Thank god for ‘Invincible’.
As someone who has been a huge, huuuge fan of Marvel and DC content since 2008’s Iron Man, I’ve been having a bit of superhero fatigue. The Snyder Cut was an overindulgent ‘meh’. The Eternals seems like a bore (btw, where tf have these guys been?).
The only promising slate is Shang Chi, but even with its predominantly Asian cast, Marvel’s tired formula of quippy origin stories looms not too far away.
This ‘burnout’ is a heartbreaking feeling to have. I woke up at 3 AM in the morning to watch Endgame on its premiere. I screamed just like every other person in the theatre.
But it’s been quite a while since I felt something, any excitement for any content related to superheroes. It’s not that WandaVision was bad or The Falcon and Winter Soldier was horrible. But they were ‘okay’ at best. They… happened.
That’s why, again, thank freaking god for ‘Invincible’.
Invincible is an adaptation of the Image Comic of the same name created by The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman. Invincible (Mark Grayson) is the son of Omni-Man (Nolan Grayson), who so happens to be this world’s Superman, aka their greatest hero.
It took me a while to give the series a go, given I knew zilch about the character or its source material. It doesn’t help either that the first episode initially seemed like a generic take on a tired genre.
You have the ‘teenage protagonist discovers his powers for the first time’ scene. A training montage. The dilemma of living up to everyone else’s expectations. The struggles of balancing high school and superpowers.
It was essentially a Spider-Man arc – if Peter Park was the son of Superman, who so happens to give zero f*cks about humanity.
Omni-Man is what sold Invincible for me. By the end of the first episode, he brutally kills this universe’s Justice League. He destroys a planet in another. He uses his son to plow through a train full of passengers. Omni-Man, behind his Messianic image, sees people as insects and is basically Batman and Lex Luthor’s greatest fear.
Now, you might think Invincible is just about violence. Trust me, there is a lot of those. But the series’ biggest highlight is that it has touches within reality. By ‘reality’, I mean as real as you can get in a universe filled with aliens and flying humans.
A world with superheroes would be a terrifying place. Someone punches another through a city and it’s millions dead in an instant. Every move has a consequence. Us regular humans, we can’t do anything about it.
And if our only hope was a 17-year-old kid, who has to go against his demigod of a father, he’ll get his ass beat. There would be no flashbacks to give him inspiration. No power of friendship to overcome years of experience. The kid will get wrecked to a bloody pulp.
The concept of vulnerability is, ironically, Invincible’s greatest strength. Over the years, it’s something Marvel has lost and that DC has yet to learn. Spider-Man may get the crap kicked out of him, but we all know he’s gonna be fine. Superman might’ve died, but he’ll be back in the next movie.
Invincible, as a character, also won’t bite the dust in his show’s first season. But the series never makes you feel like it’s a guarantee, even if it most likely is.
There is danger. There are stakes. There is heft. Even on an emotional level. And it keeps you on the edge of your seat, making you want more. For the first time in a long while, you don’t know what to expect in a superhero flick. And that is awesome.
Man, I love this show.