Last night ABC aired the two episode pilot for their latest Marvel television series Inhumans which will run for eight episodes. The Inhuman race was introduced to the MCU in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., however while there is no planned crossover for the shows, Inhumans will reference events that took place during AoS such as the mass terrigenesis via Earths oceans. Terrigenesis is the activation of a persons dormant Inhuman DNA causing them to gain abilities or physically transform, pretty much the same thing as a mutant from the X-Men activating their X-gene.
The synopsis reads:
Marvel’s Inhumans explores the never-before-told epic adventure of the royal family including Black Bolt, the enigmatic, commanding King of the Inhumans, with a voice so powerful that the slightest whisper can destroy a city. After the Royal Family of Inhumans is splintered by a military coup, they barely escape to Hawaii where they are greeted with surprising interactions with the lush world and humanity around them. Now they must find a way to reunite with each other and return to their home before their way of life is destroyed forever.
The initial reactions to the show from critics and fans that either received screeners or visited participating IMAX cinemas that held screenings earlier in September were incredibly poor, and now we know why.
So far I haven’t found anything to like about this show. Yes its based on a Marvel Entertainment property (one that I’m a fan of) but it means nothing when its poorly written with predictable flat dialogue and a boring story with central characters you have no reason to care about. The wooden or one note performances from the actors that have been placed in some truly bad costumes and prosthetics don’t exactly help you connect to their characters either. It would be a struggle to make the “Royal Family” look any less regal. In superhero shows nobody likes it when the characters are held back from using their abilities for long periods of time, understandably its usually because the special effects can be costly. I would argue the only thing worse than the aforementioned offence is when abilities are used wastefully, feel unearned from a character development standpoint, and are executed disappointingly visually.
Black Bolt (Anson Mount) the mute King, really is clueless, secretive, and frustratingly enigmatic. Said to be able to level cities with his destructive hyper-sonic voice this should be one of those times where we have to earn a look at his ability, instead we see it used multiple times in the pilot. Due to his Inhuman ability he is unable to speak and so communicates with sign language, for some reason the only person able to understand him is his wife, Queen Medusa (Serinda Swan). In the comics the character shared a telepathic link with those closest to him allowing him to speak to them directly, as they have not gone this route on the show actor Anson Mount has no dialogue, sounds good right?
At this point its incredible to think that in 2014 Inhumans was originally slated to be a film to be released in phase three of the MCU and would most likely have already been released had it not been canceled in April 2016. While nothing about the project was officially confirmed it seemed almost a certainty that the voice actor behind Guardians of the Galaxy’s Groot, Vin Diesel would have been our Black Bolt, playing to the irony of voicing the sentient tree while physically embodying the mute King. The Inhumans movie was canceled due to phase three having more than twice as many films as either of its predecessors, being unnecessary for the overall story of the MCU, and sharing its only ties to the television side of the isle with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. In November 2016, seven months after the movies cancellation the Marvel/IMAX/ABC collaboration was announced, and a month later Netflix’s Iron Fist showrunner Scott Buck was signed to fill the same role for Inhumans, oh how fans rejoiced.
You might be asking why I’m giving this information, and while its partially because I find it interesting, I do have a point to get to so bear with me. Scott Buck, as proven by his work on Iron Fist which sits at 17% on rottentomatoes, is a professional at shoveling out quick under budget shit. Now the Chairman of Marvel Entertainment Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter has a reputation of being both frugal and rather petty when it comes to business, and while he is the Chairman he only has control of the television side of Marvel. With that in mind there has been tension in the past between Perlmutter and executives at Fox who own the rights to the X-Men movies, as a result he was reported as being responsible for the reduction in X-Men comics and merchandise to lower enthusiasm for the Fox franchise. Note how I mentioned the similarities between the X-Men and Inhumans earlier? Interesting timing to release Inhumans so close to Fox’s The Gifted don’t you think?
Ultimately I feel this show was forced at an executive level and not conceived of some creative vision unlike the majority of the other Marvel properties, and it really shows.
Inhumans stars Anson Mount as Black Bolt, Serinda Swan as Medusa, Isabelle Cornish as Crystal, Iwan Rhoen as Maximus, Ken Leung as Karnak, Eme Ikwuakor as Gorgon, Mike Moh as Triton, Sonya Balmores as Auran, and Ellen Woglomas as Louise.
Honestly the show has no strong selling points and has no compelling reason to make you want to tune in next week. I do like to give new series 2-3 episodes before casting them aside completely because sometimes they can need that time to find their feet, and commonly the pilot will have a smaller budget than regular season episodes. However that might not be the case this time around based on the expensive theatrical IMAX strategy ABC went with, and the fact we are yet to see a trailer giving us a look further into the season so don’t expect too much.
If like me your going to give Inhumans one more chance, the next episode airs October 6th on ABC in the US.