REVIEW: Nick Fury is Finally Back in Episode 5 of ‘Secret Invasion’…and That Might Be the Problem

If you’ve been watching Marvel Studios’ latest Disney Plus streaming series, Secret Invasion, it may have come to your attention that Nick Fury just isn’t himself these days. As the audience has all too often been reminded by everyone in the show that knows him, Fury hasn’t been the same since the Blip. However, as the consequences of Fury’s secrets have continued to come back to haunt him–and potentially the entire human race–glimmers of the old spy have begun to shine through and, as of the end of the latest episode, it seems that yeah, Fury is thinking he’s back. But did Fury’s return come too late?!?!

Not to put too fine a point on it but the answer is no. And being able to answer that question ahead of the series’ finale is, as Samuel L. Jackson might certainly put it, a mother fucker. As wonderful as Jackson’s performance has been, including the unforgettable scenes he shared with Ben Mendelsohn and the chemistry he continues to share with the criminally underutilized Olivia Colman, Secret Invasion continues to be more about Fury’s past–which by proxy includes the collective past of the MCU–and the bind that puts him into in the present. However, because the Nick Fury and MCU are known to have a future beyond Secret Invasion, the audience already knows the score: despite taking heavy body blows, Fury’s going to Rocky Balboa Gravik’s “Skrull ass” and save the day. We know this because Fury is alive and well in The Marvels. We know this because there’s no way the Marvel Studios Parliament greenlit a project (Armor Wars) about Skrull Rhodey. While that doesn’t mean there might not be some surprises in the finale (after all who among us was not both completely surprised and thrilled to see that one character from Black Widow show up?), the finale pretty much writes itself and that makes anticipation for it a bit low and the buzz around it will likely be a bit dull.

Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury in Marvel Studios’ SECRET INVASION, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Des Willie. © 2023 MARVEL.

I love playing him, and I love the fact that they’re opening him up to all these other possibilities and this whole life that he has. So hopefully I’m not done, and in this new phase of the MCU I’ll still be floating in and out of there somehow, some way.

Samuel L. Jackson on Nick Fury

That’s not to say that Secret Invasion hasn’t excised a pound of flesh or two from Fury. Over the course of the first five episodes, he’s lost his longest standing ally in Talos, his right hand in Maria Hill and had to come face-to-face with the idea that even he is fallible. But for Secret Invasion to truly matter, the events of it must change the man known as Nick Fury and set him on a new path just as the events of Captain America: The Winter Solider did for Steve Rogers. The good news is that it would seem Jackson has no interest in walking away from the role of Fury which means the next 4-5 years could pay off the investment fans of the MCU have put into Secret Invasion and, to be fair, that’s exactly what Marvel Studios One Above All, Kevin Feige, sold to fans when the first wave of Disney Plus series were first announced.

Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury in Marvel Studios’ SECRET INVASION, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Gareth Gatrell. © 2023 MARVEL.

These episodes will intersect with the movies in a very big way,” Feige told Variety in a 2019 inteview. “It’s a totally new form of storytelling that we get to play with and explore. It’s the first long-form narrative that Marvel Studios has done — they’ll be six episodes, eight episodes, 10 episodes with the actors from the films playing their characters. They’ll be changing, evolving, growing in those event series and then those changes will be reflected in their next film appearances,” Feige explained. So while fans continue to wait for each of these series to be “the next big thing”, Feige could easily quote Dennis Green and remind fans that “they are what we thought they were.” But therein may lie the problem with Nick Fury in Secret Invasion. If the finale simply reinstalls old Nick Fury into the MCU, which is what the whole series has been preparing fans for, then there’s been no change, no evolution and no growth. If the Nick Fury who appears in The Marvels hasn’t been irrevocably changed by the events of Secret Invasion, then it will be fair to judge the series as a failure.

As for the rest of the episode, it’s a bit of a microcosm of the series as a whole. Like the deaths of Maria Hill and Talos before him, Pagan’s death at the hands (?) of Gravik was weightless. It’s hard to think of a supporting character in any of the MCU series that was as impotent as Pagan; seemingly every action undertaken by the character, even his death, would have had the same impact on the series if it happened off screen or didn’t happen at all. For all the razzle dazzle of G’iah becoming a Super Skrull, she participated in a good old-fashioned shootout with the meanie Skrulls rather than Super Skrulling and the same can be said of Gravik who resorted to his hand-to-hand combat skills to kill the mutinous meanies Skrulls. Given the importance of the Kl’rt in the comics, to see the idea of Super Skrulls relegated to a few cheap VFX scenes makes the entire idea feel squandered. Even the episode’s McGuffin, The Harvest–an idea that has circulated since Thor’s blood lingered around during the Battle of New York seen in The Avengers–seems stripped of any real danger around it since Fury’s plan to give it to Gravik will certainly resolve in some way other than a bunch of Avenger-powered baddie Skrulls trotting around the Earth. As far as pentultimate episodes go, “The Harvest” came up short but with one episode left to go, there’s still time before the impact of Secret Invasion can truly be judged.

Source: Empire, Variety

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