SECRET INVASION Review: Psst! Humanity Is Threatened (Again)

Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn and Emilia Clarke star in the Marvel series, debuting on Disney Plus.

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas, US (@peteramartin)
SECRET INVASION Review: Psst! Humanity Is Threatened (Again)

Surprised? Not really.

Secret Invasion
The six-episode series premieres June 21, 2023, exclusively on Disney+. Subsequent episodes will premiere weekly. I've seen the first two episodes.

Fifteen years after the birth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), little remains to surprise except, perhaps, the actors and their performances in roles that are inherently thankless.

Everyone needs to work and/or wants to work, so who can begrudge any of the many talented actors who have done their best to execute their craft, knowing that they are all supporting players to the elaborate action sequences and visual effects that are the bread-and-butter of the ever-growing franchise.

Since Marvel Studios was established, Samuel L. Jackson has appeared as Nick Fury, a supporting character from Iron Man (2008) onward. Finally, he takes ostensible center stage in Secret Invasion, leading the battle against yet another threat to humanity.

Really, though, he remains a supporting player, as do all humans in the first two episodes of the series, acting as a flesh-and-blood buoy, an emotional touchpoint between the relentless action, adorned with a multitude of visual effects. So far, his primary role is to express his frustration that people (and alien creatures) refuse to listen to him or follow his commands or listen to his advice.

Earlier this year, the quite-terrible Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania kicked off the official "Phase Five" of the MCU; the film was evidently conceived during the pandemic so that it could be made entirely in a series of giant warehouses, with actors doing their best to bring life to the proceedings. I wasn't a big fan of Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3, either, despite writer/director James Gunn's evident creative ambitions for his characters.

It seems that Secret Invasion is predicated entirely on the idea that action of any kind is more important than human characters. Directed by Ali Selim, the action is relentless, though it's of the familiar, routine sort that typified the broadcast television sereis Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. It's not staged or filmed in a particularly eye-catching manner -- unlike, say, the first season of the Daredevil series or the entirety of the Moon Knight series -- and none of the sequences do much of anything to progress the narrative.

Sadly, the first two episodes of Secret Invasion hold precious little of interest on their own narrative merits. Created by Kyle Bradsheet, whose experience as a writer and producer includes the always-promising, often-delivering Mr. Robot and the distinctively furious Copper, it may well be that the remaining four episodes in the series will feature further development of Nick Fury and his personal life, which is hinted at in the first two episodes.

Or, it may that the characters played by Ben Mendelsohn and Emilia Clarke will add something more, beyond the conflicts that they've already enacted. For now, though, the series fits into my ever-growing Marvel 'meh' pile, which reflects my ambivalent feelings about a show I'll probably end up watching, just to see what happens.

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Ben MendelsohnEmilia ClarkeMarvelNick FurySamuel L. JacksonUS

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