In an interview with Empire Magazine, Secret Invasion director Ali Selim revealed that the show was inspired by the spy noir genre.
“We talked a lot about classic espionage noir, like The Third Man,” he said.
“As Nick moves through it [the show], he walks out of a noir and into a Western. He becomes the lone gunslinger walking down Main Street looking for bad guys to vanquish.
“We go from The Third Man to John Wayne in The Searchers, and Sam walks effortlessly from one into the next.”
Marvel is known for making comic book films with additional genres added to them. Spider-Man: Homecoming was a superhero highschool comedy. Ant-Man was a superhero heist movie.
So while Secret Invasion is dealing with Skrull terrorists that could transform into anyone, its inspiration remains firmly rooted on Earth.
Another way that the show retains Earthly elements is exploring what is a terrorist. “Who is a terrorist and why are they a terrorist?” asks Selim.
That is most important when looking at the show’s villain, Kingsley Ben-Adir’s Skrull Gravik.
Seilm explained that he isn’t just a bad guy with a bomb. “His story and how he came to this grievance is clearly explored here.”
In this way, the show plants one foot in the past but updates it to make it appropriate to a modern audience.
“That doesn’t just refer back to movie history and noir; it refers to our times today,” said Selim.
Marvel has previously grappled with political issues in its films and shows, most notably in the Captain America films and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Secret Invasion releases on Disney+ on June 21, 2023.