What Secret Invasion Can Learn From The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Secret Invasion will be here before you know it and Marvel would do well to learn from one of their first Disney+ series before putting Nick Fury and the Skrulls back on the board. Yes, we can all remember the feeling of being mostly inside after the delight of WandaVision in March of 2021 and anticipation of Anthony Mackie being christened the MCU's new Captain America in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. However, that series, while absolutely soaring on the chemistry between Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, ran into one specific critique among fans online: The villains had a point!

The Flag Smashers, and Erin Kellyman's Karli Morgenthau in particular, are hardly the first Marvel antagonists to have a couple of insightful points about the way our ostensible heroes conduct business. To be honest, from the sound of Kingsley Ben-Adir's Gravik in Secret Invasion, she won't even be the last one from The Multiverse Saga. (Somewhat darkly, even Kang the Conqueror himself might make some insightful observations about the beloved Sacred Timeline's Avengers before it's all over…) 

But, that's just it, the MCU has to find a way to balance the villains in a way that makes them both bad guys and compelling without half the audience completely sympathizing with their cause.

The Killmonger Dilemma

One of Marvel Studios' most successful villains has to be Erik Killmonger in Black Panther. Michael B. Jordan's charismatic mercenary has launched approximately 8,000,000 discourse threads on social media and sites like this one about "if he was right." 

(The argument is, in fact, moot because the world of our story pretty clearly lays out Killmonger as a villain no matter how many times someone points out that the diaspora was sent into chaos by colonialism. Also, his brash disregard for basically every woman he comes across absolutely flies in the face of the Wakandan society, which is highly-reverential of both female authority and power. There's also the fact that the tools of an oppressor very rarely lead to true liberation against those same forces….)

(Photo: Marvel Studios)

At any rate, the popularity of the idea that "Killmonger was Right" or the latter "Thanos was Right" help define some parameters for what Marvel should be trying to avoid this time around. A new Vanity Fair feature from today positions Ben-Adir's Gravik as Secret Invasion's antagonist. He and other Skrulls like him are upset by the fact that Nick Fury and the humans have not helped them find a true home. (Take into account that Captain Marvel occurred in the 1990s and their case for, at the very least, mild annoyance is holding some serious water!)

Marvel needs to find a way to ensure that the Skrulls don't fall into the pit of "They had a point but they went too far and now we have to check them because they're evil now." If we're going to point out how people in power can be misguided or outright wrong, a way for the characters to rectify the situation needs to be on the table without an Avengers or someone like Nick Fury deciding to kill them because they (understandably) had a beef.

Avoiding Another Flag Smashers Situation

Basically, that's what happened to Karli Morgenthau at the end of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. After having a couple of moments trying to get through to people in power, the group had to make even more incendiary statements. That is, until we get to the massive GRC summit in New York City during the climax. Her standing across from Sam Wilson is heartbreaking because we understand everything she's lost and the desperation surrounding their demands. These people just want somewhere to live not defined by borders and free of the bureaucracy that the GRC is offering.

Funnily enough, she gets killed by someone other than Captain America because her existence as a super soldier is too much of a wildcard for people behind the scenes pulling the strings. Her complicated morality basically can't exist in this world. If you think about it, the only super soldier that gets to survive The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is John Walker. And, that's because he's pretty easy to control and manipulate into doing the government's bidding.



- Marvel Entertainment)

None of that resolution left people forgetting how much The Flag Smashers had right. The world was destabilized by The Blip. There were people who's lives improved because of the radical shake-up of the status quo. And, that treatment of the antagonist left a weird taste in some viewers' mouths. Secret Invasion would be smart to avoid some of that!

How Secret Invasion Is Already Improving On This Dynamic

Well, for starters, keeping things to maybe two villains instead of three is a great start. With a title like Secret Invasion and a predilection for espionage, you can bet the United States government and Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine seems like a nice sleeper bet to appear at some point here. She's racked up a lot of power in the MCU in a short amount of time. Expect her and Damage Control to hoover up power in any vacuum that presents itself.

Now, about the Skrulls. I think we're already doing better than The Flag Smashers because there are some of the aliens that still believe in Talos and the humans. That gives things a bit of grey area that the creative team can explore. Yes, Gravik has totally lost faith, but maybe there's some other conflict that tips things beyond "they killed some humans and now they're irredeemable." (It might be too much to hope for, but honestly having Fury find a way to honor that promise would be nice to see. Although, very very unlikely to happen in a Disney+ show.)



- Marvel Studios)

Another shoe to drop that would really make this whole scenario sing would be to have some third player in there from midway through pulling strings. Val has both reason and motive to cause some political chaos to advance her agenda. Rhodey is right hand to the President in Secret Invasion. It's clear from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever that the shadowy agent would love nothing more than a Vibranium war with both the African nation and Talokan. Add in the fact that Everett Ross figures heavily in the Secret Invasion marketing and the pieces are all there.

Instead of making the "evil Skrull" with a bone to pick with the humans the conflict, go full espionage thriller with the government actually being the one pulling the strings. It might make for a more satisfying Disney+ series. And as a bonus, viewers can feel elated that one of the MCU's recurring bugaboos has been averted this time around.

Do you Marvel can avoid the villain issue this time around? Let us know down in the comments!