A Nick Fury-led series being branded as Marvel Studios' first "crossover event" telling the story of one of the most iconic Marvel Comics events of all time? It has to be a guaranteed success, right? Well, things went sideways quickly for Secret Invasion.
A handful of fans enjoyed the series, but more fans than usual seem to agree with the critics. Here is a list of a few of the biggest criticisms coming out of Secret Invasion.
1.) What Could Have Been
On paper, Secret Invasion had all of the pieces necessary to be a smash hit.
The cast features Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Emilia Clarke, Kinglsey Ben-Adir, Olivia Colman, Don Cheadle, Charlayne Woodard, and Cobie Smulders. It's a mix of star power and fan favorites that most Disney+ series could only dream of.
The Secret Invasion comic book event is one of the most iconic and beloved Marvel Comics runs in the history of the brand. It also just so happens to be the perfect story to be adapted into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the espionage branch.
It also came at the perfect time to capitalize on the current state of the genre being almost a full year removed from She-Hulk and the first series in Phase 5. The MCU's first "crossover event" was primed to stand out amongst some saturation concerns in the comic book content.
While the cast managed to deliver a handful of stellar performances, the show never managed to capture the tone of the Secret Invasion comics. No one asked for it to follow the story beat-for-beat, but a sense of suspense and espionage-driven intrigue would have been nice.
2.) Managing New Characters
The script seemed to be solid with a series of great monologues and speeches, but the editing and pacing of the story put that script in a tough spot.
This can be most easily seen through the usage and minutes given to the new supporting characters of the show.
G'iah, played by Emilia Clarke, ended the series as arguably the most important player on the board. Her lead-up to that point was largely reliant on being the daughter of Talos and the number two to Gravik. Minutes ≠ importance.
Priscilla Fury/Varra, played by Charlayne Woodard, probably has the second biggest importance at the end as Nick Fury's estranged wife and suspect Skrull informant. While the love story between Varra and Nick Fury had its moments, it seemed to overtake any other suspense-driven storylines week-to-week.
Then there is Olivia Colman's Sonya Farnsworth. Arguably the MVP of the series, Colman stole every scene she was in with this magical combination of Dolores Umbridge and the Joker. However, she was nothing more than a supporting role with little to no depth to her character, motives, etc.
3.) Death Bait
The series kicked off with a bang as the premiere episode had the death of Maria Hill as the cliffhanger. There was Skrull trickery, suspenseful walking chases, and an impactful death to one of the most veteran characters on the MCU roster. It was a great start.
Then came the sudden and surprising death of G'iah at the hands of Gravik. This was a death that did not make sense in Episode 3 and was predictably undone in the next scene. This meant viewers had one impactful surprise death and one death that meant virtually nothing.
Afterward, in what was supposed to be one of the biggest emotional moments of the series, Talos goes down in Episode 4. This is the same episode that saw his daughter come back to life.
The overuse of Gravik surprisingly killing main characters was further diluted by Talos' death having little to no impact on Nick Fury. All of this retroactively softened the impact of Maria Hill's death in Episode 1.
4.) The MCU's Super Skrull
Skrulls in the MCU have been a unique experience, to say the least, and the idea of a Super Skrull ended up being a huge factor in the plot of Secret Invasion. How it ended was... a choice.
The traditional Super Skrull has four superpowers from the Fantastic Four. Gravik originally adapted an MCU version of that taking similar powers from established MCU characters. Awesome.
Then, the shark was jumped in the biggest way as both Gravik and G'iah (seemingly for no reason) gained the abilities of virtually every hero and villain in the history of the MCU. They applied zero subtlety to it as they showed the range from Drax to Mantis, to Thanos to turning G'iah into a remade Captain Marvel.
The worst offense of this overpowered character is that it left G'iah on the board. A character that has already had a less-than-stellar introduction into the MCU (see above) is now the most powerful player on the MCU roster.
The Superman problem has made its way to the MCU, but instead of the most iconic hero of all time... it's G'iah.
5.) She-Hulk Warned Marvel Studios About CGI
The irony of the final fight of this series is palpable. One of the biggest critiques of She-Hulk was that it was an unserious mockery of the established grounded storytelling of the MCU. Many believed Secret Invasion would be a return to form.
However, the commentary in the She-Hulk finale is how upsetting it is when a Marvel Studios show defaults to a big CGI-driven fight instead of focusing on the story being told. For Secret Invasion to be the grounded espionage story everyone was waiting for and ending with one of the most over-the-top CGI fights is insane.
The fact that She-Hulk so blatantly called attention to it is the cherry on top of a bummer sundae.
6.) Lack of Conclusion
Back to the script, this show does nothing for the characters involved other than kill off a few.
Nick Fury is right back up in space without finding the Skrulls a home or confronting Gravik in any way. While he may have exposed the Skrull invasion to the United States President, it leads to something arguably worse with vigilante terrorists killing anyone who might be a Skrull. This leads to the genocide of Skrulls and humans alike.
G'iah is off with Sonya Farnsworth to combat this initiative, seemingly putting her right back to where she started settling Skrull/Human relations. Only now, she is the most powerful character in MCU history.
When it comes down to it, the only real arch in this show was the love story between Nick Fury and Varra, something that would have been much better received in a show called "I Love Fury."
7.) The James Rhodes Situation
One of the things that worried people about Secret Invasion is that some key players may have been revealed to be Skrulls throughout events in the MCU. The main suspect was Nick Fury and his being a Skrull would have been a challenging notion, but it would have added so much to his already mysterious character.
Instead, Marvel Studios all but confirmed that James "Rhodey" Rhodes was a Skrull since the airport fight scene in Captain America: Civil War. The reason this is different is because this adds almost nothing to the character. There are few (if any) moments in Rhodes' past that fans can point at and gain value from the idea of him being a Skrull.
It largely takes away some of Rhodey's most impactful moments in the MCU. Rhodes was not there for the death and funeral of Tony Stark, a Skrull was. Rhodes was not the one who made the Baby Thanos joke, a Skrull did. Rhodes did not witness the creation of "Tony Stank," a Skrull did.
This is something that could have been left ambiguous and would have had the same impact on the Secret Invasion story. The showrunners seemingly went out of their way to define the timeline and raise all of these concerns for no reason other than shock value.
Harsh But Fair
The criticism of this show is not people being upset that their predictions didn't come true. It is not the unfair minority hate that so many other shows have previously gotten. And, for once, it is not about people expecting every MCU project to be as good as Avengers: Endgame.
This show made a multitude of decisions that raised more questions than answers and added little to no value to the viewing experience. It has been reported that director Ali Salim was asked not to read the Secret Invasion comics to tell an original story. Marvel Studios just forgot to tell him what the comic was about.
The studio cannot get this back. There is no world where fans get another chance to see the Secret Invasion storyline in the MCU.
For the hype, cast, source material, timing, and potential impact on the MCU future, Secret Invasion is one of the biggest busts in MCU history.