Friday, August 4, 2023

Secret Invasion (2023) review

    SECRET INVASION by Marvel and Disney was the MCU project I was looking forward to most. Well, not quite, I think I was looking forward to Ms. Marvel and Hawkeye a bit more since I'm a huge fan of the former as well as love Kate Bishop from the comics. But Secret Invasion was high on my list of series to watch because I am a big Nick Fury fan and I really enjoy the Skrulls as villains. 

    While it was mostly an excuse to have superheroes fight versions of themselves with multiple powers, it was still fun. I was hoping Emilia Clarke would play the role of Queen Veranke from the comic, the religious fanatic Skrull. It was too much to hope that she would play Jessica Drew, even if just as an agent of SHIELD.

    Unfortunately, the series chose not to follow anything but the basic plot of Skrulls attempting to take over the Earth. This is also extra-confusing because Captain Marvel had already done a surprising twist with the Skrulls being homeless refugees rather than the conquering Empire. The show's solution? Well, let's just ignore all of the changes and make the Skrulls generically evil now. They want to kill all of humanity to claim our planet. Why?

     Honestly, the show never gives a very good reason for why the Skrulls want to kill all humans. There's some vague acknowledgement of radicalization based on the idea that Fury and Carol Danvers made a promise to find them a new home but didn't succeed in the past thirty years. Except, it seems an exceptional jump from "we're understandably pissed at you for not living up to your promise" to "let's kill you and all of your children."

    The problem of Secret Invasion is that it suffers on both a political as well as character-based element. We never understand the motivations of the Skrulls and while it's possible they're all just a bunch of bastards, that's clearly not what the show wants us to think of them. They portray the Skrulls as struggling and sympathetic, you know, except when they don't.

    The show basically consists of a few action scenes and excuse plots ("oh no, the Skrulls are going to do X and start a nuclear war. How will Fury stop them this week!") tied together with duct tape as well as bailing wire. The show somehow manages to make an espionage thriller starring Nick Fury boring and fairly one-dimensional. This is in direct contrast to Captain America: The Winter Soldier that managed to be both a superhero story as well as a spy thriller.

    The show also wastes its cast of characters with the show held aloft by Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelson, and Olivia Colman. Kingsley Ben-Adir and Emilia Clark try their hardest, but their characters are so sketchily drawn that I'm not sure what we're supposed to make of them or their motivations Ironically, the show's main villain is at his most interesting in perhaps the last five minutes of his screentime when he explains how abused he felt by Fury's misuse of Skrull agents.

    The show's politics seem damn toxic. Whether you're on the Right or Left of the political spectrum, most people don't think the proper solution to discovering some terrorists among a group is wholesale genocide. However, the show is full of weird fearmongering about secret cabals, lizard people, and Russia being set up as America's enemy by an outside third party. Apparently, the invasion of Ukraine caused massive reshoots and I shudder to think what the original was like.

    In conclusion, the show is just bad. There's some standout moments, Nick talking about his past during Segregation and Talos defending his daughter in a restaurant but these are few and far between. Maybe it was silly expecting they'd have a bunch of fundamentalist Skrull invade or even try to replicate the comics but it wasn't too much to expect them to tell a coherent story. There's rumors part of this may be due to reshoots removing all reference to Russia invading Ukraine (which was apparently the Skrulls original plan). If so, that's probably a more interesting story than the one we got.


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