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The Inhumans are one of those properties that has intrigued me ever since Marvel announced The Inhumans movie in 2018 as part of their Phase 3 press conference. After all, this is a whole race of people with naturally-occurring superpowers, which has lived distinct from humanity for millennia. The idea of ancient aliens experimenting on early humans in an effort to create a super-powered army only to have that army turn against them is a very interesting premise for a team of superheroes. The courtly drama of the Royal Family (and the “Royal Black Sheep”) is a very cool take on a common theme (cf. Thor and Loki).
Then two years ago Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. started exploring the Inhumans with the reveal that Skye was actually Daisy Johnson, a.k.a. Quake, and an unknown Inhuman. Not only were the Inhumans appearing sooner than expected, but they seemed poised to offer the first tangible tie-in going from the small-screen to the big-screen.
So imagine my disappointment when Marvel removed The Inhumans from the release schedule after pushing it back twice to make room for Spider-Man: Homecoming and Ant-Man and the Wasp. Kevin Feige said that he was still interested in the property, but I was worried that they would remain relegated to the small-screen with no hope of seeing the Royal Family mix it up with the Avengers.
And that’s what makes this week’s announcement so exciting: the Royal Family has been confirmed to headline their own miniseries on ABC!
That’s not the same as getting their own movie, but it might actually be better. Below we will talk about what we know so far about this miniseries, followed by rampant speculation about what it may mean for the MCU moving forward.
What We Know
Short answer: very little.
Long answer: The Inhumans is going to be an 8-episode miniseries and air on ABC in the fall of 2017(?). However, the first 2 episodes will be shown in theaters over the summer (they say IMAX, but I hope they will also show them in “normal” theaters, since there aren’t any IMAX theaters nearby). The miniseries will focus on the Inhuman Royal Family (Black Bolt, Medusa, and the rest). Also, this will not be a spinoff of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., making it unlikely that any of the Inhumans we have seen so far will appear.
Odds are pretty good that we will learn more (casting, showrunners, etc.) over the winter (particularly since they will need to start filming sooner than later), but that’s all we know for now.
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Why a Miniseries, and Why Now?
This is the part where we start speculating.
It has been stated already that this miniseries will have an impact on the larger MCU, so we need to ask the question, “How could it make such an impact?” I think the most obvious way it could make an impact is if this serves as the introduction for the Inhumans prior to their appearance as part of the climactic battle in Avengers: Infinity War. The timing of this miniseries airing the fall before that movie debuts can’t be a coincidence, particularly with the Russo brothers having stated that some characters who haven’t appeared yet in the MCU will also be part of that movie.
If we speculate that the Inhuman Royal Family will be appearing in Avengers: Infinity War, it becomes fairly obvious why they are making their debut in a miniseries which starts with a small-scale movie. The Inhumans are too big to just randomly show up in Avengers: Infinity War as a surprise cameo: why is there a whole race of super-powerful beings that have never shown up before? Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. answers some of these questions, but still hasn’t even touched the Royal Family. The Inhumans’ back story is also far too complicated to be given a throwaway line in an already-packed movie. Again, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has given a back story for the Inhumans as a race, but that covers the Inhumans who have been living among humans without being aware of their heritage; it does not cover the Royal Family and Attilan.
Both of these factors make it important for the Royal Family to receive something of an introduction before Avengers: Infinity War—but where? Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Thor: Ragnarok are both set for 2017 release dates, and are also both set off-Earth. However, James Gunn’s stated purpose in the Guardians sequel was to avoid introducing a lot of new characters so he can focus on the team he’s already introduced. Introducing an entire race of Earth-based superhumans with a complicated Kree-based back story doesn’t exactly fit with that purpose! Thor: Ragnarok would be another option, but that movie is also looking rather packed, particularly since it is playing around with elements of the “Planet Hulk” storyline in addition to the potential destruction of Asgard and all the Asgardians!
In any event, it makes far more sense to give the Royal Family their own movie which can which can show why they are more than just the version of the X-Men that Marvel Studios can use. Their own movie can delve into all of the family connections and drama and give a full and satisfactory explanation for their absence from the MCU for the last 8 years. That is something that just could not work if they are shoehorned into someone else’s movie.
Unfortunately, the release schedule is already full, with three movies set for release every year between now and 2020. Marvel can’t exactly move one of these movies to make room for The Inhumans, so TV is the logical alternative, especially if that gives them the opportunity to explore more of the characters’ personalities and abilities and relationships.
Or at least that’s my thinking. I could also be completely off-base.
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One definite possibility for The Inhumans—given that it is confirmed to focus on Attilan and the Royal Family rather than the new Inhumans—is to adapt one of the Inhumans miniseries which introduce and explore the culture and society of Attilan. This season/miniseries is unlikely to address relations between Attilan and humanity, as (to the best of our knowledge) the rest of the world is unaware of Attilan’s existence. Of the three I’ve read, only one (volume 2) assumes that humanity is unaware of Attilan. In this series the Kree (under the command of Ronin the Accuser) come to Attilan to reclaim the Inhumans as their super-powered army, take Attilan into space, and deploy the Inhumans against the Shi’ar. The series concludes with Black Bolt challenging Ronin to reassert his claim as King of the Inhumans. Following Black Bolt’s victory, the rest of the Inhumans choose to remain in space while the Royal Family returns to Earth.
Some adaptation of that storyline would provide an interesting exploration of Attilan’s culture as well as the family dynamics of the Royal Family. If it is set such that the Inhumans were involved in part of the Nova-Kree War but Black Bolt freed them from Ronin before Guardians of the Galaxy, the miniseries could focus on their return to Earth after decades away. This would essentially mean that they have been completely ignorant of the rise of the superheroes on Earth and would also account for their absence from the MCU to-date.
Another option would be to focus in entirely on the family dynamics by centering the story on an attempt by Maximus the Mad to overthrow Black Bolt and seize the throne for himself. Considering that the dynamic between Black Bolt and Maximus is the most interesting part of the Inhuman Royal Family, this would be a really good direction to take the miniseries. Besides, if you play your cards right with this, it can essentially turn into Game of Thrones with superpowers: courtly intrigue, shifting alliances, conflicting claims to the throne, all set against a major external threat (namely humanity)… The possibility of turning this into the MCU version of Game of Thrones has to have crossed Marvel’s minds.
|Image Courtesy en.wikipedia.org|
As I stated above, I fully expect the Inhumans to appear in at least one of the upcoming Avengers movies, particularly with the timing of this series making its debut next year. I may be the only one thinking this, but I’m fairly comfortable saying it. I doubt the Inhumans will play much of a role in Avengers: Infinity War, considering that we still haven’t even heard any casting rumors (beyond Vin Diesel teasing Black Bolt for the last 5 years!). If they cast the characters within the next 3-4 months (highly likely) it would still be possible for the Royal Family to appear in Infinity War in a minor role through reshoots.
Following the initial miniseries (and a potential Avengers: Infinity War appearance), the possibilities are pretty limitless. Marvel TV may continue with The Inhumans as a miniseries on ABC, focusing in on the family dynamics and courtly intrigue between Maximus and Black Bolt (keeping it as the Game of Thrones of the MCU). Marvel Studios could announce The Inhumans for a 2020 movie as a follow-up to Avengers 4. But I think the most interesting possibility is a combination of the two.
A major benefit of having such a large cast is that you can hide characters for a good portion of the movie (or the entire movie) to allow them to appear in other media filming around the same time. In talking about potential Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoffs over the summer, I mentioned the “All-New Inhumans” as a possibility for adaptation. This series focuses on Crystal and Gorgon leading and training Nuhumans and helping them adapt to their new powers. Next year’s The Inhumans could easily set this up for its second season by simply having Attilan become aware of new Inhumans appearing all around the Earth. Season 2 would then open with Black Bolt commissioning Crystal and Karnak (replacing Gorgon since ox legs would eat up an effects budget like nobody’s business—even if the studio is creating a flaming skull on a weekly basis right now!) to find the new Inhumans, help them understand their powers and heritage, and eventually bring them back to Attilan. The entire second season would then focus on Crystal and Karnak (and perhaps bring in Daisy, as well) bringing together new Inhumans, training them, and leading them against Inhumans who would use their powers to hurt people.
While this season is filming, the rest of The Inhumans cast could film a movie for 2020. Crystal and Karnak may appear in that movie, but they have a ready-made excuse for not being there. If the “All-New Inhumans” second season is well received, that team could make a small cameo appearance during The Inhumans movie (again, thanks to reshoots).
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The Inhumans as a property have interested me ever since it was announced to receive a movie and I started reading more of their stories. The Nuhumans do share a lot of similarities with the mutants, but the Inhuman Royal Family is much more than simple an X-Men stand-in. Unlike the mutants, the Inhumans have a long and proud history as a culture—one that built a technologically-advanced civilization centuries ahead of humanity. The Inhumans as a TV miniseries seems like the best solution for introducing these characters, accounting for their absence from the MCU thus far, and setting up their future appearances.
I am really excited to see Marvel moving forward with the Inhuman Royal Family, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next year!
Are you excited to see the Inhuman Royal Family on TV? What story do you want to see them adapt? Do you think they will make the jump from TV to movies? Let me know in the comments!