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Secret Invasion Season 1 Episode 1, “Resurrection,” begins with a confusing and misguided political commentary. It’s evident that this series is meant to be a slow-burn political thriller. Unfortunately, from the beginning, there are glaring flaws that bode poorly for the rest of the series. The premiere manages to fail both classic characters within the MCU as well as new ones. It’s tough to buy into this story that may have had some potential.
It’s difficult to talk about the series without addressing the troubling nature of the premise. Shape-shifting aliens infiltrating world governments may not raise any immediate red flags to the untrained eye. However, this is a deeply-rooted conspiracy theory that is part of the long, disgusting history of antisemitism. There’s an additional layer of cynicism, as the Skrulls are also meant to be intergalactic refugees. Watching them infiltrate human governments is more than a little alarming, to say the least.
In an age where antisemitism is on the rise, it’s concerning that Marvel would choose a storyline so close to conspiracy theories that are still prominent. Even if this isn’t the intention, this is an incredibly harmful signal that these types of stories are acceptable in the mainstream. Even if it’s not overt, the subtext is questionable. This story could be a commentary on this trope and subversion of a storyline that has caused so much pain and suffering through the generations.
Switching gears, this series should have been Nick Fury’s (Samuel L. Jackson) chance to shine. From the beginning, it’s clear he’s not going to be used to his full potential. He’s been a solid background character and the secret power behind the Avengers for years. He could be let loose here and given the chance to really delve deep into this character. This could be a final showcase for a character who definitely deserves his chance in the spotlight.
Secret Invasion Season 1 Episode 1, “Resurrection,” also continues the unsettling Marvel tradition of completely retconning female characters and stories. There could not possibly have been a worse or more anticlimactic way to say goodbye to Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), who has been the backbone of the Avengers for over a decade. Like too many of her female counterparts, she has remained a device for male stories within this universe without ever getting a chance in the spotlight on her own.
Sure, from a practical standpoint, Smulders probably wants to move on, which is understandable. That being said, her character still deserved a hero’s death. There is no Fury without Hill. In a franchise that has precious few non-male superheroes, it’s frankly sad to lose one of the few who have been with this team from the beginning. Like Black Widow before her, Agent Maria Hill has so many more stories to tell.
Ultimately, Secret Invasion is taking a dicey plotline and is not inspiring confidence that it has the ability to tell this story without attachment to stereotypes. While there may be some potential to further explore Fury in particular, the series feels like it’s already falling short in many ways. This isn’t even a question of superhero fatigue. The superhero fandom is alive and well; it’s just looking for compelling stories.
Secret Invasion streams Thursdays on Disney+.