There has been one question on everyone’s minds since Skrulls started impersonating our favorite Marvel characters, but Secret Invasion director Ali Selim isn’t keen on answering it any time soon. The “invasion” part of Disney Plus’s new Marvel series is pretty significant. In the first scene of the series, audiences understand that long-standing Marvel characters could be alien imposters. No one may be shedding tears for Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) being replaced, but the big shocker of the series was realizing that Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) right-hand man had been a Skrull for quite some time.
How much time? The jury is still out on that. Secret Invasion definitively proves that James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle) is not who he thought he was. After firing Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) from S.A.B.E.R., the Rhodey Skrull does their best to discredit him and start a war that will lead to Skrulls taking over the planet. Collider pressed Selim on exactly how long we have lived with this Rhodey imposter, but the director did not give a satisfying answer.
“There are a lot of conversations with Marvel, but it all ends up in the script that Rhodey has been a Skrull, and we can only assume he’s been a Skrull since [Captain America] Civil War. And yet, I think the definitive answer is not as much fun as letting the audience go back to Rhodey scenes and unpack it and see what they think. I think that’s what Marvel would say, too. ‘Yeah, it’s an idea, but definitive? Go explore, see what you come up with.’”
This is a frustrating response, especially considering the remarks that Selim has said in the past. When fans first posed the Rhodey theory at the beginning of the series, the director confirmed that War Machine had been a Skrull since Captain America: Civil War. It isn’t just that no one wants to see one of the best-intentioned Avengers-adjacent characters be sullied in such a way — even more heartbreaking to consider is whether our Rhodey knew about Tony’s death, and imagine what a difficult conversation that will be.
What makes Selim’s statement so disturbing is the ambiguity. Marvel refuses to commit to one timeline or another, and that speaks to how little planning went into the newest series. Could Rhodey be a Skrull since Civil War? He certainly could, and who is to say he hasn’t? But what is clear from this response is that Marvel themselves don’t know when this change occurred. It’s hard to believe that the production company planned the Skrull invasion that far back, and if they were to commit an answer one way or another, it would mean they would be held to a standard they are not prepared for. Fans may already be going back to deciding that this fact doesn’t make sense so it’s easier to not acknowledge an answer in the worst-reviewed content in the MCU.
This also speaks to the real problem that Marvel continues to have with their limited series. Shows like Loki and WandaVision work because they are self-contained. They are personal journeys that occur outside of the MCU and have little ramifications, if any. But making this large statement of the Skull invasion and making G’iah (Emilia Clarke) more powerful than Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is an odd choice that will put the MCU under a microscope in all upcoming projects. Viewers can watch the entire season of Secret Invasion on Disney Plus.