Secret Invasion will make Disney Plus history for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) when it launches in 2023.
The limited series is the first Marvel TV show to be billed as a "crossover event" – a phrase that suggests Secret Invasion will be the first-ever MCU Disney Plus show that ties into Marvel's upcoming movie slate. The intriguing and historic description can be found on the show's Disney Plus Originals page (thanks to Reddit for the catch), though there's no indication about what other productions it'll be linked to.
So far, Marvel Studios' Disney Plus productions have followed self-contained stories that occasionally set up events in some MCU movies. A classic example is WandaVision, the first MCU TV series that kicked off Marvel's Phase 4 slate, which simultaneously told a complete story and teased Wanda's extensive involvement in Doctor Strange 2.
However, Secret Invasion is the first MCU TV show officially described as a "crossover event". Other TV entries in the MCU, including Hawkeye and Ms Marvel, haven't been labeled as such, despite the fact they set up forthcoming Marvel projects including Echo and The Marvels. It seems, then, that Secret Invasion could be a far more important Marvel TV show than we realize.
This isn't the first crossover-style event on Disney Plus. The streamer's Star Wars TV line-up has been similarly positioned as a crossover event, with The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and Ahsoka tied together by an overarching narrative. Maybe Marvel is taking a page out of Lucasfilm's book...
Secret Invasion sees Samuel L Jackson reprise his role as Nick Fury, the former director of SHIELD, as he leads an investigation into a sect of shape-shifting Skrulls who have infiltrated (and live among) Earth's human population. The series will also star Ben Mendolsohn as Talos and Cobie Smulders as ex-SHIELD agent Maria Hill. Meanwhile, Game of Thrones alumnus Emilia Clarke, Oscar-winning actor Olivia Colman, and One Night in Miami's Kingsley Ben-Adir are also part of the cast.
Originally set to release this year, Secret Invasion will now arrive in spring 2023 as part of Marvel's Phase 5 slate. The show is currently undergoing reshoots in London, with Jackson previously confirming he was heading back to the UK to film new scenes for the show and The Marvels. Jackson has also teased Fury's future in the MCU, so we can expect to see him appear in other Phase 5 projects.
Analysis: how could Secret Invasion impact the MCU?
Given its "crossover event" description, it's possible that Secret Invasion will be a mini Avengers-style project, with multiple MCU superheroes and characters appearing at various points throughout its episodic run. Don Cheadle's War Machine and Martin Freeman's Everett K Ross are already set to cameo, so it's not out of the realms of possibility that other prominent MCU characters may show up.
The series could also be the first-ever open-ended Marvel Disney Plus series. If it's going to instigate events in MCU Phase 5 projects, such as The Marvels and/or Captain America: New World Order, Secret Invasion won't necessarily need a finite ending, especially if its narrative bleeds over into future Marvel productions.
Secret Invasion will pick up where The Marvels' predecessor – aka 2019's Captain Marvel – left off, particularly with Captain Marvel leading Talos and the other Skrull refugees off into the cosmos to find a new permanent home. With Talos set to feature prominently in Secret Invasion, the show's ties to The Marvels seem pretty certain at this point.
There have even been rumors that Secret Invasion could release in two parts – akin to how Netflix released Stranger Things season 4 – either side of The Marvels' July 2023 release. That would further cement its place as the MCU's first TV crossover event, as long as the rumors are true.
Meanwhile, the "New World Order" part of Captain America 4's title may allude to the Skrulls holding key government, military, and even superhero roles worldwide. This is a major plot thread that plays out in the Secret Invasion comic storyline, so it's one that could be explored in greater detail if Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson/Captain America makes a surprise cameo in Secret Invasion.
Maybe Thunderbolts will tie into Secret Invasion, too. Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Contessa Fontaine has taken up an anti-hero Fury-esque role in recent Marvel movies. If she's the individual who puts the Thunderbolts together, they could be tasked with removing the Skrulls from their high-ranking Earthly positions. A covert, off-the-record mission like this would be perfect for this anti-hero/villain supergroup, especially if one or two MCU heroes are surprisingly unmasked as Skrulls. How subversive and cool would it be to see a Marvel superhero actually be a Skrull – as some are in the comics – and be the villain of the piece?
We've got a while to wait before we see how Secret Invasion impacts the MCU. In the meantime, check out our Marvel movies in order guide. Alternatively, read up the last two major Phase 4 entries – She-Hulk: Attorney at Law and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – which arrive later this year.
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As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.
An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.
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