The movie Captain Marvel (2019) revealed the existence of the Skrulls, aliens capable of changing their appearance to take on that of a human, for example. Initially perceived as threatening, they are, we learn, an orphan people since the destruction of their planet by the Kree. Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) and Nick Fury promise to find them a new one, but invite them to remain incognito on Earth in the meantime. The Blip – Thanos’ finger snap in Avengers: Infinity War that wiped out half of all living things in the universe for five years – slows the process down, however. A long Nick Fury mission to a space base also contributes to the delay. Growing impatient, rebellious Skrulls led by Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir) settle in a former nuclear power plant in Russia and prepare to fight the humans for control of Earth.

During the Secret Invasion Crafters Virtual Press Conference, the term “grounded” was uttered many times. It doesn’t translate so easily, because “anchored” or “established” doesn’t exactly match the intended meaning. Thus, we asked the director of the six episodes, Ali Selim (Sweet Land, In Treatment), to give us his definition. “I like human stories that have a universal impact rather than stories that want to have a universal impact and seek the human aspect,” he says at the outset. This story is about Nick Fury, a man who can’t fly. He returns to Earth, a little older, a little dropped, disoriented by the Blip. Despite everything, he must accomplish the mission he has given himself. This is the kind of story I like to tell, because I can do it with empathy. »

Since announcing the series in 2020, Marvel Studios has been promising a similar tone to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, one of the MCU’s most acclaimed films. Secret Invasion is inspired by a series of eight comics of the same name launched between June 2008 and January 2009. This one, however, includes many more characters. “Reading the script, I retained the themes of mistrust, suspicion, paranoia as well as that of the solitary figure who questions himself philosophically,” says Ali Selim. I dove back into film noir, such as The Third Man (Carol Reed), The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola) and Alan Pakula’s paranoid trilogy: Klute, The Parallax View and All the President’s Men. The tension created in these works inspired me. The director points out that the series will evolve in a way that evokes classic American Westerns, such as John Ford’s The Searchers and Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven.

La Presse was able to view the first two episodes of Secret Invasion. The enormous talent of the actors is put to good use. Scenes between Samuel L. Jackson and Olivia Colman, Ben Mendelsohn and then Don Cheadle are already some of the finest moments of “pure cinema” in the MCU. “It’s a group made up of some of our best living actors. My job was simply to give them the conditions so that they could offer the best of them, says Ali Selim. Several scenes show two people talking, like in the theatre. Our goal was to find the emotional truth in these moments. The director, who says he has developed a strong bond with Ben Mendelsohn, remarks that the Australian actor “can’t help but expose this truth”. “Being in the same room as Emilia Clarke when she works is a privilege. I also feel privileged to have witnessed the electricity generated by Samuel L. Jackson and Don Cheadle, who had wanted to share a stage together for years,” he added.

After two episodes, Secret Invasion is very well launched. The sequel will be decisive, because the plot is only barely revealed for the moment. It would be surprising if a major tone-break occurred, so it’s safe to say that this is the MCU’s most serious and darkest series yet. There is tension and action. The special effects are successful, but we wonder why the Skrulls can change the appearance of their clothes in addition to their bodies… Without repeating ourselves, the cast is truly exceptional. So much so that the performance of actors other than those already mentioned sometimes seems weaker. This is not the case of Kingsley Ben-Adir who is particularly convincing in Skrull with boundless determination. He is downright intimidating.