Patrick Gleason and I were able to check out the Imax presentation of Marvel’s Inhumans last night. Everyone is wondering if it’s worth tuning in for. My answer is that it depends on how into the MCU and Marvel’s comics you are.
I think someone who is starting without any background knowledge is going to find themselves lost pretty quickly. If you’ve been following Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. you’ll understand how Inhumans fit into the wider MCU. Marvel’s Inhumans references events from the season two finale of AoS.
If you don’t know anything about the Inhumans in the comics, you might feel lost with the television show. “Who are these characters and why should I care about them,” is not really dealt with in the first two episodes. Iwan Rheon’s Maximus is the most interesting of the main characters. His motivations are clear and sympathetic. It’s only when he channels Ramsay Bolton that we get a sense that he’s the villain.
Anson Mount does a good job of portraying Black Bolt. It must be a real challenge to portray a character that won’t talk. He has a regal bearing, but you can tell that he prefers to be kind and peaceful rather than cruel and violent. However, his answer to Maximus’ concerns is always “Trust your king”, but the audience never gets a sense of what Black Bolt might be planning to address those concerns. We certainly get to see why Maximus’ concerns are valid.
I don’t think Serinda Swan’s Medusa lives up to my expectations from the comics, though I don’t think it’s the actor’s fault. In the comics Black Bolt and Medusa are yin and yang. He’s silent and stoic. She’s vibrant and emotional. First impressions are always a question of who is really ruling Attilan. As we get to know the characters we understand that the two of them are so in sync that it’s obvious that Medusa is accurately representing Black Bolt.
In the television show, Medusa is regal, as she should be, but she is not as expressive as her comic book counterpart. In all the images of her we see from the show she is standing straight and stiff. Even her hair hangs straight. In the comics her presentation is always dynamic. She stands in power poses. Her hair is always in motion like the writhing snakes of her namesake. I understand the limitations of technology and budget, but we never see that dynamism from Medusa until after the coup and her hair is neutralized.
Karnak, played by Ken Leung, is also different from his comics counterpart. In the comics Karnak is able to find the weakness in any object or plan. In the show he is able to analyze a situation in an instant, and we get nifty CGI graphics to show this. I like this change to his abilities, but it does open some plot holes. The coup does not come as a surprise to him, but the extent of it does. Karnak should be the instigator of the royal family’s escape. Instead he efficiently adapts to the events as they unfold without activating any of the counters he should have had prepared.
Crystal is an enigma to me in the show just like she is in the comics. I never understood her powers or why she’s there. In the comics she always seems to be the proxy for the audience, giving us a chance to witness the events unfolding. In the show she is blasé about her royal duties and impulsive like a child. I hope Isabelle Cornish can make her a more interesting character.
Eme Ikwuakor’s Gorgon relies on his physical power too much for the role he has in the royal court. His demonstrations of his strategy and tactics explains why Maximus was so successful.
When Patrick and I left the theatre and discussed our thoughts on the show, we had to constantly remind ourselves that we had just watched the first two episodes of a television series, not a movie. The unanswered hints of plot threads and glaring questions are okay. Most of them should be addressed in the future. Like any series, there will be season one growing pains.
Hopefully this show will have a stronger connection to AoS than a throw-away line of dialogue. Daisy Johnson is an Inhuman. Events from the two shows need to influence each other. Was Jiaying, Daisy’s mother, and her group known to or working with Attilan? Why is it in AoS humans are killed by the terrigen mist, but in Attilan the mist either gives powers or leaves a person as an ordinary human. Do the residents of Attlian understand their connection to the Kree? How will Black Bolt and Maximus handle the growing number of powered Inhumans on Earth?
As a complete aside, I have to wonder if Marvel is ever going to make use of the Eternals and Deviants. Inhumans do work as surrogate mutants, and they do explain the existence of metahumans, but the Deviants could do this without having to have terrigen contaminate the water. The Celestials and Thanos have already been introduced to the MCU, so the groundwork exists. I would love to see any of the Marvel shows reveal that there has been a secret war going on since before humans became civilized.