Friday, March 13, 2015

What Do We Know about the Inhumans (Or “That Funny-Looking Blue Guy (Sure Plays a Mean Clarinet)”)

Image Courtesy

Wow.  We found out a lot about the Kree, the Inhumans, and their shared past in the last episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “Who You Really Are.”  However, how much do we really know?  Let’s recap.  Warning:  Spoilers ahead for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and the comics.

Lady Sif of Asgard and Vin-Tak of the Kree descend on earth—Vin-Tak to hunt down those who were changed (meaning Raina and Skye), and Sif to hunt down Vin-Tak.  They fight, Sif has a bad run in with a neuralyzer from Men in Black, Coulson and team help her figure out her mission, and eventually Vin-Tak winds up as a S.H.I.E.L.D. prisoner.  Vin-Tak then has to explain his mission to Sif, Coulson, May, and Skye.  What follows is my *rough* transcription of their conversation:

Vin-Tak:    “If you know Kree history then perhaps you’ve heard the tale of Terrigenesis.”
Sif:            “Ancient Kree descending on planets, altering the inhabitants to fight their war.”
Vin-Tak:    “Earth was one of them.”
Skye:         [whispered] “Blue angels who fell from the sky...”
Vin-Tak:    “Eons ago the Kree waged a very long war.  Casualties were high and they needed more soldiers.”
May:          [interjects] “You mean ‘cannon fodder.’”
Vin-Tak:    “We needed killers.  One vicious faction among the Kree genetically modified other creatures’ DNA.  These modifications can be activated with Terrigen Crystals.”
Sif:            “We know these torturous experiments failed.

Vin-Tak:    “Not on earth.  Here we had to shut them down.  This faction had built a city.  They brought with them the diviners, which hold the Crystals.  Their plans were discovered and thwarted by the better of my kind, putting an end to that dark chapter of our past.”
Vin-Tak:    “If the Kree Empire learned that these experiments were a success they would be likely to renew them.”
Image Courtesy

Thus far, this is all we know for certain about the Inhumans in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  The Kree were involved in a major cosmic war and in need of soldiers, so they conducted genetic experimentation on a number of different species to create “super soldiers” whom they could recruit to fight in their war.  The genetic modifications are activated by Terrigen Crystals.

According to Sif, all of the Kree experiments failed.  However, Vin-Tak confirms that the experimentation on humans was successful.  According to Vin-Tak, the Kree scientists responsible for the experimentation founded a city and brought the Diviners to Earth.  The more level-headed Kree put an end to the experimentation and presumably wiped out any trace of its results.

This is all we can say with any certainty from “Who You Really Are.”  However, we can fill in a few more of the pieces by comparing what was revealed on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to what we know from the comics.  Note:  most of this information comes from Wikipedia, not directly from the comics.

Skrull-Captain America, Courtesy
“The war” – In the comics, the Kree are engaged in a centuries-long war against a race called the Skrulls.  If you’ve seen the animated series Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, they were the green guys that could shape-shift to infiltrate an organization as one of their own.  Consequently, the Kree began experimentation as a way to create their own army of beings able to infiltrate other alien societies—the Inhumans.

“Planets” (plural) – In the comics, the primary group of Inhumans which we learn about are early humans who were taken and experimented on, but they are not the only group.  Other races, including the Centaurians, Dire Wraiths, Kymellians, and Badoons, have their own subset of Inhumans.  According to Sif and Vin-Tak, experimentation on other planets failed, but considering how much success there seems to have been on Earth (which happened without the Kree knowing; more on that later), could we eventually be introduced to the “Universal Inhumans”—the product of Kree experimentation on other planets?  At this point nothing would surprise me.

“We shut them down”:  In the episode, Vin-Tak asserts that before the Inhumans could be pressed into service, the Kree left earth and abandoned the project—he claims that this was because “the better of my kind” put an end to it.  However, in the comics, the Kree experimentation on the Inhumans did not end because a group of altruistic pacifist Kree didn’t want their race exploiting other sentient life forms for military purposes.  Rather, the experimentation ended because “a genetic prophecy has predicted that the experiments would eventually lead to an anomaly who would destroy the Kree Supreme Intelligence” (their leader).  In other words, it was self-preservation which caused the Kree to stop.  This is radically different than Vin-Tak’s story, but it makes sense:  why would he tip off a member of the Inhumans that one of its kind would eventually destroy the Kree leader?  It’s amazing how often “He lied” is an adequate explanation for seeming contradictions in the MCU!  Now, will this prophecy play a part in future movies?  Only time will tell.

“A city” – Could this be our first reference to Attilan, the Inhumans’ city?  In the episode, Coulson takes this to mean the underground city in Puerto Rico, but Vin-Tak never explained where this city was or even if it was underground.  It’s entirely possible that there is another city out there which is even more technologically-advanced than the underground city—which for all we know was nothing but a research facility.  After all, why would the Diviners be in Portugal when the city is in Puerto Rico?

Image Courtesy
“If the Kree Empire learned that these experiments were a success they would be likely to renew them” – This sets up some serious future conflict between the Inhumans and the Kree.  In the comics this played out when Ronan the Accuser (a Kree—but you already knew that from Guardians of the Galaxy) invaded Attilan and turned the Inhumans into his personal slaves.  When the Inhumans had had enough, Black Bolt challenged Ronan to a single-combat to win his people’s freedom from Kree control.  Perhaps in the future we will see this play out on the big screen (say in Inhumans 2 or 3).

That’s all we can gather from “Who You Really Are.”  However, based on “Aftershocks” (2x11) and a couple other Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes, we can fill in a few more pieces regarding the Inhumans.

For one thing, when the Kree experiments were ended, they did not eradicate the products of that experimentation; like in the comics, they seem to have left them to their own devices.  As a result, there is something of an Inhuman culture and society on Earth hidden among/from the regular humans.  This culture knows its history, knows that it is different, and even has the ability to unlock its genetic potential through the use of Terrigen Crystals (stored in those five other Diviners).  As of 1983, they had been practicing Terrigenesis for a long time (multiple generations at the very least) under the supervision of Jiaying, Skye’s mother.

We do not know whether Terrigenesis is a relatively-recent development in Inhuman culture following a rediscovery of the Diviners, or whether they’ve been practicing it ever since the Kree left.  My gut instinct at this time is that they’ve been doing it all along, but that doesn’t explain how the Kree (who can apparently detect the signal when a Diviner is activated) haven’t noticed and come back to stop them before now.  My only thought on that is that they’ve found a way to activate a Diviner in numerous places, and it will only send a signal that the Kree can detect when it is activated in the original city/laboratory.  Regardless, we will probably learn the answers to most of these questions by the end of this season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

And that’s pretty much it as far as we know or can guess about the Inhumans in the MCU.

Image Courtesy
Taking everything Vin-Tak and Sif said about the Inhumans into account, the first thing that should strike us is:  “wow, these ‘atrocities’ are horrible and evil and need to be put down before they rip the planet apart”—or at least that’s the first thing that goes through Skye’s mind on hearing them talk.  However, we need to consider the source.  After all, a Kree’s understanding of Inhuman culture and history will be vastly different than an Inhuman’s understanding.  Hopefully we will meet an Inhuman soon who can explain to Skye (and the audience) just what the Inhumans have been up to since the Kree pulled up stakes and left the planet—and hopefully he will put a more positive spin on things!

What do you think of my description of the Inhumans and their relationship with the Kree?  Did I leave anything out?  How do you think they will fill in the blank spots in our understanding of Inhuman history and culture?

My next article will be a look ahead toward next week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode, “One of Us.”  Since we may be meeting a couple more Inhumans next week, I was wondering just how Marvel can bring Inhumans into their universe from a budget and effects standpoint.  Surprisingly, it is extremely easy; check back on Sunday to see why!

1 comment:

  1. Bonus points to anyone who can identify the second part of the title!