TV Series Review: Marvel’s Inhumans

Mitch Nissen Mitch Nissen
Expert Contributor
November 22nd, 2017

Grew up reading comic books in the 90’s. Marvel fan at heart. Hulk, the Midnight Sons, and Marvel’s cosmic universe are my favorites.

TV Series Review: Marvel’s Inhumans
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Review of: ABC's Inhumans
Price:
Disappointing

Reviewed by:
Rating:
2
On November 22, 2017
Last modified:November 22, 2017

Summary:

ABC's Inhumans is a perfect example of what not to do. The series feels rushed, ill-conceived, and not possessing nearly enough resources to do the characters or subject matter justice. The actors do their best with the material, delivering quality performances, while the writing and special effects seemed to undercut them much of the way.

Review of: ABC's Inhumans
Price:
Disappointing

Reviewed by:
Rating:

2
On November 22, 2017
Last modified:November 22, 2017

Summary:

ABC's Inhumans is a perfect example of what not to do. The series feels rushed, ill-conceived, and not possessing nearly enough resources to do the characters or subject matter justice. The actors do their best with the material, delivering quality performances, while the writing and special effects seemed to undercut them much of the way.

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The ABC original series, Inhumans, was announced earlier this year and concluded in November. Based on the Marvel Comics characters, ComiConverse contributor Mitch Nissen takes a look at the completed television series.

The Marvel Comics characters the Inhumans first appeared in 1965 in the pages of Fantastic Four. An original creation of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the Inhumans were and remain some of the wildest and truly imaginative creations in all of Marvel. The Inhumans have come a long way since their debut fifty-two years ago. Only within the last few years though have these far out characters enjoyed the widest exposure in their history.

In the wake of the 2012 Marvel Comics event, Infinity, a new book titled Inhuman was released. Since then Marvel has continued to push these characters, expanding them into a line of books, and having them play central roles in Marvel events such as Civil War II and Inhumans Vs X-Men. The push of the Inhumans didn't stop at comic shops either. During the early stages of Phase Two for the Marvel Cinematic Universe rumors online were that the Inhumans would be receiving a big budget feature film. Then in 2014 Kevin Feige announced the Inhumans film as one of the final pieces in the plans for Phase Three. Even actor Vin Diesel seemed to be lobbying for the role of Black Bolt for a time.

The ABC television series Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. began laying the groundwork for the Inhumans. The concepts surrounding the Inhumans such as Terragenesis and their Kree origins were fleshed out and made known to the widest possible audience thus far. The stage seemed set for the Inhuman royal family to make their big screen debut. But this would not come to be. Due to a number of reasons and events the Inhumans MCU film was pushed back yet again and ultimately dropped from the schedule, only to be picked up by ABC as an eight episode network television series.

The announcement of the Inhumans television series came early in 2017 and by September the world was privy to the first episode. And in November of 2017 the series had already come to a close. Now with the series wrapped, how did it ultimately shape up? I offer one view of the series.

Credit: ABC

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Negativity at the onset

The initial announcement of the Inhumans going from a big budget star studded cast feature film to a network television mini series was met with obvious disappointment from fans. And when the first images of the costumes for the royal family emerged online the disillusionment with the series began, well before the first episode even aired. When the actors cast in the central roles were announced there was hope. But the sight of the first trailers only undercut the series further, displaying the still disappointing costumes and unfinished network television level CGI special effects.

The actual series itself seemed to do little to change audiences' opinions.

Ultimately the problems with the series lie with the lack of budget and an overall rushed presentation.

It was clear from the trailers that ABC television didn't have (or were not allocating) a budget big enough to fully realize the scope of story. The costumes, sets, and CGI effects all suffered significantly as a result. The costumes are bland and uninspired, looking similar to the early 2000's X-Men films. And the Inhuman city of Attilan is equally uninspired, evoking generic neo-modernist styles. But perhaps the greatest tragedy of this limited budget is the gross disservice to the characters.

The harm caused by the lack of CGI effects runs deeper than merely affecting the action and spectacle. The lack of CGI effects hurts who these characters are. Medusa's hair was featured in one episode before being shaved. Black Bolt coughs and whispers two words. Crystal displays limited pyrokinesis, winds, and lightning. Karnak's powers receive fair treatment, but his powers are absent for most of the series due to a head injury. Gorgon receives perhaps the best treatment of his powers among the royal family yet Gorgon's hooves are covered by boots for most episodes. And Triton is missing for five of the eight episodes altogether.

The series also suffered from a poorly developed narrative with pacing issues. The series strives to give nearly each member of the royal family an arc. What this does is create a fractured narrative with numerous plot threads almost from the very beginning. Had this series been a full twenty-two episode season this narrative style may have come to better fruition. But within the eight episode time frame, the longhand approach to the story fails to pick up momentum or give any of its multiple plots satisfying conclusions. As a result the show walks when it should be running and many of the various plots feel superfluous.

While it is an important aspect of storytelling that characters have arcs and grow, not every character needs an arc initially. I would argue that function is equally important to a character. Triton is the perfect example of a character in this series with no arc but employed with expert function within the show. Limiting the focus to Black Bolt, Medusa, and Maximus, taking the time to develop them as complex and compelling characters would be fitting for a truncated season. The remaining royal family being relegated to supporting roles without arcs of their own, yet fulfilling vital functions to the plot, and displaying their talents and abilities would showcase the characters just as well if not more so. As it is we just begin to know who these characters are and what they can do before they're either depowered or forced to question who they are themselves.

After finishing the series it is apparent that not enough time and money were invested in properly developing the series. I'm sure there are numerous reasons for why the series ended up the way it did. But even so, there are a few elements that shouldn't share the blame.

Credit: ABC

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A worthy cast.

The greatest success of this show lies with the cast. While their characters may have had their powers taken and their hands tied, the actors played their parts with fervor and conviction. Anson Mount and Serinda Swan give everything they can to the roles of Black Bolt and Medusa, but sadly the series barely gives either actor anything to work with. Black Bolt is constantly thrust into situations where he cannot use his powers and Medusa loses her powers in the first episode. When they are allowed to do something the results are great, the major highlight being the relationship dynamic between the two.

Ken Leung and Eme Okwuakor are wonderful as Karnak and Gorgon. Both actors bring genuine humanity to the roles as well as channeling the unique personalities of the characters. When the two characters are reunited during the second half of the series they have some of the best exchanges and character interplay of all the cast. And both characters receive some quality action sequences as well. While I feel neither needed their own subplots in the show, the two actors showcased the characters very well.

Iwan Rheon and Isabelle Cornish did well with what little they were allowed to do as Maximus and Crystal. The two were barely given any character development beyond the standard archetypes of the usurping villain and gilded caged princess. Both actors could do far more for these characters then the series gave them. Taking in the full view of the series, more time needed to be devoted to Crystal and Maximus, developing their characters further, while other characters needlessly soaked up too much screen time.

Mike Moh as Triton was amazing and his action sequences were among the major highlights of the series. If only he had been featured more as he is the least seen member of the royal family in the series.

And finally the CGI effects for Lockjaw were very well done. It is apparent that the CGI focus was on Lockjaw and the powers of the other characters were sacrificed in service of this.

Lastly there were several themes of unity and equality running throughout the series. No one, with super powers or not, is better than anyone else. One of the fundamental flaws of the Inhuman society in the comics is the caste system and the series takes the first opportunity to address this. The theme of family runs deep through the series as well. In regards to Maximus the message is not to take other people's feelings for granted nor dismiss other's feelings as less than your own and not to needlessly tear others down. The world needs more messages such as these, especially today.

One question remains.

With the initial season, and possibly the entire series, finished and garnering largely negative reviews across the board, it leaves one to wonder just how much damage was done? How long will it be before the Inhumans, a largely unknown and wonderful cast of comic book characters, receives a second chance at stardom? Or will they return to the shadows of obscurity in the back issue bins forever?

Did you watch Inhumans? What did you think?

Let us know in the comments below!

Mitch Nissen is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @NinjaMitche

ABC's Inhumans

  • 2

Disappointing

ABC's Inhumans is a perfect example of what not to do. The series feels rushed, ill-conceived, and not possessing nearly enough resources to do the characters or subject matter justice. The actors do their best with the material, delivering quality performances, while the writing and special effects seemed to undercut them much of the way.

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