It’s no secret that I am a huge Marvel fanboy. I have read their comics since I was a kid. And not just the popular titles, I got hooked on the obscure and less known ones too. One of those is Inhumans, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby way back in the 60’s. They were not a team, but a family – a Royal Family, and that idea was really interesting. Most of the members have shown up on various superhero teams throughout the years, but it was always their interesting family dynamic that appealed to me.
So imagine my excitement when Inhumans was announced as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe! They were great characters and had compelling storylines to mine for their debut. And given Marvel’s track record of a golden touch, I was even more hyped.
And then I saw the first two episodes in IMAX, a deal that Marvel had to agree to since they moved the title from a feature film to a TV series. It was such a disappointment. Every area of the series suffered – scripting, casting, special effects – and would never recover. It is the first true disappointment in the Marvel Studios era. When you have such riveting successes like Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and Agents of SHIELD, this should have been a no-brainer. But Inhumans is dead on arrival. The only actor that showed up consistently is Iwan Rheon, who plays Maximus, brother of the Inhuman King. And his part was the most interesting and complex, not to mention the entire motivating plot factor, it’s understandable that he got the lion’s share of development and dialogue.
Anson Mount, who plays Black Bolt, the Inhuman leader whose voice could shatter mountains, did a serviceable job. Serinda Swan, who plays his wife Medusa did the best she could with the conflicting scripting and direction. She is also, perhaps, the most hampered by budget cuts, as her character’s powers are her long, prehensile hair is completely shaved off, saving future CGI efforts. Ken Leung, who plays Karnak, an Inhuman who sees the flaw in anything, is the most comics accurate character on screen.
The other Royal Family members are pretty awful and it’s a perfect storm of bad casting, bad dialogue, and poor direction. Eme Ikwuakor, who plays Gorgon, the Inhuman who has hooves for feet – although with the budget he just wears big combat boots – seems to think that in order to act tough you just tuck your chin down and look up. Mike Moh plays the Inhuman Triton, who is an aquatic powered being. His character barely shows up, but he’s a mostly breath of fresh air when he does. The most egregious of the cast is Isabelle Cornish, who should give up acting immediately. She (barely) plays fan-favorite Inhuman Crystal who has control of all the elements. Easily one of the most powerful characters, here she is cringe-worthy in every appearance.
Every aspect of the production felt hampered by budget and it’s unfortunate. They clearly couldn’t do proper CGI, or hire better writers or set designers or almost any other area that matters. I know production on television is fast, but I’m wondering if they got more than one take on any given scene. They constantly go from understanding earth and technology to having no idea what anything does. And the tone is all over the place as well. The triumphant swelling of the theme music relates
in no way to the actual show, and the soundtrack that is in the show feels like an afterthought. Also you have wildly conflicting motivations that change from episode to episode based on the flimsy plot. Sometimes in the very same scene. Even more frustrating is the writer induced amnesia, when a character from a previous episode does something, but in the next acts as if that never happened.
It feels like Marvel thought they could pull a fast one over on the audiences, but we could smell the clunker from a mile away. Maybe someday we will get a better live action version of the Inhumans, but this deserves to be tucked away along with Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four. Do yourself a favor and only watch this if you are a glutton for punishment.