossible. Given the size of the galaxy, that seems a little strange.

In the meantime, the Skrulls left on Earth have become more and more disaffected. Talos’s leadership has been questioned, and they have turned more to a young radical called Gravik who advocates taking over Earth. Somehow, Skrulls have managed to replace Rhodey (who is now a senior security advisor to the US President), the UN Secretary General, the British Prime Minister and various other world leaders.

At the start of the series, Gravik takes on Fury’s shape to murder Maria Hill. This is a fairly clumsy piece of fridging, and I suspect it was done mainly because Cobie Smulders wanted out of the MCU.

On the other hand, we get the introduction of Olivia Colman as Sonya Falsworth, a ruthless and somewhat bloodthirsty MI6 operative. As you might expect from Colman, she totally steals the show.

The point of the series is that Fury, despite his sympathy for the Skrulls, and his many super-powered friends, is helpless in the face of a refugee crisis. I’m guessing that the showrunners wanted to make a point about how badly the real world is dealing with such things right now, and that racism is a major component of this. However, the way that the story unfolds rather suggests that desperate refugees will turn to violence, and then they will need to be dealt with severely. That’s not a very convincing moral arc.

Worse still, the show has some gaping plot holes. By far the worst is the question of how you prove that someone is a Skrull in disguise. Towards the end of the series, Fury is unable to prove to President Ritson that Rhodey is a Skrull, because, it was claimed, he would have to kill him to do so. However, soon after, Sonya demonstrates that a Skrull has infiltrated MI6 by wounding him. These scenes are a few minutes apart. It doesn’t take a PhD in narrative studies to spot the flaw. Goodness only knows what went on in the writers’ room.

Talking of writers, I should note that the series got off to a really bad start when it was revealed that the opening titles were AI-generated. So maybe there weren’t any writers either. It sometimes felt like it.