The first reviews for Marvel's Secret Invasion just dropped, and they've certainly lowered our expectations. The series, which seems to have snuck up on some, debuts next Wednesday (June 21) on Disney Plus, and just had its premiere this week, followed by reviews dropping online.
Secret Invasion stars Samuel L. Jackson, back as Nick Fury — and looking to stop the titular conquest. The enemy are the shape-shifting Skrulls, whom he met in Captain Marvel. But Jackson is far from alone when it comes to star power: Emilia Clarke, Dermot Mulroney, Olivia Colman, Ben Mendelsohn, Don Cheadle, Martin Freeman and Cobie Smulders are all here.
On top of that, Secret Invasion was billed as a 'crossover event,' the kind of language that gets people hyped. But with the first reviews, we've gone from excited to wary.
But none of that explains if you should prioritize watching Secret Invasion next week. Here's what we've learned from the critics, with both the positive and negative reactions. Oh, and one note: critics were only shown the first two of six episodes.
Secret Invasion reviews: Why I'm worried
Daniel Feinberg at The Hollywood Reporter calls Secret Invasion "middling" and "a disappointment." He also notes "Unfortunately, the action in Secret Invasion peaks with [its] first scene," before saying "A third of the way through the series, though, Secret Invasion is less Cold War and more Generally Tepid Kerfuffle."
Meghan O'Keefe, at Decider, notes that one of Secret Invasion's early "fumbles" comes in "pacing, over-emphasizing how Fury is off his game with repetitive scenes. A fun drinking game would be to take a shot anytime someone tells Fury he hasn’t been the same since the Blip. You would soon be too hammered to catch any of Secret Invasion‘s many Marvel Easter eggs."
More damningly, Meghan writes "The scripts are flabby, the visuals uninspired. Five years ago, Secret Invasion would have been top-tier genre entertainment. Now it feels, like Fury, a few important steps behind the competition."
Ben Travers, of IndieWire, dryly slaps Secret Invasion's lack of ambition, writing "if “Secret Invasion” had any ambitions beyond fulfilling Disney’s content demands, the six-episode limited series could speak to plenty of relevant, real-world issues." He also condemns the series, echoing Feinberg as he writes "Nine shows into Marvel’s streaming experiment, we know what we’re getting, and “Secret Invasion” is nearly as disappointing as its predecessors — even when taken from a modified perspective."
Secret Invasion reviews: reasons for optimism
But since Secret Invasion earned a 72% Rotten Tomatoes score, there are positive reviews out there, and here are snippets of three that I find the most interesting.
Variety's Daniel D'Addario gave Secret Invasion the kind of praise that makes me interested in the six hours of storytelling we'll get, writing "Secret Invasion looks very much like its own beast, a genuine serial story within the lumbering Marvel apparatus. One wonders if, like the villainous creatures at its center, it’ll end up revealing its true form, but for now, its humanity makes for a pretty good look.
Rayyan, of The Cine Geek, brings up the one thing I was hoping for, tweeted that Secret Invasion "In terms of quality, feels like Marvel’s Andor. They also elaborated that it's because "it feels more human than anything else MCU recently."
Why I said “#SecretInvasion like Marvel’s #Andor” is because it feels like more thought and time were put into this show than others. There are very few weaknesses, and the actual filmmaking is top class, and most importantly it feels more human than anything else MCU recently https://t.co/Ie8QsrXuVJJune 14, 2023
Richard Newby at Empire rated Secret Invasion 4 out of 5 stars, and wrote "As one of the MCU’s most mature projects to date, Secret Invasion is a riveting, tense drama that gifts its actors with weighty material and encourages its audience to look beyond the sheen of superheroism."
Outlook: Secret Invasion still has to reveal itself
Two out of six episodes should be enough to get a solid read on a series, as you're basically watching the first act. That said, Secret Invasion, a story all about twists and reveals, could have plenty of surprise in its back four.
For now, though, I'd wager folks (unless you're worried about spoilers on social media) won't need to watch first thing in the morning, and can wait until Wednesday night or later to watch.