The following story contains spoilers for the first episode of Invincible, and the way things eventually play out in the comic of the same name.
- Amazon Prime Video’s Invincible contains a stunning twist at the end of its first episode.
- The twist was also included in creator Robert Kirkman’s Invincible comics, but it came much later in the run.
- Here’s why Kirkman moved the twist up earlier for the TV series, and why Omni-Man did what he did.
Between Marvel, D.C., and everything in between, it can be hard to stand out in the ever-expanding sea of superhero movies and shows. But Amazon Prime Video’s new animated epic—unrelated to either of those two huge universes—is off to a good start. With an excellent cast including key players Steven Yeun, J.K. Simmons, Sandra Oh, Zazie Beetz, and Walton Goggins, Invincible had some built in credibility. But it’s the gushingly-violent twist that comes at the end of the show’s first episode that will have audiences continuing to click play to see what happens next.
You see, the majority of the first episode follows a fairly traditional superhero formula. Yes, there are some jokes here and there, but we’re initially dropped into a world where the Guardians of the Globe (superheroes modeled on the likes of Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Wolverine, and others) are the protectors of the earth, and their ally, Omni-Man (Simmons, a parallel of sorts to Superman) is the greatest and most popular hero.
After an initial battle finds Omni-Man saving the day (as usual), we’re transported back to his home life. His son, Mark (Yeun) is a comic-obsessed 17-year-old still waiting for his hereditary powers to kick in—his father isn’t from Earth, but rather the planet of Viltrum. And so Mark is expecting his powers to kick in at any given moment–and in the first episode, they do. Omni-Man (also known as Nolan) begins training Mark, who chooses the nickname “Invincible.”
It’s all going pretty nicely and, honestly, a bit formulaically. But enjoy that feeling, because it doesn’t last very long. By the end of the episode, a scene shows each of the Guardians of the Globe receiving a distress call, and returning to their headquarters. Arriving at the headquarters, the Guardians realize it has been a set-up, and in an ensuring fight that makes The Boys look like My Little Pony, Omni-Man beats the absolute living hell out of every single Guardian. With blood, guts, eyeballs, and brains everywhere, all of this world’s Batman, Wolverine. Wonder Woman parallels are dead. Omni-Man remains, alive, on the ground.
Audiences, at the same time, are left wondering one big thing: What the fuck?
Why did Omni-Man kill the Guardians of the Globe in the comics?
So, before we get too in-depth with all of this we need to make one thing clear: the twist of Omni-Man killing all of the Guardians of the Globe at the end of the first episode of Invicible does indeed happen in the source material comics. That being said though, the twist comes much later—several issues in. The series, of course, uses it to set up the primary mystery and intrigue of the series.
“By moving that event up—in the comic book series, it happens much later—there isn’t this sense of, ‘Oh my gosh, when are people going to find out? And what are they going to do when they find out?’ Because everything just kind of rolls from there,” he said in an interview with TheWrap. “By having it move up, we do get an extra sense of like, ‘Oh my gosh, Debbie [Omni-Man’s wife, voiced by Sandra Oh] has no clue what’s going on with her husband. And how is she going to find out, if she finds out or when she finds out?’ It should build a lot of tension in the series and should be something that keeps you guessing episode to episode.”
OK. But why did Omni-Man kill The Guardians?
OK, OK. We’ll see what happens in the show, and anything, really, could play out. When Omni-Man first attacks the Guardians in the climactic scene at the end of Episode 1, the heroes wonder if he’s perhaps under someone’s villainous control. And while things could always be different, the way Omni-Man/Nolan has behaved in the episodes following the bloody murders make it pretty clear that he knew exactly what he was doing.
Since the show has already shown willingness to play with the source material—see the twist coming earlier, as described above—it’s likely that Omni-Man’s general motivation will remain the same.
The key to why Omni-Man/Nolan did what he did lies in his heritage as a Viltrumite—a citizen of Viltrum, not Earth. In the comics, Viltrumites are known for conquering other planets as a way of expanding their own empire; however, at a certain point, a virus took almost all of them out. The remaining Viltrumites went to other planets and laid low, planning to destabilize the defenses of the planet they inhabited from the inside out, slowly plotting an eventual uprising and comeback. By murdering all of the Guardians, Omni-Man/Nolan—who, of course, was posing as Earth’s greatest hero—was weakening Earth’s defense for his eventual planned takeover.
So Omni-Man/Nolan was, in turn, playing the long game on earth. He befriended the Guardians of the Globe, found a loving wife, and even had a son who shares his powers. And there, likely, is where the real crux of the series will come: will Nolan convince Mark to join him? Or will the two face off?
We’ll find out in the coming episodes of Invincible. But for now, if you wanted to know how Kirkman answered this question in his original comics, there’s your answer.
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