I don’t condone the use of torture. It’s a barbaric act that typically doesn’t even provide great intelligence results. I do, however, condone whatever it is Olivia Colman‘s Sonya Falsworth is doing in Secret Invasion, which unfortunately involves a lot of torture. In just the first two episodes of the Disney+ show, she has had her goons kidnap Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and systemically torn a Skrull’s body and mind apart. The worst of it is that I truly think the best part of Marvel‘s Secret Invasion so far has been watching Olivia Colman torture a Skrull. I wish more of this dreary, self-important series was about that and less about shape-shifting characters I haven’t gotten a chance to care about yet.
Secret Invasion is Disney+’s latest addition to the constantly expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe. It seems that the Skrulls, the shape-shifting alien refugees introduced in the ’90s-set Captain Marvel, have splintered into rival factions following the Blip. In Nick Fury’s absence, a young Skrull general named Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir) has radicalized the majority of his people who are fed up with living in secret decades after Fury promised to find them a new homeworld. Their solution? Take Earth. How? By infiltrating all levels of international government and sparking a destructive civil war.
Unfortunately, the first two episodes of Secret Invasion do little to solve the problem of “superhero fatigue” that’s currently hounding the genre. It’s a visually grim show, full of shades of grey and suffocating shadows. The script wastes time with repetition and, worse, fails to shock or awe. Episode 1 ends with the “fridging” of Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), a controversial death considering the MCU’s recent penchant for killing off its female leads. The acting is uniformly good, but there’s a lack of energy in every performance. Whether or not audiences have hit superhero fatigue is debatable — The Flash is a bomb, but Across the Spider-Verse a massive critical and commercial hit — the cast of Marvel’s Secret Invasion looks downright fatigued in their own show.
That is, everyone except Olivia Colman. Unlike her costars, who look as miserable as the performers in HBO’s Chernobyl, Colman seems to relish her role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She gives Sonya a delicious swagger, putting Samuel L. Jackson in his place or cutting the finger off of a Skrull prisoner. Don’t get me wrong: Colman’s character does some truly horrible things in order to extract information about Gravik’s terrorist cell. However, she commits these atrocities with gusto. There’s a spark of glee in her eye that is sadly wanting in the rest of the uneven series.
Maybe it’s not so much that I need to see Olivia Colman torture a Skrull in every single scene of Secret Invasion as much as I wish the rest of the cast attacked their roles with as much enthusiasm. Gravik and his followers are supposed to be revolutionaries, but they lack the passion to storm a coffee shop, much less a barricade. We’re repeatedly told that Nick Fury isn’t quite himself, but I guess that just means he’s lost Samuel L. Jackson’s trademark mojo.
I know Secret Invasion is a show about spies and Skrulls holding their real feelings close to their chest, but I wish the actors could have better dissembled their utter boredom with the scripts.
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