OPINION: Marvel’s ‘Secret Invasion’ Wasted Gravik
WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR MARVEL’S SECRET INVASION.
It’s been a few weeks since the finale of Marvel’s Secret Invasion aired, Having had enough time to sit with my thoughts, I am ready to talk about what might be the studio’s most polarizing show to date. From a critical standpoint, Secret Invasion is a series that people either really liked or really hated. Some thought it was too slow and boring, while others appreciated that the MCU was doing something with a more serious tone. Personally, I’d say I’m in the camp of people who have mostly positive things to say about the show. However, I have to admit that it was similar to every other Marvel/Disney+ show so far in the way that it failed to stick the landing. In other words, the ending was absolutely unsatisfying.
Now, Secret Invasion follows Nick Fury as he investigates an invasion of shapeshifting aliens called Skrulls. Fury is no stranger to Skrulls. In fact, he vows to find a new home for the species after there planet is destroyed at the end of Captain Marvel, the film where they are first introduced and decriminialized. However, after thirty years of waiting and Fury deciding to leave Earth after the events of Endgame, the Skrulls become frustrated by the lack of progress. So instead of continuing to wait, they decide it’s time to take Earth as their home instead.
Leading them was a character called Gravik played by Kingsley Ben-Adir. And I really enjoyed Gravik as a villain thanks, in large part, to Ben-Adir’s performance. But the biggest disappointment for me was how the series finale handled the character.
In the second episode we see a flashback of how Fury and Gravik met. Gravik was a young child that Fury brought in as a soldier. He looked up to Fury. Based off of that I thought the show was going to play more into the idea of Fury viewing Gravik as a sort of adoptive son and vice versa. However, they never really do, for most of the first half of the series Gravik airs most of his grievances to Talos, played by Ben Mendelsohn. In the finale , Fury and Gravik finally have a true face off where Gravik just goes off on him. Pointing out that the man he’s impersonating was the first-person Fury made him kill. The longer it went on the more emotional he started to get an again it really felt like a son who felt like he had been betrayed by his father. But then the series pulls the rug out from under you to reveal that the confrontation is all a ruse because Fury isn’t Fury at all. Instead, Gravik is talking to Talos daughter G’iah played by Emilia Clarke.
I understand why they would have G’iah be the one to ultimately kill Gravik. For one, he killed both of her parents, so obviously she would want justice for that. Secondly, early on its revealed that she’s the only other Skrull who has healing powers similar to Gravik. So in this series, which refused to bring in any of the Avengers she’s the closest thing to a hero Fury has. What didn’t make sense, however, was how it was setup. The reveal that it’s actually G’iah sort of undermines the big emotional scene that just happened. Why did we bother giving Gravik a moment like that just to make it feel meaningless? Because of that Fury and Gravik never actually have a real confrontation. He never really apologizes to him for letting him down, nor does he get justice for Maria Hill’s death. Honestly, the way it plays out it really makes it seem like Fury never cared about Gravik, and that just felt odd to me.
Now, the reason I was enjoying Secret Invasion mostly came down to the performances. Samuel L. Jackson and Don Cheadle both gave their best performances in the MCU to date. Mendelsohn too! Clarke, Olivia Colman and Ben-Air were also welcome additions to the MCU. But the finale devolved into what people have criticized all the other shows for: a rushed fight. I saw some people online say that the Gravik fight was the exact type of thing that She-Hulk made fun of in her show, and I don’t think they’re wrong. I understand this series had already been written and filmed by the time She-Hulk was complete, but it seems odd for Marvel to point out such a massive flaw in its storytelling and then not actually attempt to fix it.
As much of a mixed bag Secret Invasion, I’m optimistic Marvel will continue to grow and improve as some of its other shows come out. Next up we have Echo and Daredevil. With the latter having the longest season for an MCU show to date, I doubt we’ll ever see a character with so much potential wasted again.