The Problem with Marvel’s Inhumans
Tonight we see the return of Marvel’s Agents of Shield, a very good show. That’s not what I’m here to discuss, I’m here to discuss the show that was running in it’s time slot until very recently, Marvel’s Inhumans, a very bad show.
Inhumans for those of you who don’t know is about a group of altered humans who live in a secret high tech city (Attilan) hidden on the moon. These Inhumans have both a monarchy and a caste system and everything goes to shit when the kings brother decides to overthrow him and become king himself. The king and the rest of the royal family are forced to escape to Earth and regroup before they can return to the moon and reclaim Attilan. Sounds simple enough right? Well they managed to fuck that up every step of the way and produced a godawful show.
I don’t know how well this show did as far as viewer numbers went but boy did people not like this show. And why is that? Well, let’s go over the many ways that this show failed and probably shouldn’t have aired in the first place.
Spoilers for Inhumans to follow
1. The heroes were never heroes in first place
Let’s start with the big one first, in that the “heroes” of this show were the royal family ruling over a repressive society where vast numbers of their people were forced to work in the mines below the city if they didn’t get a superpower from Terragenesis (a process that gives people superpowers) that (I guess) was cool enough to put them in a higher position. To make matters worse the royal clearly does not give a shit about this even when they have all this thrown in their face they still don’t care. I honestly think that by the end of the series none of them had ever renounced the caste and in fact it still seems to be in place based on the ending. Which brings me to:
2. These people were really unlikable
There was a single likable person among the “heroes” and that’s a huge problem when you’re trying to get people engaged in adventures and actions of the main characters. Aside from the stuff in the previous point what was wrong with them? Let’s over over that one by one:
- Black Bolt: Our king and nominal lead protagonist. Black Bolts super power is a voice that causes destruction whenever he makes any sort of noise and as such is forced to stay mute most of the time. Now there’s nothing wrong with doing a mute character but it usually helps if the person playing them can emote and based on the performance of Anson Mount I would say no. So this meant that we spent nearly all of Black Bolts scenes with him just making blank expressions at everything.
- Medusa: The Queen of Attilan with the power of prehensile hair. You know I’ll be honest, prior to the show I thought that Medusa was going to be the most unlikable character in the bunch based on the casting of Serinda Swan, an actress who in every role I’ve seen her in, played some very unlikable characters. Now much to my surprise she was not the worst character on this show but boy was she was a close second. Damn near every scene she was in involved her being extremely unpleasant to the people around her or talking about how inferior humans were or throwing her weight around as queen in ways that I’m not sure how they supposed to make her likable (I’m not sure period if anyone here was supposed to be likable but that’s a discussion for a later point).
- Crystal: Medusa’s little sister with power over the elements (not that the show ever explained this), basically take all of Medusa bad traits and stick them in someone who acts even more so like a bratty teenage girl and you’ve got Crystal. Her actress (Isabelle Cornish) was by far the worst actress on this show and she basically dragged down every scene she was in (Medusa at least moved the plot forward).
- Karnak: Black Bolt’s cousin and advisor with the powers to understand things (I guess, his power was poorly explained), I actually liked Karnak at points in this show as he was a snarky and entertaining guy and played by Ken Leung but as the show went on he acquired more and more worse elements that just made his character very unlikable by the end.
- Gorgon: Another cousin of Black Bolt who was the captain of the royal guard and had hooves and super strength. Here’s another character that I started off as liking but kind of got sick of by the end (not to the extent as I did Karnak but still) his problems mostly stemmed from being given the second most boring story on the show (more on that in a bit).
- Triton: Karnak’s brother who was basically a fishman, why was he not in the main cast picture at the start of the point? Because he was supposedly dead for most of the show. Ironically that made him the most likable of the main characters because he was only around for a short time and most of that time was spent kicking ass.
- Lockjaw: The families giant teleporting dog. The best thing about this show.
So yeah i should mention at this point that the royal family when they were forced to flee the moon all ended up split up into different places around Hawaii where they each met and acquired a human companion who (tried, I should emphasize) to teach them that humans don’t suck, an attitude shared by everyone in the royal family though it came up the most with Medusa and Crystal.
Now I emphasized tried back there because mostly these story lines just sucked. Gorgon met some native Hawaii surfers/ex-soldiers who decided to help him in his war against Maximus because the US forced Hawaii not to have a king anymore (Hawaii’s last monarch was a queen but hey, why be accurate?) before they promptly disappeared.
Karnak banged his head and ended up working for some pot growers before one of them went insane the Karnak killed him. He also got laid with a lady pot grower whose entire dialogue mostly consisted of self help lines.
Crystal ended up kissing some dude who accidentally ran over Lockjaw and who got summoned his ex girlfriend to give medical aid to (They preceded to have a love triangle, it was dumb).
Medusa met Louise, a scientist for some NASA like organization investigating the moon. Louise is notable for being the most involved of these characters and for being the only one to stick around until the end.
And finally we had Black bolt meeting Sammy, a fellow inmate (Black Bolt stole some clothes) and Inhuman who could super heat surfaces.
Pretty much every single one of these human characters was extremely mistreated by their royal family members, particularly Sammy who got ditched by Black Bolt twice and was kidnapped by the villains several times and Black Bolt did not care.
Louise also got involved Medusa by being held at gun point and forced to help her in her quest to find Black Bolt. Louise went along with it because she was interested in the Inhumans and wished to learn more (She got basically nothing for her efforts except almost fired, killed, and arrested).
So yeah why would you root for any of these people? Who would you put them against to try and gain some sympathy for? Well, the answers not good:
Oh Maximus, fucking Maximus. He was the brother to Black Bolt and the shows main villain, which is a big problem because in presentation he was also the shows biggest hero. Maximus decides to overthrow his brother at the start of the story after he gets told by the kid from the picture in point 1 that he would succeed in doing so. Sounds villainous so far right? Well, here’s the thing, prior to his coup Maximus was the hero of the common folk as his Terragenesis turned him into a regular human and so he spent a lot of time with the lower caste peoples and endeared himself to them. So when he staged his coup pretty much everyone was behind it because not only did he get rid of the oppressive royal family he also abolished the caste system and shut down the genetic council (The group in charge of Terragenesis) for their awful rules.
He doesn’t exactly sound like a bad guy now does he? No he does not. Now that’s not to say that he wasn’t a bad guy though as as a person Maximus was a creepy short tempered self centered asshole who basically overthrew his brother for selfish reasons and murdered or attempted to murder a large number of people during the shows run and was ultimately responsible for destroying Attilan in the end.
But see that’s kind of the problem, because while he started out as a character with good intentions even if he was doing thing for the wrong reasons and he slowly acquired more and more negative traits later none of the heroes acquired positive traits so by the end there was basically no one left to root for on this show.
What about Maximus’s followers? He had help right? He sure did and they made things even worse. His followers were basically all people down the ladder rung that wanted a better life and for the most part they all end up either dead or beat up for their troubles by the royal family and then got talked down to for wanting a better place in life. But the one who got it the worst is Mordis.
Mordis is a an Inhuman who got locked away for years. What his crime? Having super destructive powers. Seriously, that’s it. The guy himself is kind of a snarky asshole but he never does anything to suggest that he’s a bad person who deserved to be locked up. His sin was that he powerful and he was locked up for it and again the royal family doesn’t care.
I feel like all of this comes from Scott Buck because the same character problems this show had were also present in Iron Fist. Specifically giving heroic characters needlessly negative traits (Like making Iron Fist a deserter of his duties when he was no such thing in the comics.) I don’t know what the point of making any of the protagonists unlikable was but all it did was kill any chance of making people care about this show.
4. Where was this shows special effects budget?
So yeah besides all our unlikable heroes I don’t know where this shows budget went because by the end of the first episode they all had pretty much lost access to their powers. Seriously a show about super powered people who for the most part don’t have access to their powers.
So what did they do to accomplish this? Karnak took his aforementioned head bump and suddenly couldn’t understand things anymore, Gorgon spent most of the show wearing boots, Crystal never really used her powers (Or again explained what they were), Lockjaw kept getting taken out of action, Triton spent most of the show apparently dead, Black Bolt of course didn’t talk, and most egregiously of all Medusa got her head shaved with some cheap looking razor you could probably find at CVS.
Even worse none of the special effects looked that good to begin with which raises the question of where did all the money for this shows effects budget go? Because no matter how you swing it this show was always going to require a big special effects budget and it apparently didn’t get it.
And it’s not like that seems to be a hard thing to come by considering budgets pulled off by fellow super hero shows Agents of Shield, The Gifted, and Legion. So why didn’t this show apparently get any significant money towards their special effects? I don’t know, but when it’s bad enough that you notice then you have a very big problem.
In the grand scheme of things I don’t think this show should have been made. It existed originally as a movie as a bargaining chip in order to get things like Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and Doctor Strange made. However once management changed in the movie department it became a TV show instead which got rushed through development for, what I wonder. What the hell was so important that it needed to be out now? To compete with Fox’s The Gifted? because if so, good job, The Gifted won without even trying.
The fact that there’s been a very long ongoing act to try and replace X-Men with the Inhumans within the comics by doubling their presence and giving them story lines of oppression like the X-Men (Kind of hard to sell that story when your heroes are xenophobes) just makes this all the worse because it’s clear that they’re not succeeding.
Sure there are some successes like Ms Marvel and Agents of Shields dives into Inhuman story lines but as far as the Original Inhumans go this was a big mistake. I don’t think there’s not room for them somewhere in the MCU, but they would have worked better as side characters on Agents of Shield or something instead of being the stars of their own show.
Oh well, what’s done is done and I fully expect this show to not get a second season. But if it does I hope they learn to improve a lot but I won’t watching it if it does come back. Because as it stand this was the worst thing they done in the MCU and that’s sad.