Crystal: Youre talking about betraying your brother. Youre talking about treason.
Maximus: What Im talking about is freedom, freedom for all Inhumans.
Inhumans is a 2017 television series based on the Marvel Comics characters of the same name, set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It debuted in September 2017,note was produced by ABC Studios in conjunction with IMAX, who screened the first two episodes in theaters ahead of its official debut on television. The show ran as an eight episode miniseries. IMAX picked up the tab on the costs for the first two episodes, while ABC funded the remaining six.
The series focuses on Black Bolt and the Inhuman royal family, rather than the "urban" Inhuman characters featured on its sister show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., starring Anson Mount as Blackagar "Black Bolt" Boltagon, king of the Inhumans, Serinda Swan as Medusa, queen of the Inhumans and Black Bolt's wife, Ken Leung as Karnak; Eme Ikwuakor as Gorgon, Black Bolt's cousin and leader of the Attilan military; Isabelle Cornish as Crystal, Medusa's sister; Mike Moh as Triton, another of Black Bolt's cousins; Sonya Balmores as Auran, head of the Royal Guards of Attilan; and Iwan Rheon as Maximus the Mad, the villainous brother of Black Bolt. Additionally, Ellen Woglom stars as Louise, a human scientist who meets the Royals.
The series was cancelled after its only season, following declining ratings and an abysmal critical reception. Marvel Studios have insisted that the project did not replace their own ideas for an Inhumans project, although it is believed that the miniseries will fall under Canon Discontinuity if Marvel revisits the IP.
Inhumans contains examples of:
- Actor Allusion: Iwan Rheon plays a scheming, villainous aristocrat whose last name starts with "Bolt", much like Ramsay Bolton on Game of Thrones.
- Adapted Out:
- In the comics, Black Bolt is a polygamist who had multiple wives, with Medusa being his Top Wife. Considering the difficulty the show had on its plate with the eugenics premise alone, this was happily modified to a monogamous marriage between King and Queen.
- The Inhumans were discovered by The Fantastic Four in the comics, with Medusa debuting as a (brainwashed) member of their Evil Counterpart the Frightful Four before her backstory was revealed, but due to 20th Century Fox owning the rights to the superhero group and related cast - prior to Disney buying Fox - they are not present in the MCU.
- Adaptation Distillation: In the comics, Atillan was initially located in the North Atlantic Ocean at the time of their discovery, until they eventually moved into several places such as the Andes, the Himalayas and eventually the moon. Here, the Inhumans were always based in the moon. In addition, the Alpha Primitives are not their Servant Race, since they were previously established as minions to Hive/Alveus in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Inhumans with lesser abilities (or none whatsoever) fill their role instead.
- Adaptational Superpower Change:
- Maximus' power was changed to make him less of a Card-Carrying Villain. In the comics, he had mind control powers, but here he explicitly has no powers and is therefore at the bottom of the Fantastic Caste System. In turn, this means that Karnak's abilities must necessarily also be an Inhuman power here; in the comics he never underwent Terrigenesis and was merely very well trained.
- The comic version of Auran has Unusual Ears and an odd form of super-hearingnote The show gives her a Healing Factor so she can be bashed up in battles - repeatedly.
- Adaptational Villainy:
- In the comics, Auran is one of the royal family's allies. Here, she's Maximus's enforcer, and since the show has not taken the time to establish her motivations (yet) as it did for Maximus, she ends up coming off as far more evil than he is.
- The heroes of the series all get a good dose of this, due to the Fantastic Caste System in place. You go through Terrigenesis as a child and don't get powers, or do but your powers aren't "good enough?" Enjoy being Made a Slave in the mines for life!
- Adaptational Wimp:
- Black Bolt's had a severe Nerfing compared to the comics version. The power of his voice, while still impressive and making him one of the strongest characters in the cast, is no more than, say, Arrow's Black Canary-related Make Me Wanna Shout characters at the maximum. That's impressive, but comic Black Bolt's voice is literally comparable to a nuke. His other powers are also never seen.note
- In the comics, good luck cutting Medusa's hair with a normal razor like in this series. It's strong enough to lift tons, and would require Vibranium, Adamantium, or some similar super-metal. Note that this would not completely negate her control over it!
- Aliens Speaking English: Despite living on the Moon for centuries, they conveniently speak American English. Averted with the sign language Black Bolt and Medusa employ, as they use a language they created themselves instead of the relatively-young American Sign Language.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: Louise's boss dismisses Louise's theory that there's something living on the moon that destroyed the rover outright as crazy, despite the hammer throwing Norse Gods, rich playboys in Power Armor, nigh-indestructable raging monsters etc. existing in their world and widely known about. Not to mention that the Earth has been invaded by aliens before.
- Ascended Fridge Horror: King Black Bolt's power is, of course, an incredibly destructive sonic scream released when he speaks. If this show isn't your introduction to the character, then when you first learned that, you probably figured it wasn't pretty when he first got it. You'd be absolutely right. One word completely obliterates his parents. We then pan around to the wall behind the place where they'd been standing: it's crushed like the Hulk had punched it, and painted with the dust his parents were reduced to, the grains blasted into it. Holy crap.
- Big Bad: Maximus.
- Brought Down to Badass: Even with her hair shaved off, Medusa is still a skilled enough fighter to fight Auran evenly.
- Canon Foreigner: Louise is not from the comics and is an original character for this show, as are the majority of the Inhuman supporting players.
- Continuity Nod:
- Attilan's walls are decorated with the same Kree hieroglyphs that originally led Coulson and his team to the underground Kree facility in Puerto Rico.
- The first episode has mention of a Terrigen contamination in Earth's water supply.
- When trying to find out how Black Bolt got his powers, Sammy asks him if he woke up one morning to find him self covered in a rock-like crust. This is a reference to the Terrigen cocoons seen in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s version of Terrigenesis.
- Contrived Coincidence: The Hawaiian surfer dudes Gorgon befriends just happen to be militant separatists armed with automatic weaponry, guerrilla warfare tactics, and respect for royalty, to help him take on the Royal Guard.
- Cruel Mercy: Maximus's ultimate fate. Black Bolt doesn't kill him, but instead seals him within a bunker with enough food to last the rest of his life... which will be a long time trapped entirely alone, on the now-abandoned moon.
- Cursed With Awesome: Black Bolt's power is his voice, which can level a city with a whisper, making him an incredible force. Yet it also means he can't make a single sound for fear of hurting those around him, which is proven in a flashback showing how with just one word he vaporized his own parents.
- Decoy Protagonist: The series begins with a newly turned Earth-born Inhuman being hunted down and contacted by Triton, who promises to take her to Attilan. The setup and the fact that she is played by recognizable actress leads the audience to believe she will be the Audience Surrogate character, but she is unceremoniously killed moments later.
- The Dragon: Auran, to Maximus.
- Drama-Preserving Handicap: Karnak suffers a head injury after Lockjaw teleported him to Earth. This keeps his power to predict outcomes from working properly. Even once he starts to get them back they still don't work to their full extent. This is a twofer, it prevents Karnak from being able to reunite the Inhuman Royals and solve most of the plot of the series within the first couple episodes and gives him the opportunity to have some character development without his power getting in the way as it did when he was on Attilan.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Though not premiering until 2017, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season two established the existence of Inhumans and set up their mythology, but the only characters who've shown up to date (like Daisy Johnson) are the ones born on Earth after being abandoned by the Kree centuries ago.
- Fantastic Caste System: Attilan's society is ruled by one as described by the director:Roel Reiné: When you have a good superpower you are at the top of the caste and if you have a bad superpower you are in the lower caste. This makes this world not really good.
- Fantastic Racism: The Inhumans of Attilan consider baseline humans to be inferior beings.
- Feuding Families: In the backstory, the ruling Boltagon family clashed with the Amaquelins, executing Medusa and Crystal's parents for their desire to challenge the orthodoxy and give rights to the lower-caste denizens of Attilan. It's implied that both Medusa and Crystal were kept as royal hostages during which time Black Bolt and Maximus befriended the sisters, and became suitors to Medusa.
- Fish out of Water: Almost every Royal Family member after they find themselves on Earth. Gorgon is the only one whose interactions with locals can be called normal.
- Four Lines, All Waiting: Once Crystal makes it to Earth, there are six completely separate stories running concurrently. The pace for all of them is thus pretty slow.
- Gilligan Cut: When Karnak chews out Gorgon for letting the rover record footage of his hoof crushing it, fearing what Earthlings would happen if they saw it, the latter has this to say:Gorgon: Nobody is gonna know that is a hoof.
(immediately cuts back to Earth)
Louise: It looks like a hoof.
- He Who Must Not Be Heard: Since Black Bolt has a destructive voice, he can't speak at any time. A mere grunt of pain when a cop tazes him is enough to send one of their cars flying. He communicates with sign language because of this.
- Interspecies Romance: Happens between Karnak and Jem (a regular human) in "Make Way for... Medusa", and later for Crystal and Dave (another human) in "The Gentleman's Name is Gorgon".
- Karmic Death: In order to take all the profits from their illegal crop for himself, Reno kills his workmate and plans to do the same to the remaining surviving team member. When the buyers for the crop ask where his friend is, he explained he killed him and they ask to see the body. Reno gets shot to death by the buyers' leader: I don't trust people who kill their friends.
- Kleptomaniac Hero: Because they're both royalty and out of their element, Black Bolt and Medusa both take what isn't theirs without a second thought while on Earth. Black Bolt ends up arrested for taking a suit from a store.
- Lunarians: The Inhuman royal family lives on the moon, along with a population of Inhuman subjects.
- Made of Iron: Black Bolt seems to be, seeing as a truncheon to the back barely does more than surprise him, a taser elicits little more than a grunt, and he's seemingly no worse for wear after three cops beat him into submission.
- Marquee Alter Ego: Black Bolt does not wear his cowl from the comics, and only wears a similar looking headband for ceremonial purposes while overseeing a Terrigenesis ceremony in the first episode.
- Military Coup: Maximus seizes power thanks to the backing of the Royal Guard.
- Movie Superheroes Wear Black: The MCU has usually averted this but this series plays it straight. The very colourful costumes worn by the Inhumans are replaced by black suits for the most part.
- Mythology Gag:
- While trying to find the origin of Black Bolt's powers, Sammy asks if he got bitten by a radioactive bug.
- All of the episode titles allude to titles from comics featuring the Inhumans.
- New Era Speech: Maximus gives one at the end of the second episode, about how he's going to build a better future for all the people of Attilan. The crowds are left cheering for him.
- Oh, Crap!: Black Bolt merely opening his mouth can elicit this reaction from everyone in the room. Understandable, since teen Black Bolt accidentally disintegrated his parents and crushed the wall behind them with one word as he discovers his uncontrollable sonic powers, which Maximus in the present is taunting adult Black Bolt about. And, in the present, where are they? In the very room young Black Bolt was kept in shortly after destroying his parents. In other words, he's been imprisoned in the only logical place: a protected room where you learn to control dangerous powers without endangering the outside. Maximus has Black Bolt captive and has marked the rest of his family for death, taunting him about his wife Medusa "writhing on the floor," and dares him to kill him like he did their parents... while inside the one place where Black Bolt can do so without worrying about collateral damage. You bet when Maximus pushes him far enough and he opens his mouth to do what we'd just seen in the flashback, Maximus and his Mooks are not looking so confident!
- One Degree of Separation: The plot is jump-started by a privately-funded Moon rover smacking into Attilan's invisible walls. Once Gorgon stomps on it and drags it inside, it's revealed to be the latest of over a dozen. Turns out that Callisto Aerospace — the company sending the rovers — has connections with Maximus, who's trying to use it as evidence that humanity is about to discover Attilan.
- Politically Incorrect Hero: The Inhuman Royal Family are the main protagonists of the show, but due to Deliberate Values Dissonance they are complicit with an oppressive Fantastic Caste System that rules their city and some of their members show casual disdain towards Maximus for not developing his own superpowers (and that is even before his betrayal). Even Crystal, who is presented as a naive and nice girl looks down on him.
- Prophecy Twist: As expected, Maximus has jumped off the slippery slope by the end and become the full-on Big Bad. When he asks the boy he'd saved from the mines at the beginning to use his prophetic abilities to look at his future, he says he sees Maximus becoming the undisputed king of Attilan. At the time, he's blackmailing the royal family by causing a disruption to the city's dome that will eventually destroy the city. In the end, even he can't stop it. His final fate is to be left in the one safe place in Attilan, all alone after it has been evacuated, the city above him finally collapsing, and the dome gone so that if he could escape he would promptly die, unprotected and with no air on the moon. Indeed, no one is around to challenge him for 'rule' of a pile of rubble, or the one room beneath it that he'll be spending the rest of his life in.
- Race Lift: Karnak and Gorgon, who are white in the comics, are played by Ken Leung (Chinese-American) and Eme Ikwuakor (Nigerian-American). Triton is also played by Asian-American martial artist Mike Moh (Triton and Karnak are brothers), but it's less noticeable since despite being Black Bolt's cousin, Triton's skin is green in the comics.
- Re-Cut: The first two episodes will feature new scenes when they are broadcast on television.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Black Bolt's cousins are described as such; fight-happy Gorgon as the red and Triton, calm under pressure, being the blue.
- Repeating So the Audience Can Hear: Medusa often translates Black Bolt's sign language even when she's alone with him and has no reason to repeat back what he just said. Maximus also does so.
- Sequel Hook: The final scene of the season finale gives us flashbacks with some offhand mentions of preparations for an upcoming threat that Black Bolt's parents feared. In the present, it turns out that Black Bolt knows what it is, but he doesn't tell Maximus what he knows. Relatedly or not, one of the final scenes is that as Attilan is collapsing, one wall of ancient Inhuman writing lights up with electric blue lighting. Note that at the time, Maximus is still in Attilan, likely setting up for him working with/against whoever is coming. Season 4 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. makes the return of the Kree a likely candidate.
- Shame If Something Happened: When trying to coerce Crystal into joining him, Maximus says how sad he'd be to see anything happen to Lockjaw.
- Self-Made Orphan: Black Bolt vaporized his parents by sheer accident with a single word.
- The Social Darwinist: This fuels Attilan's Fantastic Caste System. The Inhumans believe that an individual's mutations are the purest expression of their true self, hence why those with good superpowers are at the top while those with lesser powers are slaves. Maximus speaks against it during the Terrigenesis ceremony, saying that for all they know Terrigenesis is completely random, but the rest of the Royal Family dismisses it as sour grapes.
- Standard Female Grab Area: Despite having the power to manipulate the elements, Crystal is easily restrained by The Dragon in the first episode when she is grabbed by her wrists.
- Straw Nihilist: Karnak's ability to see all possible outcomes seems to have left him rather pessimistic about everything.Gorgon: This is why nobody asks you to do their birthday toast.
- Super Wrist-Gadget: The Attilans possess a fancy wrist com-link that allows them to talk over them as if they were phones. It has two modes consisting of a wrist mode to contact others and also a tablet mode, the device is flattened and opened similar to a flip phone.
- Too Dumb to Live: Black Bolt's parents refuse to place their son in isolation just for the safety of Attilan, and insist he'll learn to control his power. Not long after, Black Bolt accidentally kills them during an argument.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The surfers that rescue Gorgon from drowning don't care that he has hooves, merely commenting that he shouldn't have tried to swim with them. One mentions that he's read about Inhumans, and overall they treat Gorgon like they would a guy with six fingers or heterochromia: unusual but not worth making a big deal over.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Maximus is very much a man of the people, mostly due to being looked down on for not having powers, just like them.
- Visionary Villain: Maximus intends to end the caste system, and conquer Earth as part of an expansionist policy.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Medusa's hair ability can be neutralized by an electric razor. This is a marked contrast from the comics, where her hair can't be cut unless she willingly allows it or something as sharp as a vibranium blade cuts it.
- Wham Shot: The flashback showing that Black Bolt killed his own parents when he simply asked "why?" with his voice, vaporizing them with its power.