Sunday, March 15, 2015

How We Can See the Inhumans on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Image Courtesy

You know how everyone’s been complaining about the lack of costumed superheroes on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—and the lack of super powers in general?  I don’t think we need to worry about that any more.  In the first half of this season we met our first bona fide costumed superhero in Adrianne Palicki’s Bobbi Morse, aka Mockingbird, and in the midseason finale we met our first bona fide super-powered hero in Chloe Bennett’s Skye, aka Daisy, aka Quake.  And the dearth of superpowers is rapidly giving was to a positive glut of them in the form of the Inhumans!

Warning:  Spoilers for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

We’ve been introduced to at least five Inhumans so far in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and can look forward to meeting many more, as at least one Inhuman character has been cast for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. but has not appeared.  Here’s a quick rundown of whom we’ve met:
  • Skye/Daisy – Daughter of an Inhuman mother and human(?) father, Skye was raised without any understanding of who she was or what she was.  In the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2 midseason finale, she underwent Terrigenesis.  She retained her normal human appearance, but now has the ability to generate earthquakes.  Her powers haven’t been fully displayed yet.
  • Raina – An Inhuman woman who grew up with some mental preparation for the Terrigenesis process thanks to her (Inhuman?) grandmother, as mentioned in “Aftershocks” (2x11).  We don’t know too much about her life before going to work for Hydra/Centipede/Garrett, but I would hazard a guess that her family was part of an Inhuman offshoot which did not live in a regular Inhuman settlement; otherwise she probably would have undergone Terrigenesis at a much younger age.  Likewise, she talks about being part of a group of gifted individuals, which suggests that there may have been a group which left Attilan(?) together and over time lost any conception of “Inhumans” but retained the knowledge that something made them special as compared to regular humans.  After undergoing Terrigenesis in “Aftershocks” with Skye/Daisy, Raina grew thorns or quills all over her body (seemingly replacing all her hair) as well as sharp talon-like claws.  Thus far she hasn’t manifested any other abilities.
  • Jiaying –Mother of Skye and wife of Doctor Cal(vin Zabo?).  We first met her in “The Things We Bury” (2x08) when Whitehall/Reinhardt discovered that she could touch the Obelisk without harm.  “Aftershocks” makes it clear that Jiaying had already undergone Terrigenesis at the time and knew what the Diviner was and what it could do.  Due to Terrigenesis, Jiaying was given an exceptionally long lifespan, though her physical appearance was unaltered.  We didn’t see her display any other abilities.  She used her long life to guide several generations of Inhumans through Terrigenesis, as she is shown doing in a flashback at the beginning of “Aftershocks.”  She was subsequently vivisected(!) by Whitehall in “The Things We Bury”; he used her organs to give himself an extended lifespan and renewed youth.
  • Gordon – Appeared briefly in the end-credits scene of “What They Become” (2x10) as an adult, offering a tease of a larger interconnected Inhuman society and demonstrating that there are more Diviners out there and that they can sense when a Terrigen Crystal has been activated.  The beginning of “Aftershocks” shows the results of Terrigenesis on him: he looks otherwise like a normal human except that he does not have eyes, and he also now has the ability to teleport himself.  The end of the episode shows his full teleportation effect, along with the ability to generate a force field around multiple people.
  • That Chinese dude from “Aftershocks” (assumed)
  • Lincoln (not yet introduced) – All we know about him is that he will help introduce Skye and/or Raina into Inhuman culture, society, and history.
We can also make some educated guesses about characters who will be identified as Inhumans in the future—primarily on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but also in the movies:

Image Courtesy
  • This week’s episode, “One of Us” (2x13), introduces a team of super-powered individuals which Doctor Cal brings together to “wreak a little havoc” and make Skye realize that she needs him.  Could some of those individuals be Inhumans?  It seems likely that at least a couple will be, since Cal already knows about them from his wife.
  • The Avengers: Age of Ultron will introduce Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, characters whose origin story has been changed around multiple times in the comics.  They were thought to be the children of Golden-Age heroes Whizzer and Miss America and semi-connected to the High Evolutionary.  Then they were mutants and the children of Magneto.  Now they’ve been revealed in the comics to no longer be Magneto’s children.  Could they be Inhumans?  Possibly; The Avengers: Age of Ultron Prelude comic book describes them as having volunteered for a program in which von Strucker experimented on them and unlocked dormant abilities which they already possessed.  That sounds pretty similar to what happens in Terrigenesis, though so far as I know there is no mention of crystals being involved beyond Loki’s scepter, now identified as the Mind Gem.
  • Of the announced Phase 3 MCU movies introducing new characters, only one lead strikes me as open to reinterpretation as an Inhuman:  Captain Marvel.  Her origin is already closely-tied to the Kree, like that of the Inhumans, so it would be possible for them to say that she is some sort of super-special Inhuman if they don’t want to delve too deeply into her comic book origin.  However, that would take away some of what makes her unique as a character, so I doubt they will do that.
  • However, any and all of the Phase 3 movies could introduce supporting characters who are Inhuman.  Captain America: Civil War is already shaping up to be a huge ensemble film, so what’s one more character?  They could start laying big-screen seeds for The Inhumans by having Black Bolt make a surprise appearance at the UN alongside Black Panther while the world leaders are discussing registration of gifted individuals.  After all, who could be more concerned about that development than the leader of an entire species of “gifted individuals”?

Image Courtesy
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is certainly going to introduce a number of new Inhuman characters this season; you can’t blow our minds twice in as many episodes with first Terrigenesis and second incredible teleportation effects and then just not give us anything more.  And it is this subject which I would like to discuss today.  How can they bring Inhumans into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. believably?

When the Inhumans were first teased, a lot of fans were concerned that they would look cheap and campy.  After all, how can you make the Inhumans believable on a TV budget?  Surprisingly, it’s not as hard as you would think.  I’m not an expert on this, but I’ve done about as much research as any other Internet “expert,” so here goes:

Image Courtesy
The first aspect of a character to take into consideration is appearance.  Obviously, the easiest and least-expensive appearance is that of a regular human.  This may be why three of the five Inhumans who’ve been introduced on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. look 100% like regular humans.  Related to this would be the makeup they use on Gordon to give him the appearance of having no eyes.  I don’t know whether or not they use makeup and prosthetics on his face, but it would certainly be possible to do so believably.

Surprisingly, even extensive prosthetics and makeup are also relatively inexpensive.  Good makeup artists can create something incredibly believable without breaking the bank.  And if you don’t believe me, just check out the SyFy series Face Off:  Even when put under the wire the top contestants on that show can create something high-quality and realistic using just makeup, prosthetics, wardrobe, and props—no CGI necessary.  Hence Raina’s transformation makes use of prosthetics and makeup, and yet it looks every bit as realistic as a CGI character like Rocket Raccoon does.

Naturally, CGI would be the most expensive way to create a character’s appearance since it would need to be done for every shot with that character.  I just don’t think it would be feasible to use more than a couple CGI characters on a TV series (and even then only as guest appearances/cameos).

The second aspect of the character to take into consideration is their abilities.  These can also use the three techniques mentioned above.  The easiest and probably least-expensive option is for their abilities to be enhanced senses, strength, etc.  Super reflexes and acrobatics can be accomplished through choreography and stunts; some fights already look more-than-human in that way!  Other abilities are simply a matter of makeup and costuming, such as Raina’s talons.  Super strength is also really easy to portray with inexpensive effects:  give a guy a real-looking plastic car frame to throw around and it looks like he’s throwing around a real car.  This would be why three of the Inhumans introduced so far have very basic abilities which are easy to portray on-screen (longevity, evil-looking talon-fingers, or no discernable abilities).

They can also use other practical effects to show things like Skye’s earthquake powers (some of the time).  If she tried destroying an entire continent it would probably need CGI, but lesser things like breaking windows can be accomplished practically.  Another example from Season One would be Blackout, the guy who could absorb energy—the sequence with him turning off streetlights was all done with practical effects.  I would suspect that a lot of the characters who use their powers regularly will fall into either of these two categories.

The last option would be CGI, of course.  They must have used CGI for the teleportation effects in “Aftershocks,” and any of the more “fantastic” abilities would probably need CGI, as well.  CGI is expensive, of course, but can still be done on a TV budget, as Flash proves again and again.  Regardless, I would expect Marvel to be judicious with their use of CGI.  I don’t think characters with CGI-generated powers are out of the question, but they probably won’t be using their powers extremely often.

Given all of this discussion about how the character’s appearance and powers can be shown on a TV budget, the next question is “Which Inhumans could they feasibly use on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?”  Since there are just so many of them, I’ll look exclusively at the Inhuman Royal Family.

I’ve read plenty of comments online saying that the Royal Family isn’t going to show up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; they’re going to save them for The Inhumans movie.  And while Marvel may indeed decide to save the Royal Family for the movie, it won’t have anything to do with expense.  After all, if the TV side can get big-name movie actors like Jaimie Alexander and Dominic Cooper to appear in a couple episodes—and they can build an entire series around a movie actress in Hayley Atwell—then it’s not much of a leap for them to introduce a character on the TV series who is pretty much guaranteed to appear on the big screen in the future (*cough*Mockingbird*cough*).  If they want Black Bolt, Medusa, and the rest to play any sort of role in The Avengers: Infinity War, they’re going to have to at least introduce some of them with cameos before 2018/19, since those movies will be loaded with characters.  And why not give that introduction to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the property that’s already introducing The Inhumans?

In terms of effects, any of the members of the Royal Family would be possible for a smaller role, though Medusa’s hair could prove to be a problem.  I mean, how many millions of dollars would it cost for her hair to shake Coulson’s hand (at least in a believable way)?  Likewise, Gorgon’s legs would probably need some CGI touch-ups to sell that dude’s got ox legs.  Lockjaw would probably need to be an entirely CGI character, making it unlikely that he would appear—and besides, they’ve already got someone with his teleportation power on the show in Gordon.  Triton wouldn’t necessarily need a ton of CGI, just body paint and prosthetics, so he’s a slightly-better possibility.

That still leaves four members of the Inhuman Royal Family whom I think are good bets (from an effects and story standpoint) to appear on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The first and most obvious would be Crystal.  In the comics she already acts as an ambassador for the Inhumans.  In appearance she is just a normal human woman; in abilities she can control the four classical elements (something we’ve seen already from Scorch).  And considering that this is a Whedon show we’re talking about, who better than a strong female character for them to bring to life?  I think Joss Whedon would love the opportunity to use Crystal.

The second and only slightly-less-obvious option is Karnak.  He looks like a regular human, and all his abilities are mental.  In story terms he’s a cousin to Black Bolt, making him far-enough removed from the Royals to conceivably be going on adventures among the humans, yet close enough to believably serve as an ambassador to the other Inhuman settlements for Black Bolt.

A third option, which may be a little out of left-field, is for Maximus the Mad to make a couple appearances.  Like Karnak, he looks like a regular human and his abilities are all mental, so from that perspective he is an ideal candidate.  In terms of story, his appearance on the show could be part of a longer arc which sees him descend into madness and become the primary antagonist for The Inhumans movie down the line.

Image Courtesy
Fourth—and finally—Black Bolt.  The King looks like a regular human.  His abilities are earth-shattering in every possible way, but he doesn’t use them often.  In this sense he could easily appear on a small-screen budget.  As far as a story, how’s this for the last scene of this season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:  One or the other of the Inhumans we meet takes Skye and/or Raina to a secret location with the cryptic explanation that “he wants to meet you.”  A pair of ornate doors open seemingly by themselves, and they all walk into a large room, empty except for a dais with a number of steps up to it.  The Inhumans bow and say, “Thank you for seeing us, King Blackagar.”  The last shot of the season is straight out of the comics:  Black Bolt in costume, sitting on his ornate throne, looking stoic.  And it’s not until after the episode airs that they make an announcement that Vin Diesel reworked his contract to appear in another half-dozen movies as Black Bolt so we don’t see it coming.  Can you say, “epic”?

No comments:

Post a Comment