This article contains spoilers for the Invincible comic and Amazon Prime series.
Thanks to more than a decade of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, post-credit scenes are a matter of course in superhero film and TV properties. They’ve become so pervasive and routine that, at this point, it would take something truly revelatory to shock viewers. Well…here comes Amazon Prime’s Invincible and a certain Nolan Grayson a.k.a. Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons).
This animated series, adapted from Robert Kirkman’s comic of the same name, opts to not only include a post-credit scene at the end of its first episode…it includes damn near a whole new post-credit episode! “It’s About Time” concludes with Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun) suiting up and announcing his new “Invincible” monniker to some villains, sending the show to its end credits around the 37-minute mark. But there still remains a staggering 10 minutes to the episode’s run time.
In those 10 minutes, Invincible reveals one of the series’ biggest twists: Mark’s dad Nolan a.k.a. Omni-Man is a real asshole. Remember that exciting casting announcement surrounding Invincible’s Justice League parody superhero team, the Guardians of the Globe? Well, they’re all dead now.
The whole crew is summoned to a remote superhero location by Nolan and then violently…and we mean violently murdered by the Viltrumite “hero”. The superheroes we lose in this sudden, stunning carnage include: Darkwing (Lennie James), War Woman (Lauren Cohan), Red Rush (Michael Cudlitz), Martian Man (Chad L. Coleman), Green Ghost (Sonequa Martin-Green), Aquarus (Ross Marquand), and The Immortal (also Marquand).
The Walking Dead star power at play in voicing these characters along with the novelty of them being closely aligned to DC Justice Leaguers (Darkwing is Batman, War Woman is Wonder Woman, and so on), provide solid cover for the length of the post-credit sequence. A viewer could be forgiven for assuming that the 10-minute running time means that every Invincible episode will end with another chapter in the whimsical adventures of the Guardians of the Globe.
Welp, it obviously won’t because they’re all dead now. This raises some obvious questions, of course. Why would Mark’s dad go on such an unrepentant killing spree of heroes, including an Oberyn Martell style eye-bursting for Red Rush? According to Kirkman, it’s partly about keeping the genre fresh.
“I think that moment at the end of the pilot is meant to be a little eye-opening and…oh, I even made it to a pun there. But it definitely sets the stage for the show,” Kirkman tells Den of Geek and several other outlets during the show’s press day.
In Kirkman’s original comic series, the Omni-Man reveal doesn’t take place until issue #7. Still, that is quite early in the series’ lengthy 144-issue run. Positioning the violent, unexpected moment so soon sets an unnerving tone for what’s to come. Kirkman (who remains on as a producer and writer) wants to capture that same momentum for Amazon’s adaptation.
“At the end of the episode, you really know what you’re in for. You know what kind of show we are,” Kirkman says. “I’m really happy with how that sequence turned out. I have a version of it on my phone and I watch it over and over on a loop.”
The post-credit scene twist in episode 1 is so enormous and unsettling that it seems impossible for any show to continue on after it. And yet, we know Invincible does just that since the show premiered its first three episodes on March 26 and is set to release the remaining five in the weeks to come.
The two episodes immediately after the evil Omni-Man twist don’t fully reveal Nolan’s motivations. In fact, Mark’s dad proves to be an exceptional actor, comforting those around him (save for Mark one noticeable heartless slipup) and even delivering a sermon at the Guardians’ funeral. The voice behind Nolan, J.K. Simmons, theorizes that it’s easy for the ultra task-oriented Viltrumite to keep his mind off of what he’s done.
“Whatever is going on subtextually, I think it’s important to (Nolan) to be able to continue with his mission in life and to focus on the task at hand. Especially because, let’s face it, dudes can’t multitask anyway,” Simmons says.
But what is going on with Nolan subtextually? Is he the big bad he appears to be? Or was it somehow the Guardians who were compromised and Nolan who had the unenviable task of taking them down? The answer will likely come shortly. It does so in the Invincible comics in issue #11. If you’d like to know it, read on, but be forewarned that the following paragraphs will contain extreme spoilers for what’s to come in the Amazon series. In fact, let’s go ahead and throw up another spoiler tag.
The following contains major comic spoilers for Invincible.
Remember the story that Nolan told Mark about his Viltrumite race and the planet Viltrum they hail from? According to Nolan, the all-powerful Viltrumites travel the galaxy looking for new alien races to help survive and thrive in a big, scary universe.
Well, Nolan’s story is kind of true. The Viltrumites are prolific travelers of the cosmos. Only they don’t visit new civilizations to help them, they do so to conquer them and incorporate them into the Viltrum Empire. The Viltrumites are warrior culture singularly obsessed with strength and dominance. They have subjugated and colonized countless civilizations across the galaxy.
For Nolan’s mission on Earth, however, the Viltrumites are experimenting with a new form of conquering. Nolan has 500-some years to incorporate himself into human society and slowly weaken it over time, making it ripe for the incoming Viltrumite invasion. In this mission, Nolan soon discovered that Earth was particularly susceptible to intergalactic threats. It seemed as though some big alien monster or interdimensional terror was rampaging across the planet. So Nolan picked up the role of a superhero to ensure that no enemy could destroy the human race before the Viltrumites had their chance to come and subjugate them.
Viltrumite lifespans are so long and their abilities so powerful, that the human beings around Nolan are little more than ants…up to and including his wife and Mark’s mother, Deborah. The only other creature on Earth that matters to Nolan is Mark. He is to be an ally for Viltrum and a partner in his father’s takeover of Earth.
That’s right: Mark Grayson has a Darth Vader pitch to rule the galaxy incoming soon from his father. It will certainly sound impressive coming from J.K. Simmons, but Mark will be devastated all the same.
Invincible continues to stream weekly episodes every Friday on Amazon Prime.