Marvel’s latest Disney Plus series has arrived, and it brings with it a world full of alien invaders who can shape-shift and take over the identity of anyone on Earth. But perhaps the biggest mystery for comics fans heading into Secret Invasion was what exactly this new series has to do with the comics it’s based on. As it turns out, the answer is: not much.
The basic premises of each series are the same: Skrulls, the shape-shifting aliens in the Marvel universe, have been living among humans for years and are slowly infiltrating their systems of government all over the world. But the reasons for this are a little bit different between mediums.
In Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Skrulls are brought to Earth as refugees, but a particularly clever Skrull decides there’s no reason to be a refugee if you can just take over the planet you’re staying on instead — which, yeah, is kind of a weird way to present refugees. The comics, on the other hand, are a little sillier. The Skrulls invade because the hordes of an extradimensional dictator had destroyed hundreds of planets in their empire. They needed new worlds, and they loathed humanity for its wastefulness and hubris. Also, they were just generally ticked off at how superheroes had treated previous Skrull warriors. Like, the first ever Skrulls to appear in the comics were tricked into transforming into cows and then had their minds erased. So a remnant of the empire got mad and decided they should take over Earth as payback.
As for the rest of the story, things are about as different as they could be. Secret Invasion is one of Marvel Comics’ massive crossover events, a huge spectacle that includes just about every team-up and character you can think of. The arc spreads across eight issues and involves the Skrulls revealing themselves to have already replaced various celebrities and world leaders. All this chaos unfolds over the course of a single day, through several massive battles, until Earth’s heroes ultimately prevail. But the Skrulls still succeed in their baseline goal: destroying Earth’s confidence in its safety and its protectors. (Yeah... Secret Invasion is a very post-9/11 series.)
While there are certainly a few details that could make for compelling and easy crossover material for plot lines in the MCU version of this story, huge elements — from Tony Stark being one of the main characters and Reed Richards solving the problem to the massive battles involving dozens of superheroes and the dinosaurs that intervene halfway through — just aren’t possible to bring over from the comics.
With that in mind, and in the interest of not spoiling anything, we won’t say much about the new series except that it doesn’t have much to do with any of the comic series’ plots. Instead, it’s much more grounded and serious, aiming for more of the espionage-and-intrigue tone of Captain America: The Winter Soldier or the Disney Plus series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
But, even with those differences in mind, it’s still worth reading the comic arc anyway. For MCU fans it will be a nice reminder of how different the comics are, but also a fun preview of some of the heroes that are on their way to the MCU or the potential team-ups that could happen in the future. The main series is short and reads quickly, but there are dozens of character-specific wrap-up arcs that you can get to if you want.