What to Remember Before Watching Marvel’s Secret Invasion

5 minute read

The first Marvel television series of 2023 is finally here: the Samuel L. Jackson-led Secret Invasion. The show’s plot was under wraps for quite some time, with ample speculation online since it was announced back in July 2022. Compared to last year, Marvel has been cutting back on the frequency of its interconnected TV shows and films. So far this year, the MCU has seen the release of two movies, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, with The Marvels movie and Echo, Loki Season 2, and Ironheart still to come.

Everything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is connected, and Secret Invasion is no exception: in order to fully appreciate the series, you have to remember what happened in 2019’s Captain Marvel. In that film, audiences see Nick Fury (Jackson) and the titular character, played by Brie Larson, promise to help the shape-shifting Skrulls find a new home to live on. In the new Disney+ series, which dropped its first episode today, we see them getting a bit restless and deciding to take over Earth, one fake terrorist attack at a time—hence the show’s title.

Here’s a primer on everything you need to remember before watching Secret Invasion.

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What happened in Captain Marvel?

Brie Larson in 'Captain Marvel,' 2019.Courtesy of Marvel

For those who haven’t watched Captain Marvel since it was released, here’s a quick recap: The story starts in 1995 on the Kree planet Hala and centers around Vers, a member of the Star Force who suffers from amnesia and nightmares. During a mission to save a covert operative, the Star Force encounters the Skrull, an alien life form that has the ability to shapeshift into other humanoid beings. Vers is captured by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), the Skrull commander, but she manages to escape and crash-lands in Los Angeles, where she meets Nick Fury.

While on Earth, she meets with Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), who tells Vers that she’s a human named Carol Danvers—a pilot who went missing after test-driving a light-speed engine that was designed by Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening). Talos reveals to Vers that the Skrull are refugees who are looking for a new planet to call home. They were being helped by Lawson, a Kree scientist named Mar-Vell, who was helping the Skrull find a home before she was killed by Vers’ mentor, Yon-Rogg (Jude Law).

Vers destroyed the light-speed engine that Mar-Vell had created and absorbed it, giving her superhuman powers—making her arguably one of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She promises to help the Skrull find a new home and leaves Fury with a pager (remember, it’s still 1995) that he can use to contact her if he ever needs her help.

Now that you’re all caught up with what happened in Captain Marvel, let’s move into the rapid-fire question-and-answer segment of this refresher.

How does Nick Fury fit into all of this?

Fury is Captain Marvel’s closest ally. Throughout the MCU’s run, he’s been in 11 movies and has gone through quite a lot. In Captain Marvel, we see how he acquired his eye patch (a cat named Goose, who is actually a Flerken). He also, critically, formed the Avengers. In Avengers: Infinity War, he got blipped (snapped? dusted?) with half of the world’s population after Thanos gained all six Infinity Stones. Then, in Avengers: Endgame, he was brought back after the Avengers were able to undo the damage. So it’s fitting that the former director of S.H.I.E.L.D. finally gets his just due in a standalone project.

In what year does Secret Invasion take place?

Ben Mendelsohn as Talos/KellerCourtesy of Marvel Studios

Five years after the Blip (the Thanos snap)—2025—and on the same timeline as the more recent Marvel projects, including Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

How many years have passed since Captain Marvel?

It’s been 30 years since the events of Captain Marvel took place.

Why are the Skrulls back on Earth?

The alien refugees have been waiting for help ever since Captain Marvel promised to help them find a new home, and there have been many obstacles getting in their way, so it seems like they’re taking matters into their own hands.

Who else features prominently in the new series?

Olivia Colman as Special Agent Sonya FalsworthCourtesy of Marvel

Mendelsohn’s Talos is back, and he contacts Fury to help him fend off an impending Skrull attack. But Jackson and Mendelsohn are not the only Hollywood heavyweights appearing in the series: Olivia Colman and Emilia Clarke are making their MCU debuts. Colman plays an antagonistic M16 agent in Fury’s story, while Clarke plays the older version of Talos’ daughter, G’iah. Don Cheadle is making his return to the MCU as War Machine, and Kingsley Ben-Adir will take on the role of the leader of a Skrull group that hopes to take over Earth.

What do we expect from Secret Invasion?

Emilia Clarke as G'iahCourtesy of Marvel

Aside from the new celebrities joining the MCU and familiar faces returning to reprise their roles, the central question is: Will the Skrull successfully take over Earth and if so, how? If not, who will stop them? The Avengers, as we know, have disbanded (or died) and there’s a new crop of superheroes forming across the planet. It’s yet to be seen how these new characters will connect the MCU and if the long-winded attempt at rebuilding the league of superheroes will bear fruit.

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Write to Moises Mendez II at moises.mendez@time.com