The ninth installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Secret Invasion, set to premiere on Disney+ on June 21st. Typically, I begin my reviews by providing some background on the comic book source material and delving into a comparison between the printed version and its on-screen adaptation. However, in this case, I must admit that my familiarity with the comic is rather limited.

The Skrulls, an alien species prominently featured in the pages of Fantastic Four and Avengers, were part of comic series that didn’t capture much of my interest during my formative years. While my fellow comic enthusiasts may regale you with captivating tales from sagas like the Kree-Skrull Wars, the motivations of the Super Skrull, or their involvement in the fall of the Shi’ar Empire, I am only acquainted with the key moments and highlights of these narratives.

Within the MCU, the Skrulls emerge as a shape-shifting alien race first introduced in Captain Marvel. Portrayed as a persecuted species, they seek refuge from their long-standing adversaries, the Kree Empire. Possessing the remarkable ability to assume the likeness of any individual, including their physical attributes and memories, the Skrulls excel as skilled infiltrators and spies.

Initially presented as antagonists, the audience is led to perceive them as a menace to Earth. However, the narrative takes an unexpected turn when the protagonist, Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), uncovers the truth that the Skrulls are not inherently malevolent, but rather victims of the Kree’s aggressive imperialism. It is revealed that certain Skrulls, notably Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) and his family, forge a friendly alliance with Earth, collaborating closely with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and S.H.I.E.L.D.

Secret Invasion unfolds in the aftermath of Spider-Man: Far From Home, where Nick Fury, having returned from his S.A.B.E.R. project, finds himself plunged into a perilous world of mistrust and deceit. His primary objective becomes unraveling the presence of Skrull impostors who have infiltrated influential positions within global governments.

At the helm of this conspiracy stands Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir), a Skrull rebel determined to seize control of Earth. Teaming up with allies former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and MI6 agent Sonya Falsworth (Olivia Colman), Fury embarks on a daring mission to expose the full extent of the invasion and safeguard Earth from imminent chaos. As the Skrulls’ hidden motives gradually come to light, tensions escalate, alliances are tested, and the heroes must grapple with the daunting challenge of distinguishing genuine allies from cunning foes.

(L-R): Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury in Marvel Studios’ SECRET INVASION, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Des Willie. © 2023 MARVEL.

Secret Invasion delves into profound themes of identity, loyalty and the far-reaching consequences of infiltration on a global scale. Tragedy strikes Talos as his wife, Soren, supposedly perishes in a rebel attack, leaving him burdened by profound pain and remorse for his inability to protect her. Meanwhile, their daughter, G’iah (Emilia Clarke), distances herself from both Talos and Fury, holding the latter responsible for failing to fulfill his promise of securing a new home for their Skrull race.

Fury, on the other hand, struggles to readjust to the demanding nature of his Earthly existence, attempting to maintain a semblance of retirement. Both heroes find themselves pushed to their limits, manipulated like marionettes by the cunning Gravik and his formidable army. Their personal journeys intertwine within the larger narrative, exploring the emotional toll, internal conflicts and sacrifices demanded in the face of an imminent threat.

In many ways, the show shares similarities with the Star Wars series, Andor. Both delve into mature themes surrounding government corruption. But instead of showcasing a rebellion fighting against a dictatorship, Secret Invasion takes an intriguing twist by focusing on a fringe group striving to establish a new world order.

This approach works well, as it doesn’t immediately position the audience against the antagonist. The character of Gravik, portrayed as a deranged individual intent on pushing the world toward nuclear war, possesses deeper motivations behind his madness. He was once a fervent believer in Nick Fury and Talos’ mission, but something along the way drastically alters his perspective, transforming him into a catalyst for chaos.

Across its six-episode debut season, the showrunners have emphasized their intention to explore this aspect in significant detail. While most viewers of Andor would never waver toward the dark side, Secret Invasion has the potential to sway thoughts and transform Gravik into a sympathetic antihero. This subtle, yet pivotal difference, may contribute to Secret Invasion becoming the sleeper hit that the MCU has longed for, since the success of WandaVision.

For any fan of the MCU, Secret Invasion is an absolute must-see series. Rumored to heavily influence upcoming MCU films like Armor Wars, this show seamlessly blends high-stakes political intrigue with the menacing presence of a shape-shifting alien warrior race. The combination, alone, makes it well worth subscribing to Disney+ to experience this captivating series firsthand.