Secret Invasion review: The MCU enters a dark and thrilling new era

Samuel L. Jackson returns as Nick Fury in the Disney+ show

Secret Invasion (Disney+)
Samuel L. Jackson in Secret Invasion (Disney+)
  • 📺 Where to watch Secret Invasion: Premieres on Disney+ on Wednesday, 21 June and it will air weekly thereafter.

  • ⭐️ Our rating: 4/5

  • 🍿 Watch it if you liked: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Andor, Jack Ryan, Homeland

  • 🎭 Who's in it?: Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Emilia Clarke, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Olivia Colman, Cobie Smulders, Martin Freeman.

  • How long is it? 6 episodes, approximately one hour each.

  • 📖 What’s it about? Nick Fury has returned to Earth only to learn that the planet has been infiltrated by shape-shifting Skrulls, and it'll take all of his espionage skills to face their potential takeover.

For many, superhero fatigue has started to set in, not only with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) but for DC and Sony, too, as the franchises continue to add to its growing roster of characters and launch new stories at an exponential rate — so much so that even Marvel has realised it's better to give more breathing room between releases.

Read more: Actors with the most MCU appearances

So, how do you bring back an audience that is starting to take less of an interest in the tried and tested superhero formula? By doing something different, and new Disney+ series Secret Invasion is just what the MCU needed to achieve this.

Secret Invasion (Disney+)
Secret Invasion (Disney+)

Set in present day (whatever that means in the MCU), Nick Fury has been called back to Earth in order to address the rising threat of a Skrull insurrection. Since the events of Captain Marvel, the Skrulls have been refugees on Earth while Fury and Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) sought out a new home for them, but decades have gone by with no results.

Read more: Everything we know about The Marvels

Now, the aliens feel all but abandoned by their hosts, thus leading to civil unrest and a newfound desire to make Earth their home through a secret invasion led by Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir).

Fury will need to use all of his skills to stop it, and with the help of Skrull Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) and some of the other unsung heroes of the MCU, like Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), he just might.

Secret Invasion (Disney+)
Secret Invasion (Disney+)

Fury is not the man we once knew, though, and Jackson is mesmerising in this new chapter of the character's life. He has been given an arc that he can truly sink his teeth into, and we learn more about Fury and his motivations in the first two episodes than we ever have since his debut in 2008's Iron Man.

It is also thrilling to see characters like Maria get their chance to shine and be more than just a sidekick to the MCU's superheroes, while newcomer Ben-Adir has the makings of an incredible MCU villain.

Emilia Clarke has some moving moments with Mendelsohn too when their characters, Talos and G'iah, are forced to face their shared history in emotional ways.

Secret Invasion is one of the MCU's darkest projects to date (it comes with a parental guidance warning), and unlike recent light-hearted series like She-Hulk: Attorney at Law or Ms Marvel this show navigates a more mature space and it will delight fans of spy thrillers. By bringing the franchise back to a more realistic place it grounds the MCU in ways it hasn't been in years.

Secret Invasion (Disney+)
Secret Invasion (Disney+)

The drama is also certainly the most violent MCU project to date. It doesn't pull its punches, literally, as the Skrull rebel uprising takes some shocking turns, and even Olivia Colman's Sonya Falsworth uses gruesome methods to get information she needs.

What other critics thought of Secret Invasion:

The Telegraph: Samuel L Jackson seems as fed up with Marvel as the rest of us (3-min read)

The Wrap: Samuel L. Jackson Returns to the MCU in a Disney+ Series With Few Surprises (5-min read)

Evening Standard: Maybe it’s time for a well-deserved retirement (4-min read)

This is a show clearly aimed at adults, and it is thrilling that the MCU is trying its hand at something with real weight to it, with real consequences.

Secret Invasion feels like Marvel's answer to Andor, and should the Disney+ show continue to go down this dark path then it will welcome an exciting new era for the MCU.

Secret Invasion premieres on Disney+ on Wednesday, 21 June.

Watch the trailer for Secret Invasion.