Secret Invasion Explained: How the Marvel Disney+ Series Differs from the Comics

Upcoming Disney+ crossover event series Secret Invasion is ripped from the pages of Marvel Comics. But, as always, the MCU is putting its own spin on things!

Marvel's Secret Invasion Trailer

This article contains Secret Invasion comic book spoilers

News concerning the future projects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe might have been thin on the ground at this year’s D23 Expo, but at the Marvel Studios panel audiences got their first glimpse of the exciting Disney+ show Secret Invasion. Described as a ‘televised crossover event,’ the series takes its name and elements of its narrative from the original comic book arc. 

Not everyone will be familiar with the story of the alien invasion on the page, though. Considering the many changes that the MCU has made to its lore in comparison to the comics, there are sure to be some shifts in how this graphic novel narrative will be adapted. So, what was the original Secret Invasion about, and how much of it will actually make its way to the screen? 

Comic Book Story

The title for Secret Invasion goes a long way in explaining the general theme of the initial story. The comic book narrative was a much larger event that spanned across multiple ongoing titles at the time. Its central focus was an alien threat who had embedded themselves in our everyday lives. The shape-shifting Skrulls had developed a new technique to become undetected. They hid in plain sight, with many of their operatives becoming sleeper agents, never knowing the truth of their alien origins. 

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The Skrulls didn’t just swap out some Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, or senior government officials. They infiltrated the very core of the Avengers, replacing well-known heroes like Spider-Woman, Ant-Man and Elektra. Every level of Earth-616, from the Initiative to the Fantastic Four, were impacted on some level, with the story becoming drawn out as the truth of the invasion unravelled. It also went a long way to explain some of the unlikely behaviors that contributed to the conflicts of the previous crossover event, Civil War. 

The Skrulls were driven to serve their God Kly’bn (a being that Hercules’ God Squad attempted to kill), who they referred to as simply ‘him.’ They were led by their Queen, Veranke, who hid in the guise of Jessica Drew, manipulating events as a double agent. Much like any Marvel story, the invasion was thwarted, despite how successful the Skrulls had been in their initial planning. While Nick Fury led his team of Secret Warriors to help turn the tide, a device was developed to help identify the real Skrulls. This would ultimately lead to their downfall, but intriguingly it was Norman Osborn who fired the final shot after the Earth’s mightiest heroes did battle with their enemies in the Savage Land and New York. 

Implications of Secret Invasion 

The invasion would have massive ramifications for the future of the Marvel Universe, rebuilding some of the broken bridges from the Civil War. There was a significant amount of distrust among the heroes after their world was flipped upside-down, thanks to the trouble of truly identifying one another. Tony Stark and Jessica Drew in particular struggled with the psychological effects of the takeover. Those who were replaced, like Hank Pym, attempted to reclaim their identities after their imposters had lived their lives. 

But for the heroic landscape, nothing was the same. With Osborn hailed as a hero for killing Veranke, a new administration was put in place. The former Green Goblin would take the responsibilities once held by Iron Man after the Civil War, forming a new security service. The era known as Dark Reign would begin, with the rise of corrupt institutions like the Cabal, Thunderbolts, Dark Avengers and H.A.M.M.E.R. indicating a turning of the tide. 

Thus, Secret Invasion is a pivotal storyline within recent comic book history. Its adaptation to the Marvel Cinematic Universe shouldn’t be taken lightly, but it certainly wouldn’t be simple to take these larger threads and directly inject them on the small screen. 

D23 Secret Invasion Trailer

The D23 Secret Invasion trailer gave audiences its first look at how Disney and Marvel might be attempting to take this sprawling saga into their own shared universe. The tone was clear from the start, with the Disney+ series reflecting the kind of espionage thriller style that fans might be familiar with from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It fits the story well, but there was a very limited look at the characters that would be involved. There’s an indication from the teaser that the wider MCU will be affected, with Martin Freeman’s Everett K. Ross, Ben Mendelsohn’s Talos, Don Cheadle’s James Rhodes, and Cobie Smulders’ Maria Hill all making appearances. But how many more famous faces will make a cameo and potentially turn out to be a Skrull? 

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While Olivia Coleman and Emilia Clarke’s roles are still currently under wraps, it’s likely that one of them will be taking on the part of Veranke. A Godly connection to their goal is unlikely, but Fury’s reconnection with Hill might be the first tease that his band of Secret Warriors from the comics could be making an appearance. If that is the case, could this herald the return of characters from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., most notably Chloe Bennet’s Daisy Johnson who is part of the source material’s team? 

Differences from Source Material 

It’s fair to say that besides the basic premise of an alien invasion and some of the characters involved, the similarities between the MCU and the comic variation of the storyline are few and far between. Regardless of how many cameos are included, right now it doesn’t appear as if the scale of the narrative is going to live up to the original. The sheer size of the infiltration was astounding in Secret Invasion, but it seems unlikely that a major character like Sam Wilson or Wanda Maximoff will actually have been a Skrull all along. 

What’s more, it wasn’t really Fury who was at the center of the story in the comics. The narrative was told from plenty of perspectives and he certainly wasn’t working alongside a ‘good Skrull’ in Talos. In fact, the whole portrayal of the alien species has been remarkably different in the MCU compared to the villainous take that Marvel fans are normally used to. 

Long-Term MCU Impact of Secret Invasion

So, while the characters involved, the motivation, the scale, the size, and the focal point of Secret Invasion might be completely different for Disney+, what will be an even starker contrast is the long-term impact of the show. With no Norman Osborn-esque figure around, and the shape of the MCU looking far different after their own Civil War, a Dark Reign event probably won’t follow up this series. 

However, there might be ramifications for future projects if the invasion isn’t actually resolved. Could it be possible that this initial TV event is just to set up the larger Skrull attack, with appearances happening within future films? Or is it that a few invaders will be identified, with Fury looking to reform the superhero community down the line? Only time will tell, but Secret Invasion should at least deliver on some of the game-changing elements that an adaptation of such a pivotal piece promises. 

Much like the title itself, Secret Invasion is still surrounded in secrecy, and fans don’t quite know what to expect heading into the project. Chances are, the impact of the narrative won’t be felt quite as it was in the comics, but that isn’t to say there aren’t some surprises up the sleeves of Marvel Studios. Regardless, the concept and tone of the release do nod towards a change of pace for Disney+ compared to the other shows, and fans are sure to welcome the return of Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury in a leading role. 

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