A star rating of 4 out of 5.

There's a lot of pressure on the shoulders of Marvel's new series Secret Invasion.


While Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 was released to widespread acclaim, other recent MCU movies, most notably Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, received a much more muted response, prompting some genuine concern about the future of the franchise.

But Secret Invasion has been set up for success. It's simultaneously grounded in MCU history with its focus on veteran Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and is fresh with new threats, dazzling new characters and, here's hoping, a new era for MCU series.

Secret Invasion, the first series of Marvel's Phase Five, follows Fury amid an invasion of Earth by the shapeshifting Skrulls, who we met in Captain Marvel as refugees seeking a new home.

Fury returns to Earth to join his allies, including Everett Ross (Martin Freeman), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), and Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) and quickly learns just how high the stakes are - and what his absense has truly cost him.

The first two episodes, which were available for review, don't hold back on shock factor, making it clear that no one's safe now. At the same time, Fury, who once had the galaxy at his fingertips, appears more vulnerable than ever to his enemies and to his friends - a terrifying prospect.

The series makes the most of what it's given, especially when it comes to Fury, delving into his backstory, his agreement with the Skrulls, his trauma after the blip, and his fractious bond with Talos. Here's hoping there's more to come from Rhodey too, who's taking absolutely none of Fury's nonsense this time around.

As for our villains, a certain radical faction of Skrulls, led by Kingsley Ben-Adir's character Gravik, prove to be a genuinely horrifying threat, with Fury for once seeming a couple of steps behind.

Of course, fans are excited to see some new faces, some of whom are played by a starry roster of British talent - Emilia Clarke as G'iah, Talos's daughter, and Olivia Colman as Sonya Falsworth.

Unsurprisingly, it's Colman who steals every scene she's in with her portrayal of the no-nonsense MI6 agent. At this point, Colman has her own sub-genre of characters and it's a treat to see her take on the MCU. Clarke's portrayal is more low key but as brilliant as ever, as G'iah struggles with an inner conflict.

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The series isn't perfect - there are moments that are a little slow going in the first episodes as we head into the heart of the series. But if Secret Invasion continues the dynamic it's built from its beginning, we could be looking at another spectacular series right when Marvel needs it most.

After all, Marvel's been rather hit and miss with their series. But when they're good, they're exceptional, and Secret Invasion has the potential to be exactly what the the MCU and its fans need right now - something to bring us fully back on board.

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