The reviews are coming in for Marvel’s Secret Invasion are coming in and the picture is… confusing. So confusing, in fact, that there could be something interesting here. As of around 8:00 this morning UK time Secret Invasion sits at a paltry (6.9/10) on Rotten Tomatoes. OK, so you could think that tells you all you need to know. This view is cemented by Metacritic, where it sits at 67/100. This leaves it towards the bottom of the Marvel TV pile, around the level of The Punisher, and lagging behind the 80 / 90 scores of Loki and Daredevil.
Then when you start to dig into those reviews, things get interesting. Let’s start with this one:
“The Marvel Cinematic Universe still has the ability to produce great stories (case in point being She-Hulk, a truly unique time), but stories like this one take themselves too seriously. A series such as this one, where there are none of the traditional heroes from the other parts of the MCU, could benefit greatly from a story less convoluted that invites the performers to have more time to ground their characters.”
Tyler Doster, Awards Watch
So it is a story that takes itself seriously and is the polar opposite to She-Hulk? Well, leaving aside the fact that this reviewer refers to She-Hulk in glowing terms, and therefore their opinions are invalid, anything in the MCU finally taking things at least a little seriously again, and opposite to She-Hulk, immediately sounds worth checking out. Dig a little bit further and you start to see a theme developing:
“For now, ‘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.”
Daniel D’Addario, Variety
“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.”
Richard Newby, Empire
“Despite a meandering start, chilling spy story Secret Invasion breaks free from the Marvel mould, promising to be an exciting chapter with a stand-out turn from a wildly entertaining Olivia Colman.”
Emily Murray, Total Film
Well just hold on a minute here. This sounds…. good. These are three real reviewers in proper publications. And this is Marvel in a phase that has brought us Thor: Love And Thunder, Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania, and disappointment. As I have said numerous times, the best thing Disney has done with Star Wars since their acquisition is Andor. That show did something completely different and also takes itself seriously. Does the MCU have an Andor on its hands here with Secret Invasion? Even the negative reviews inadvertently sound promising:
“For the most part, Secret Invasion is more dour and even dull than one might expect from its John le Carré/Graham Greene trappings.”
Dan Fienberg, THR
Graham Greene? John le Carré? And you are saying this like it is a bad thing? One of the greatest espionage writers of all time, and another frequently hailed as one of the finest novelists of the 21st century.
Maybe they have. Maybe the last two phases of the MCU, and the decline from the exceptional high of the end of the Infinity Saga, has simply trained audiences to have only one mode. Perhaps the quip-a-tronic, lacking all tension and stakes approach of the MCU since Endgame means that audiences can’t think outside the box anymore? Is that why the reviews are so low? Pre-programmed normos wanting more She-Hulk can’t get it?
Or… and this could happen, Secret Invasion could actually just be shit. But these reviews make it seem like it could be worth finding out for ourselves, right?
The six-episode Secret Invasion starts on Disney+ from June 21st.
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