Written by The Nerdling
The newest Marvel TV show has some big issues, but there is potential for a better show lingering in the dreadful dialogue, B-movie costumes, and substandard CGI.
Who Are These People?
Marvel’s Inhumans centers on the royal family living in the cloaked city of Attillan on the moon. Led by King Black Bolt (Anson Mount), who’s voice is so powerful he could crush a person or blow up a car with just a whisper, and his wife Medusa (Serinda Swan), gifted with powerful, snake-like hair. Rounding out the family are Medusa’s sister, Crystal (Isabelle Cornish) who can manipulate heat or cold, her teleporting dog, Lockjaw, and Black Bolt’s brother, Maximus (Iwan Rheon). Despite going through Terrigenesis, Maximus has no discernable powers and a massive inferiority complex. Other colorful characters include the “visionary” Karnak (Ken Leung), the hoof-footed leader of the royal guard, Gorgon (Eme Ikuakor), and Maximus’ right hand gal in the guard, Auran (Sonya Balmores).
After Black Bolt and Maximus clash heads once again over the growing threat of discovery by humans, Maximus gathers guards loyal to him and stages a coup. Black Bolt, Medusa, Gorgon, and Karnak escape to Earth with the help of Lockjaw, but are scattered across the Hawaiian Islands. Maximus seizes the throne in their absence and looks to gain support from the citizens of Attillan to invade Earth and rule the humans.
A truncated version of the first two episodes are showing in IMAX theaters for the next week and a half. The full version of both will premiere on ABC September 29th with the remaining six airing every Friday.
Trouble in Paradise
Inhumans has the premise to be the Marvel’s version of Game of Thrones, but the potential is squandered by the showrunner. Scott Buck, who helmed the first season of Iron Fist (as well as the final three seasons of Dexter), is the executive producer here. How you felt about the Netflix series will probably reflect your enjoyment of the latest ABC show. If you liked Iron Fist, or at least didn’t completely hate it, Inhumans could be a show for you. But if you wanted to repeatedly punch Danny Rand with his own glowy fist, I would skip.
Many of the same troubles with Iron Fist plague Inhumans. No one seems to know what to do with or how to write for these characters. Maximus is like a Diet Dr. Pepper version of Loki. None of the great taste or satisfaction from something that is so bad for you. He doesn’t come off as the charming big bad, more like a petulant child demanding the crown because he wasn’t blessed with special powers like his brother. Medusa does what she does because she loves her husband, but where is the rest of her personality?
This lack of understanding leads to cringe-worthy dialogue, one-dimensional portrayals, and unintentionally funny moments. The best/worst is a flashback to the death of Black Bolt and Maximus’ parents. Everyone in the theater laughed. Not small chuckles. Out loud guffaws.
The costumes are just awful. I think the best description came from IGN reviewer, Joshua Yehl comparing their appearance to, “a group of friends [who] decided to do Inhumans cosplay the day before Comic-Con.” How is it a group of people living on the moon who talk about food and supply shortages have access to all of the leather? Are there cows on the moon? Does the royal family have a minion make secret Wilson’s Leather runs?
The Medusa CGI wig is the worst of it all. It looks horrendous when hanging lifeless on her head. It is even worse when animated. Thankfully there is a twist at the tail end of the first half which helps solve that problem.
Filming with IMAX cameras in a stunning location like Hawaii would have been a great idea if done right. Enough to forgive the industrial-bland look of Attillan. Too bad director Roel Reiné couldn’t find a way use the technology to make the story, tropical setting, or action visually interesting. There was no grand scope to the plot to warrant the IMAX treatment. Maximus’ mutiny and the escape to Hawaii could have been made epic in IMAX, but the writers and director were thinking too small.
It Can’t Be All Bad
With all of the flaws I’ve mentioned and several I didn’t hit on here, there are little nuggets of good buried in the first two episodes. Gorgon may steal many of his scenes with his exuberant personality, but Karnak is easily the MVP. Leung’s dry delivery of Karnak’s hyper-analytical thoughts provided the show’s best intentional bids at comedy. Cornish is not the greatest of actresses, but Crystal’s youth and naiveté provides a jolt of spunkiness needed in this cast. Lockjaw is adorable. I just want to scratch his ears and give him a big hug.
The best surprise was Mount’s handling of Black Bolt’s muteness once he arrives in Hawaii. In Attillan, Medusa translates her husband’s sign-language. Once he is separate from the one person who understands him, he is left with finding other means of communicating with the human locals and the audience. Mount really allowed his facial expressions and charm to shine, allowing us to understand exactly what is going on in his mind without a need for a translator.
Pilot episodes of other good shows in the past have also been not-so-great. Once filming fully gets underway, it becomes easier for everyone to understand and grow their characters. With so much wrong, it is hard to see how Inhumans will course correct enough to gain the audience needed to exist past the eight-episode run this fall. Canning Scott and most of the writing staff might be a good step one.
I’m willing to give Inhumans a chance, but Marvel has earned a lot of credits from me. Also, I will be recapping the show here starting at the end of this month.
Did you go see the Inhumans IMAX Experience? What did you think? Will you be back on September 29th for the premiere?
The Nerdling was born in the majestic land known as Texas and currently resides there after several years of journeying through Middle Earth in a failed attempt to steal the one Ring from that annoying hobbit, serving the Galactic Empire for a time, and then a short stint as a crew member on the Serenity. Since moving back to her homeland, Nerdling flirted with a hero reputation. Saving children from the dangers of adoring domineering, sparkly vampires (champions with souls are the only vampires worth loving) and teaching normals the value of nerdom, all while rooting for her beloved Dallas Stars. Then came the Sokovia Accords and her short spell of saving others came to an end. With Darth Vader’s reputation rightfully returning to badass status, Nerdling is making her way back to the Empire. They do have cookies, you know. You can find her on Twitter @nerdlingstale.