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If Secret Invasion can’t end Marvel’s slump, what can?

Published Jun 14th, 2023 7:36PM EDT
Kingsley Ben-Adir as Rebel Skrull leader Gravik in Marvel Studios' Secret Invasion.
Image: Marvel Studios

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The early reviews for Secret Invasion are precisely the opposite of what Marvel needs.

Save for a few notable exceptions, Marvel’s post-Endgame run of movies and TV shows hasn’t lived up to expectations. Reviews aren’t everything, but the three worst-rated MCU movies of all time (via Rotten Tomatoes) all premiered in the last three years. Even the panache of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 didn’t do quite enough to fully restore my faith in the MCU, but I was hoping the new Disney Plus series Secret Invasion would.

It very well might, but I’m slightly more apprehensive after reading the early reactions from critics who saw the first two episodes. Here are some choice quotes from the reviews that went live on Wednesday ahead of the show’s premiere later this month:

  • “A tremendous cast, led by Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Olivia Colman and Don Cheadle, keeps things generally watchable and, when they’re given the opportunity to interact, you can spot the best version of the show. But for the most part, Secret Invasion is more dour and even dull than one might expect from its John le Carré/Graham Greene trappings.” – The Hollywood Reporter
  • “While this is clearly Marvel trying to tell a slow-burn espionage tale, there are some issues. For instance, the pacing of the first episode does not help set that tone. Instead of slowly bringing Secret Invasion to a boil, the initial installment tries to pack in so much that by the end of the episode, you feel like you’re been overwhelmed by plot.” – GameSpot
  • Secret Invasion also feels like exactly the sort of Marvel project that could end up falling into the trap of being too focused on previewing what’s coming next when what it really needs is to just work as a self-contained story.” – The Verge

Admittedly, there are positive reviews as well from the likes of Variety, Empire, and Collider, but what we don’t have is a consensus. Meanwhile, some reviews are just ruthless. The Telegraph calls the show “dull,” “cheap,” and “hard to follow.”

We’ll all have a chance to judge the show for ourselves when it debuts on Disney Plus on June 21, but it’s clear that Secret Invasion isn’t going to receive the near-universal praise of Avengers: Endgame or Spider-Man: No Way Home. So what will?

Coincidentally, the day before the Secret Invasion reviews dropped, Disney announced a huge shakeup for the MCU movie release schedule. Now, Deadpool 3 will be the next MCU movie to hit theaters after The Marvels bows this November. While this is largely due to production issues and the ongoing writers’ strike impacting so many projects, Marvel knows the pedigree of the Deadpool franchise. Not only did the first two movies combine to make $1.5 billion, but fans of all levels of familiarity with the character loved them unabashedly.

I don’t know when Marvel Studios is going to have a string of critical and commercial success to match that of Phase 3, but I’m betting the studio wants it to start with Deadpool 3.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.