Marvel’s The Inhumans

Oh, what a tangled web we weave.

So anyone who has been paying attention to the current state of superhero stories in the wider media (hello!) knows that Marvel’s The Inhumans have had an interesting production history. At first, we were supposed to get an Inhumans movie somewhere down the line (if memory serves, it got bumped/axed when Antman did so well at the box office). In the meantime, Marvel started laying the groundwork for this movie really early by including the Inhumans in Agents of SHIELD. Then the film got canceled, and so Marvel decided to turn the idea into a new TV show, one that would have a special debut in movie theaters in IMAX and everything.

Good and confused? It gets even worse when you consider how Marvel is trying to reposition the Inhumans in their comics to supplant the X-Men since Marvel doesn’t own the film or TV rights to the X-Men and likely won’t be getting them back any time soon.

But no matter how it got here, this weekend The Inhumans premiere episode was released in IMAX theaters and, even though I kind of promised myself I wouldn’t get suckered in, I got suckered in. What can I say, I’m curious!

So what’s the plot here? Well, it’s complicated. See, many thousands of years ago, a group of aliens (I think it’s the Kree, but oddly, the species is never named in this show) visited Earth and conducted experiments on primitive humans, mingling their DNA with ours. Once these aliens were chased off the planet, a bunch of the resulting hybrids traveled from Earth to a secret city on the moon where they’ve lived in relative obscurity ever since.

But now trouble is brewing. There have been Inhuman descendants living on Earth without realizing what they were. Thanks to some shenanigans on Earth (depicted in previous seasons of Agents of SHIELD), these latent Inhumans are transforming and realizing they have powers. This new development causes a rift within the Inhuman royal family, pitting the king, Blackbolt, against his brother Maximus. Maximus decides it’s time for a coup and the rest of the royal family winds up fleeing to Earth, setting up a showdown between the Inhumans on the moon with the Inhumans in exile on Earth.

And that’s pretty much what the TV pilot was. Sorry. Spoilers? Except not really, since pretty much all of those details have been out since the trailers started dropping months ago.

For the most part, I was just whelmed by the experience. Part of the problem is that some of the Inhumans have very nebulous powers. I mean, some of them are obvious (such as Medusa’s moving hair or Gorgon’s goat feet). But others aren’t exactly well explained or explained at all. For example, while it’s clear that Blackbolt doesn’t speak, it isn’t until late into the episode(s) that we realize why he doesn’t speak (a single word can wreak unimaginable destruction). I knew that going in only because I did some research ahead of time. But others are mystifying, like Karnak. Does he travel through time? Does he have super insight into the world around him? I have no idea.

Now there were some bright spots to the show. I loved Anson Mount’s Blackbolt, especially after he got to Earth. He has a hard role here, basically remaining mute for most of the episode. But he was still able to convey a lot of depth and thought with just his facial expressions. And as mystified as I am by Karnak’s powers, his dour and pessimistic personality was a nice touch too.

So what’s my final verdict? I’m not expecting this one to survive long. The source material is obscure enough that I’m not sure that it will appeal to casual fans. And while there are those bright spots on the cast, I’m not sure this is a keeper. I mean, I’ll set my DVR for it and watch it when I can, but this isn’t going to unseat any of my current favorites by a long shot.

All that being said, watching this premiere episode got me thinking about the current state of Marvel’s extended Cinematic Universe, and I have concerns. But that’s another post for another day.

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