Secret Invasion–Latest Disney Marvel series begins with a strong Cold War vibe

Review by C.J. Bunce

A plot that pulls from John Carpenter’s They Live and Alien Nation.  Scenes that tap cool vibes from SPECTRE and Fallen.  And stakes like Marvel hasn’t delivered on the small screen before.  The first episode of Marvel’s long overdue Nick Fury series has landed.  With a slow-burning set-up like a 1980s Cold War spy movie, Secret Invasion is poised to be the biggest series from Marvel yet.  Is Samuel L. Jackson giving us the TV counterpart to Logan, the greatest comic book movie of them all?

Logan saw genius inspiration in its script, with brilliant performances by Patrick Stewart as retired Professor Charles Xavier, and Hugh Jackman as Old Man Logan.  Jackson’s Nick Fury has defined the Marvel Cinematic Universe from the beginning.  His headliner movie despite its title and title character was Captain Marvel, and Secret Invasion takes over thirty years later, after the Blip, after Endgame, after several boring series like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. 

Fury is battle-damaged and war-weary when viewers catch up with him, in self-exile on a space station called SABER, the latest goofy SPECTRE copy after the likes of SHIELD and SWORD.  It sounds like the strategic defense initiative aka Star Wars, which takes the Cold War themes full circle back to the 1980s.

The stakes raised in the pilot, without revealing the specifics, is the big gut-check one-sixth of the way into this journey.  It’s unfortunate, but it’s finally Marvel looking like it means business again.

Accompanying Old Man Fury is the brilliant Ben Mendelssohn back again, but this time as Old Man Talos.  A rebel faction of Skrulls–the Alien race Fury vowed to re-home–has infiltrated Earth and is readying to terrorize the planet for failing to deliver on Fury’s promise.  One of those rebels is Talos’s own daughter, played by Marvel newcomer Emilia Clarke, a positively perfect addition to the MCU.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been struggling to get its footing since the first decade wrapped in the two-part Infinity War/Endgame finale.  But this new series has some components going for it that could make it a stand-out among the movies and series in the MCU’s grand Phase V.  In fact, other than a second season of Tom Hiddleston as Loki and Charlie Cox breathing some life into what was a bland and boring Netflix series with a new Daredevil movie restart, we someday may be looking back at Secret Invasion as the best of all forthcoming Phase V entries.  It’s poised to be something great.  So, Marvel, don’t screw this up.
The first issue… er, episode of Secret Invasion is now streaming on Disney+, with new episodes arriving Wednesdays.

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