SECRET INVASION Review: "The MCU Espionage Thriller We've Been Waiting For & Samuel L. Jackson's Magnum Opus"

SECRET INVASION Review: "The MCU Espionage Thriller We've Been Waiting For & Samuel L. Jackson's Magnum Opus"

Secret Invasion arrives on Disney+ on June 21, and make no mistake about it, not only is the Disney+ series a showcase for Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury, but a story that may well turn the MCU on its head!

Review Opinion
By JoshWilding - Jun 14, 2023 12:06 PM EST
Filed Under: Secret Invasion

Heading into Secret Invasion, you might think that you don’t have a particularly long list of reasons to be excited about Marvel Studios’ latest Disney+ series. Sure, more of Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury is never a bad thing, but it’s been clear from the start that this version of the story isn’t the action-packed epic that Brian Michael Bendis and Leinil Francis Yu delivered on the page back in 2008. In that, pretty much every hero on Earth assembled to battle a seemingly endless legion of Super-Skrulls and this…well, this is a thriller in the same vein as Captain America: The Winter Soldier. And guess what? It’s all the better for it. With surprises every bit as big as the comics and a tone that makes this feel like Nick Fury’s Logan, not only does Secret Invasion exceed expectations, it will rock your world. 

The first two episodes deliver some startling revelations and shocking moments which immediately cement this as a story every bit as vital to the wider MCU as the Multiversal shenanigans playing out elsewhere in this Saga. Earth is facing an invasion larger in scale than we could possibly imagine and humanity’s extinction may well be looming. The Skrulls were promised a home and are now looking to take one, with only Fury (and a couple of friends) standing in their way. The motivations of these alien shape-shifters are both well explained and easy to empathize with, no great shock when we live in a world where every country faces a refugee crisis of some sort. 

Secret Invasion is incredibly timely and hard-hitting in that respect, and while their methods may make them the bad guys, the Skrulls are no mere two-dimensional baddies in this series. They may have green skin and the ability to look like anyone - which, as you might imagine, leads to some fun surprises - but what drives them is entirely human, making what happens here feel real in a way that a heightened world like the MCU often isn’t. 

While the stakes are somewhat lessened given the episodic nature of the MCU and the fact we know Fury returns in The Marvels this November, the show delivers enough twists and turns to make it clear that what's playing out will have an impact on the stories to come. Crucially, however, rather than fretting too much about setting up whatever comes next, Secret Invasion is a showcase for Jackson and Fury alike. 

No longer the man he was after The Blip, the former S.H.I.E.L.D. Director talks a big game, but is not the same force of nature who once told The Avengers what to do. He’s tired, broken, and seemingly done with Earth after Thanos’ attack, and the first two episodes only begin peeling back the layers of who he’s become and what brought him to this place. In what can only be described as Jackson’s best turn as Fury yet, the actor brings a new level of pathos and solemnity to this comic book role that should see him emerge as a rightful frontrunner in every "Best Actor" awards category months from now. His work is riveting, and Jackson reminds us all with this series why he’s more than just the catchphrases and eyepatch; he’s one of the greatest actors on this planet and proves it in a show that allows him to explore Fury like never before. 

Ben Mendelsohn is also on top form as Talos, while Emilia Clarke and Olivia Colman each make a significant impact in a series where it would be all too easy to be overshadowed by Jackson. We’re only just starting to explore who their characters are this early into the series, but rest assured that they both have the potential to be among the best additions made to the MCU in quite some time. Kingsley Ben-Adir is an unexpectedly understated antagonist, but that only serves to make him more menacing. It would be good to see the actor show more of what he’s capable of as the series progresses, though no time is wasted in ensuring we take him as a credible threat. Helping matters is the fact this cast is given such incredible dialogue to play with, and whether it’s Fury recalling a childhood conversation with his mother or a heated back-and-forth between Fury and Don Cheadle’s Rhodey you’ll be unable to pull your eyes from, writers Kyle Bradstreet and Brian Tucker bring their A-game and deliver a sharply written thriller that never lets up. 

Behind the camera, director Ali Selim gives Secret Invasion a feel which is entirely its own. Some filmmakers would have tried too hard to escape that MCU style by leaning into the fact this is a spy story at its core, but Selim merges both to create a series that feels oddly familiar yet wholly unique. With a great grip on action and some clever camera tricks that make the Skrulls feel as creepy as they are alien, the result is a show which is unlike anything Marvel Studios has done before. The only place it really stumbles is with the visual effects; the transformation process for the Skrulls didn’t look amazing in Captain Marvel and it’s still an odd design choice where, if you like it, it’s fine, but if not, it tends to be a distraction (and, with a slightly smaller budget than a $1 billion blockbuster, it doesn’t always look perfect). 

Talking of that 2018 movie, it left many fans unsatisfied by making the Skrulls heroic and not really exploring them beyond a surface level. Since then, we’ve learned they’re still just knocking around, but it’s the simple fact they still don’t have their own home which is really this show’s driving force. Secret Invasion also finds ways to make up for a lack of answers in the past, whether it’s what the deal was with Spider-Man: Far From Home’s post-credits scene or what came next after Talos and company blasted off into space alongside Carol Danvers. It deserves a lot of credit for that and if what we’ve seen in these first two episodes is any indication, it’s only going to get better from here.

In the end, we’re left with a series that’s essentially The Winter Soldier meets Logan meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and if that doesn’t sell you on it, likely nothing will. What it’s lacking in flashy superhero battles, it makes up for with edge-of-your-seat action and the kind of jaw-dropping moments which will not only turn this world on its head, but may rock the foundations of everything you thought you knew about a franchise Jackson himself helped kick off way back in 2008. 

Secret Invasion is the MCU espionage thriller we’ve been waiting for. Samuel L. Jackson’s magnum opus as Nick Fury, the show delivers one jaw-dropping moment after another and quickly establishes itself as essential viewing for any Marvel fan. [⭐⭐⭐⭐]

CRIMINAL Prime Video Series Casts SECRET INVASION Star Emilia Clarke As Mallory

CRIMINAL Prime Video Series Casts SECRET INVASION Star Emilia Clarke As Mallory

Marvel's SECRET INVASION Star Kingsley Ben-Adir Reveals How He Responded To The Show's Negative Reception
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Marvel's SECRET INVASION Star Kingsley Ben-Adir Reveals How He Responded To The Show's Negative Reception

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MahN166A - 6/14/2023, 12:01 PM
In before everyone goes off on Josh for giving a bad review on a DC Film and gives a standing ovation for an MCU project!

DrReedRichards - 6/14/2023, 12:07 PM
@MahN166A -

When one side is consistently above average with it's worst being merely mediocre, and the other is consistently disappointing with its best being just better than anticipated, it makes sense for certain folks to want to feel special by challenging the status quo.

It also makes just as much sense to call those same folks a bunch of arrogant contrarian morons, so make of that what you will.
TheWalkingCuban - 6/14/2023, 12:08 PM
@JoshWilding - HOW COULD YOU!

Seriously hyped, can’t believe D+ is gonna give us what we thought Black Widow and Falcon and Winter Soldier were gonna be: a Captain America: The Winter Soldier level event. Bout finally!
AllsGood - 6/14/2023, 12:05 PM
Secret Invasion "The MCU Espionage Thriller We've Been Waiting For & Samuel L. Jackson's Magnum Opus"

ShellHead - 6/14/2023, 12:05 PM
That whole "MCU is dead" talk lasted about one movie then, lol. Glad to hear they committed on the tone with this show, excited to check it out
Lilvic92 - 6/14/2023, 12:10 PM
@ShellHead - The MCU didn’t die but Marvel was absolutely attempting suicide with the decisions they were making and the quality of projects we were getting. Luckily unlike Lucasfilm, Marvel had the self awareness to realize that what they were doing wasn’t working and decided to course correct before it was too late. Let’s see if it pays off.
McMurdo - 6/14/2023, 2:21 PM
@ShellHead - guardians 3 has Been there only standout film in years buddy. And Gunn straight walked lol
Tasmaniac - 6/14/2023, 8:37 PM
@ShellHead - I dunno man, I watched the first 5 minutes online a couple of days ago and the acting of the guy opposite Ross was pretty B Grade. I want to be pleasantly surprised, but it left me underwhelmed.
Lilvic92 - 6/14/2023, 12:07 PM
YES!! I hope this show is successful and shows Marvel that they need more projects of that type of tone, they can still do the light hearted stuff but don’t force it on every character. Unlike Star Wars, Marvel can absolutely be saved, let’s hope this is the first sign of that 🙏🏾
RohanPatel - 6/14/2023, 12:09 PM
Watched the first two episodes yesterday, both are pretty good. Really enjoyed the tone and performances, real old-school conspiracy thriller. The stakes are quite high too and the threat is bigger than you'd think.

Anyways, no review from me, but getting ready for something big... 😉

tmp3 - 6/14/2023, 12:21 PM
@KingPatel - I'm equally jealous that you're seeing MI this early and excited to read your review when it drops. And now you got me thinking I'm due for a Fallout rewatch tn
MotherGooseUPus - 6/14/2023, 12:35 PM
@tmp3 - @KingPatel.

Also very very very jealous you are seeing it early, but im excited for the review. Just got my thursday night ticket to see MI
tmp3 - 6/14/2023, 12:39 PM
@MotherGooseUPus - forgot tickets go on sale today, gonna book them asap for IMAX
MotherGooseUPus - 6/14/2023, 12:42 PM
@tmp3 - get on it lol. I got mine for XPlus.. basically samething as Imax. July 13 can't get here soon enough now
LukeCage2155 - 6/16/2023, 6:55 PM
@KingPatel -
HAUSMAN01 - 6/14/2023, 12:10 PM
Most of the early reviews os the 1st 2 episodes are good hopefully the remaining 4 are good too ,
AllsGood - 6/14/2023, 12:15 PM
Marvel Studios is still going STRONG and a Big Thanks to :)

GhostDog - 6/14/2023, 12:15 PM
These first few episode reviews need to go. Very interested in this but just show the journalists the whole season or make them wait until it all releases.
MotherGooseUPus - 6/14/2023, 12:37 PM
@GhostDog - THANK YOU! i was guna post that... how can you make assumptions of how a show will be after only 2 episodes?? thats like judging a 2hr movie with just seeing the first 10mins
mountainman - 6/14/2023, 12:48 PM
@GhostDog - The D+ shoes tend to sag in the middle and many can’t nail the finale. Almost all of them start strong. A positive review of 2/6 episodes doesn’t give us much insight.
MyCoolYoung - 6/14/2023, 1:15 PM
@GhostDog - I agree because the shows never leak so I don’t get the two episode reviews. The show can go downhill or get even better after that.
TheManWithoutFear - 6/14/2023, 12:18 PM
Bring it on. This tone is my jam and i love Nick Fury.
tmp3 - 6/14/2023, 12:19 PM
Getting pretty mid reviews from most of the big publications, and starts off with a 64% on RT. The footage never grabbed me but the concept of a paranoid-espionage show with Fury sounded really exciting. We'll see.
Shivermetimbers - 6/14/2023, 2:04 PM
@tmp3 - Came here to post something similar. Seems to be a love or hate type of show. I thought the trailers were really interesting, so I will definitely give it a try with lowered expectations.
Spawnnn - 6/14/2023, 12:19 PM
Oh look, Josh Wilding giving a perfect score for another mediocre Marvel product of the month. Imagine my shock.

AllsGood - 6/14/2023, 12:23 PM
@Spawnnn - Only 13 reviews.
Spawnnn - 6/14/2023, 12:23 PM
@AllsGood - Which is alarming, because the half of them are goody bag "critics".
Tonic24k - 6/14/2023, 12:40 PM
@Spawnnn - These critics are all over the place. Just read two "rotten" reviews and their major complaints are "humorless" and "tries to take itself too seriously". LMAO! The two biggest complaints fans have to the contrary. So I won't be surprised if this is yet again another huge margin between critic and fan scoring.

But also, very silly to jump to conclusions this early without anyone but critics seeing it for themselves yet.
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