I’ll admit, I was more than a little hesitant when I heard the concept of Inhumans. Although Marvel has a good track record in turning obscure comic books into bankable properties, the concept just seems so bizarre. Inhumans featured a Royal Family of genetically modified super humans hiding out on the moon away from the rest of civilization. Due to Marvel’s not having the rights to X-men, the idea of introducing a genetically enhanced team included within the Marvel Cinematic Universe seemed to be an obvious bootleg attempt to have mutants without having mutants. Added onto the fact that Marvel was having such a hard time in deciding how they wanted to use the property. First, it was a movie, then it was a TV show, now it’s a short movie that’s going to be a tv show; the odds that this property was actually being adopted seemed to be slim.
I was swayed from my initial convictions after dusting off a few Wikipedia pages, learning about their convoluted comic book history, and watching Agents of Shield’s newer season where the concept of Inhumans was first introduced. The idea of a dysfunctional family battling internally for a throne but with the added benefit of having superpowers and being set in the MCU seemed like an obvious opportunity to make a PG-13 Game of Thrones inspired epic. Unfortunately, the show does little in its first two episodes to make it seem like it’s headed in that direction.
We’re introduced to Medusa (Serinda Swan), an inhuman with the ability to animate her hair psionically, the queen of Atilan. She speaks for her partner and king, Black Bolt (Anson Mount), the silent ruler who can decimate worlds with his sonic voice. Other characters making up the Royal Family include Crystal (Isabelle Cornish) who can control all four elements, Karnak (Ken Leung) who can determine every possible outcome to a given scenario, and Gorgon, (Eme Ikwuakor) an inhuman with hooves for feet.
Despite the bevy of intriguing powers, it’s Maximus, played by Game of Thrones alumni Iwan Rheon, who acts as the most sympathetic and interesting character of the series. Playing the human, younger brother of Black Bolt, I almost wish we could’ve spent more time learning about his character. Tired of living in secret on a desolate domed city far from their true home, Maximus envisions leaving the obscurity of the moon for the greener pastures of Earth, much to the chagrin of Black Bolt and the rest of the Royal Family. His true motivations for doing so obviously remain to be seen, but the episodes do a good job at establishing him as a complicated antagonist.
In fact, it’s the Royal Family that seem to come off as less than heroic, gliding across marble corridors as lesser inhumans bow to them and work in mines under the moon. When Black Bolt suggests that they bring in more inhumans from Earth (a nice tie-in with Agent of Shield) I even agree with Maximus as he points out how limited their resources already are. None too surprisingly, Maximus plans a coup in order to remove his family from power.
By the time the Royal Family is deposed, I’m more on Maximus’ side than anyone else’s. He’s a revolutionary with some admittedly problematic ways of accomplishing his goals (trying to kill everyone is still bad, guys), but his heart seems to be in the right place! Added onto the fact that every single member of the Royal family is dispatched and thrown off the moon so easily, it’s hard not to be disappointed with their ability to fight in general, let alone their ability to fight effectively for their people.
The rest of the movie follows the Royal Family’s attempts to find one another on Earth and reclaim the throne on the Moon. However, up until this point, we’ve hardly gotten to know these characters so their exile and separation from one another hardly feels like the emotional gut punch that the show seems to be going for in only the first two episodes. Think Game of Thrones airing the Red Wedding only during the first episode of the second season and you’d get how the beginning of this series plays out. Would-be emotional moments are undercut by the fact that we don’t really care about any of these characters yet.
It remains to be seen if Inhumans can subvert mine and audience’s initial perceptions in order to create a more cohesive show during its 8-episode ABC run. However, like the Marvel addict that I am, I’ll still be waiting, entrenched in a blanket and dying to see what happens next.
Inhumans is in IMAX theaters now and the rest of the series airs on ABC starting September 29th.