Secret Invasion is Desperately Missing One Crucial Avenger
Marvel may have jumped the gun with Secret Invasion.
Two episodes into its run, Secret Invasion is turning out to be a bit of a mixed bag. The show’s attempt to combine the slight campiness of Captain Marvel with the espionage edge of Captain America: The Winter Soldier has proven to be predictably uneven, but its focus on long-underserved Marvel Cinematic Universe characters like Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), and James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) has been welcome. More than anything, Secret Invasion has suffered greatly from the weight of the MCU’s established canon.
As only the second Skrull-centric MCU title to date, Secret Invasion has been put in the position of having to bridge the gap between the happy ending of Captain Marvel and the dark political state of its present-day story. The series hasn’t done that particularly well up to this point. So far, it’s been forced to retcon Nick Fury’s brief cameo in 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home and try to establish emotional stakes in several of its characters’ personal stories that haven’t landed all that well.
By the time its second episode comes to an end, it’s clear that Marvel may have committed to a Secret Invasion adaptation sooner than it should have. In doing so, the studio also may have missed a major opportunity for its current, post-Endgame phase of the MCU.
At the end of Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) agrees to personally lead the Skrulls on a journey through space to find a new home. It’s an optimistic conclusion, one that not only explains why one of the MCU’s most powerful heroes has been missing from Earth for 30 years but also sets Carol up as a cosmic hero who is committed to taking care of those in need throughout the galaxy. In Secret Invasion, we learn the latter point isn’t totally true.
The Disney+ series’ second episode reveals that Carol’s efforts ended in disaster. Despite that fact, Nick Fury apparently promised to still find them a new home one day in return for their help defending Earth. To call this a jarring continuation of Captain Marvel’s story would be an understatement. It doesn’t line up and it makes both Fury and Carol Danvers look really, really bad. Right now, it feels like a direction Marvel chose to take the Skrulls’ story in solely so that it could produce its own adaptation of Secret Invasion — not because it’s a natural continuation of Captain Marvel’s ending.
The frustrating thing is that Secret Invasion’s Skrull plot didn’t have to fall this flat. The comic book story could, in fact, have made an interesting overarching plot for a Captain Marvel trilogy. After establishing Carol and Fury’s promise in 2019’s Captain Marvel, a sequel to that film could have explored the off-screen difficulties that the Skrulls and their so-called protectors faced in space, which are briefly described in Secret Invasion Episode 2. Having that film then end with Fury’s agreement with the Skrulls could have laid the groundwork for a future Secret Invasion turn.
Spreading out the MCU’s Skrull storyline in that way could have made its Secret Invasion culmination feel far more powerful. It also could have resulted in a Captain Marvel trilogy that would not only be thematically and narratively cohesive, but one that compellingly explores the fallibility and shortsightedness of some of the MCU’s most reliable heroes. Instead, what we’ve gotten is a show that feels clunky and undercooked, and which cuts Carol Danvers out of a story that she should have far more involvement in.
After establishing the Skrulls as a key part of Captain Marvel’s story, it’s strange to see the powerful hero have no role in Secret Invasion. Marvel Studios’ decision to make The Marvels a team-up film rather than an organic continuation of the first Captain Marvel additionally feels emblematic of many of the problems with the MCU’s fourth and fifth phases. As fun as the prospect of seeing Brie Larson’s Carol, Teyonah Parris’ Monica Rambeau, and Iman Vellani’s Kamala Khan onscreen together is, The Marvels feels like the kind of hard pivot that is of a piece with Phase 5’s scattered direction.
The franchise’s world has certainly expanded a lot over the past few years, but Marvel has yet to prove that there’s been any real, careful planning behind its rapid expansion. Indeed, in a time when the MCU is in need of more ongoing, Captain America-esque trilogies, it’s disappointing to see Marvel pass up the opportunity presented by Captain Marvel’s ending in favor of a rushed Disney+ event series that is stuck trying to do a whole lot with very little.