Many fans of Marvel Comics have noted that the Secret Invasion storyline of the comics hasn’t been very well adapted into the Marvel Cinematic Universe television series of the same name. The reasons for this are many, a lot of which involve the show’s overall quality and how it handles its spy thriller tone.
The Secret Invasion comic book took place in a robust Marvel Universe that had over half a century of publication history. Comparatively, the MCU does not even have two decades of similar history. Add in the characters needed and the budget and logistics of the show, and it becomes obvious that it would have been impossible to accurately bring the plot of the original comic to life.
The MCU Does Not Have the History of Marvel Comics
As mentioned, Marvel’s comic book universe and the Marvel Cinematic Universe are two very different entities, and this stems largely from the characters involved. For instance, in the comics, Captain America and Bucky fought the Nazis in World War II alongside several Golden Age heroes, including the original android Human Torch. These characters don’t exist in the MCU, which makes for a far less “lived in” WW2 time period. Likewise, the premiere Marvel properties in the comics have long since been the X-Men and Spider-Man. In the MCU, however, the iconic webslinger has been reduced to a veritable sidekick for Iron Man, facing very few of his own villains and challenges. Additionally, the X-Men don’t even exist as of yet, with the mutant genre only now being introduced through characters such as Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel.
Daredevil’s love interest Elektra essentially kickstarted Secret Invasion in the comics when she was revealed to have been replaced by a Skrull. Conversely, Spider-Man’s nemesis Norman Osborn ultimately stopped the Skrulls in the story’s conclusion. Neither character truly exists in the MCU at the moment, notwithstanding the Netflix Daredevil series that may or may not be considered canon. Another notable absence is the Fantastic Four, who were the ones who actually started the modern “Marvel Age” back in the Silver Age of Comics. Marvel’s First Family has yet to be introduced in the MCU, and the same goes for Doctor Doom, Galactus and the Silver Surfer. Oddly enough, the Secret Invasion TV show has introduced the concept of the Super-Skrull, even though the comic book version of the villain is known for copying the powers of the Fantastic Four. With so many key characters missing or heavily altered, it was only inevitable that said TV series would have to change quite a bit about the comic book storyline.
Another major part of the original Secret Invasion was the presence of the New Avengers. This team featured several heroes who previously did not have many ties to the Avengers, namely the Jessica Drew Spider-Woman. This was a big deal, thus making it even more impactful when Spider-Woman was revealed to be a Skrull. Those sorts of moments require characters that fans and audiences are familiar with, which would have been hard to replicate in the MCU. Spider-Woman doesn’t exist (and likely will never be introduced considering how many times she has been overlooked), and there is no new incarnation of the Avengers. Without the involvement of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, it becomes nearly impossible to tell a comics accurate story.
A Faithful Secret Invasion Adaptation Would Be Too Expensive
If a Secret Invasion adaptation were made in live-action that accurately brought the comic book storyline to the big or small screen, it would easily be one of Hollywood’s most expensive productions. The story would involve all the major Avengers, several other heroes, and a ton of special effects. The same goes for Skrull spaceships and the effects for their shapeshifting powers, none of which would be cheap if done convincingly. That’s not even getting into the necessary salaries that certain talent would command. For instance, actor Tom Holland was previously paid around $5 million or so for major movies, and that’s before the breakout success of 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home. If he was sharing the screen with other major actors, the salaries as a whole would be an immense part of the movie or TV shows’ galactic-sized budget.
Another point worth mentioning is that the Secret Invasion adaptation is a TV series. Even for prestige format shows, these usually pale in comparison to big budget blockbusters in the vein of Avengers: Endgame. The MCU film is around 3 hours long, and television shows are usually significantly longer, making an even larger budget necessary. According to reports, Secret Invasion cost about $212 million, with the show having 6 episodes total. Endgame has a budget that was over $350 million, and it showed in how epic and breathtaking it was. Said budget also involved a stacked cast of household names as well as a number of special effects. Secret Invasion lacks both the bevy of starpower and the required visuals to duplicate the comics. Even its signature Skrulls rarely shapeshifting or use any sort of special abilities, with the action’s scope being no more advanced than the CW’s Arrowverse shows.
If it cost over half of Endgame‘s budget to produce a TV show with not even half the scale, ambition, special effects requirements, or cast, doing justice to Secret Invasion on television was always going to be problematic. Thus, there’s a definite argument to be made that the storyline should have been done as a movie or not done at all. Even in this medium, it still would have boasted a price tag that put Endgame‘s to shame. In the end, the Disney+ show is truly Secret Invasion in name only, lacking fidelity to the source material in the same that many of the aforementioned Arrowverse shows did. Nevertheless, this was truly an inevitable reality, as the things needed to bring the story to life would have required much more than the average television show can provide.
Secret Invasion is streaming now on Disney+.
Disney’s Secret Invasion television series deviates greatly from the Marvel Comics source material for a very specific reason. Read More