New Amazon animation Invincible is a superhero show with a difference – though you might not know it until the final moments of the first episode, which include a big twist that drastically changes everything you’ve seen so far and casts the whole series in a very different light.
“I mean I was very nervous – that moment comes much later in the comic-book series [which the series is adapted from], and I think that’s to its detriment,” series creator Robert Kirkman told RadioTimes.com.
“It was something that was baked in from minute one of adapting this show, it was something that we had planned from the get-go that we always knew that we would try and do.”
But what is this twist, and what does it mean for the series? We break it down below, but be warned – spoilers for Invincible episode one will appear. It is also worth checking out who-plays-who in the Invincible cast.
Invincible initially presents itself as a superheroic father-and-son tale, Steven Yeun’s Mark Grayson struggling to live up to the example of his superhero dad Omni-Man (JK Simmons) even after his latent flight and super-strength kick in.
Over the course of the episode we see Omni-Man in action helping famed superheroes the Guardians of the Globe and telling Mark of his alien heritage, and the noble calling both share to protect the people of Earth.
The episode apparently concludes with Mark accepting his new superhero identity – the titular “Invincible” – and flying off with his costume. But then a disturbing coda arrives, kicked off by short vignettes of the previously-introduced Guardians of the Globe interrupting their personal lives to answer a distress signal in their base.
Upon arrival, they discover the source – Omni-Man himself, who brutally attacks and systematically murders the heroes one by one, tearing them apart, beating some to death and generally exacting a bloody toll on the team (while taking some serious injuries himself).
By the end, Earth’s greatest defenders are dead, and Omni-Man’s purpose on Earth – as well as the path the unknowing Mark is headed down – suddenly look a whole lot darker.
As Kirkman noted, this key plot point is part of the original comic-book series that the series is based on, but when adapting his work to the screen he decided to bring the scene forward, to help audiences understand the key struggle at the heart of Invincible.
“When you look at how television works, ending your first episode with something like that makes a lot more sense,” he told us.
“I think being able to take a mulligan from the comic-book series and adapt it in the show, and move that event up, and give people a better sense of what this series is going to be much earlier, was absolutely essential to the life of this show.”
Going forward, the fallout from The Guardians’ death – as well as the investigation into their murders – becomes a key storyline in Invincible, as is the truth behind Omni-Man’s rampage and his home planet, all of which factored in the original Invincible comic in slightly different ways.
Still, it’s possible that Kirkman will have continued to make small changes in exactly how that story plays out for this new medium, which will only be revealed in future episodes.
“It’s a really great change that I hope will get people invested in this series from the very get-go, which I think happens a little later in the comic-book series,” Kirkman concluded.
Invincible episodes 1-3 are now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, with new episodes available on Fridays. You can sign up to Amazon Prime Video for £7.99 a month after a 30-day free trial. Want something else to watch? Check out our dedicated Sci-Fi page or our full TV Guide.