Marvel’s Secret Invasion is enforcing a harmful trope

The second episode of Marvel’s Secret Invasion is streaming now and it continues to enforce a harmful trope about refugees. Spoilers!


Warning: this article contains spoilers for Secret Invasion episode 2. 

There’s been very little hype or fanfare for Marvel’s latest TV show, Secret Invasion. And what has been written about it, hasn’t been very kind

The show follows Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) as he learns that an alien species, the Skrulls, have invaded Earth. A Skrull terrorist Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir) is planning on doing whatever it takes to claim Earth as the Skrulls’ new home.

Secret Invasion is structured more like a political thriller than a science-fiction show about an alien race taking over. It seems to be Marvel’s answer to Andor, a much more serious and darker take on Marvel’s style.

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Samuel L. Jackson portrays Nick Fury in the MCU. Credit: Marvel Studios

But episode two, titled ‘Promises’, pushes the series’ slightly concerning premise to full-blown problematic territory. 

Before someone yells at me, let me just say this: I am fully aware that Secret Invasion is based on a comic book storyline and the narrative is dictated by said comic book run. I also think there was a better way to do it. 

As we know, the Skrulls are refugees in our world, forced to relocate from their home world of Skrullos after the devastating Skrull-Kree war. In Captain Marvel, which is due to get its sequel this year, there was a lot of sympathy towards the Skrulls, but that sympathy seems to be wearing thin in Secret Invasion

In ‘Promises’, Gravik meets with a council of sorts. The British prime minister is present as is the commander of NATO and a news anchor, all of whom are revealed to be Skrulls. They elect Gravik as their new general, bowing down to his extremist ideology. 

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The Skrulls are intergalactic refugees. Credit: Marvel Studios

Sure, the Skrulls are green aliens, but the overall story in Secret Invasion is that these refugees have snuck into our world and infiltrated our governments, posing a threat to (Western) society. Not very progressive or true to life, is it? 

The Skrulls, refugees from a war-torn world, are presented here as mimicking real humans, masking their true identities and intentions. We didn’t even know they were here! Nick Fury is shocked to learn the Skrulls have all relocated to Earth and are hiding in plain sight. Millions of literal alien refugees (even writing that feels icky) want our planet for theirs. 

Gravik is obviously presented as a terrorist and an extremist; the episode’s opening gives us a flashback of young Gravik meeting Nick Fury, who vows to find the Skrulls another home. A promise we know he wasn’t able to keep, leading to the events of Secret Invasion and Gravik’s hatred towards humans. 

Of course, Secret Invasion has only premiered two episodes out of a total of six, so there’s still plenty of time to find more empathy for the Skrulls. To make things more palatable, Talos (Ben Mendelsohn, reprising his role from Captain Marvel), the one good Skrull, is mostly seen in his human form as is his daughter G’iah (Emilia Clarke) who is currently siding with Gravik, but as she searches to answers to what Gravik is building, she is clearly doubting his violent strategies. 

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Ben Mendelsohn plays Talos, a friendly Skrull. Credit: Marvel Studios

All these elements from ‘Promises’ form an uneasy message about refugees. Just two weeks ago, 78 people died and hundreds are missing after a boat full of refugees capsized. The event was barely covered in the press, which drew criticism, especially after the extensive coverage for the missing Titan submarine. Whether Secret Invasion can somehow turn its troubling narrative around remains to be seen. 

Secret Invasion premieres new episodes every Wednesday on Disney+. 

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