No Marvel franchise has suffered more at the hands of the MCU than the Inhumans. What went wrong?
From the disappearance of the royal family in the comic books three years ago, to Black Bolt’s violent destruction at the hands of Scarlet Witch, to now losing one of their own in Kamala Khan, the 2010-2020’s have not been kind to the Inhumans.
The Inhumans were created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, first appearing as a group in 1965’s Fantastic Four #45. The Inhumans are a species of humanoids that were experimented on by the Kree Empire generations ago. They were created to be engines of war, that they might service Hala’s ongoing war with the Skrull, but they were abandoned by their creators. The largest Inhuman faction native to earth built a powerful and advanced city, known as Attilan, where they lived in solitude.
WHO ARE THE INHUMANS AND WHY HAS MARVEL SHELVED THEM?
The people of Attilan lived under the rule of Monarchy, with Black Bolt as king and his wife Medusa as Queen. Medusa has incredibly long and powerful hair which she can control with her mind. Black Bolt is able to fly, but he is unable to speak normally. His soundwaves carry such power that they can power starships and level entire planets, so he speaks through an unique Inhuman sign language. Often, Medusa operates as a mouthpiece for Blackagar Boltagon.
Other members of the Inhuman royal family include the headstrong Satyr, Gorgon, Medusa’s younger, softer sister Crystal, who controls the elements, and several others. Inhumans are functionally just homo-sapiens until they encounter an element known as Terrigen, which initiates a unique process called Terrigenesis. The Inhuman is enveloped in a cocoon, eventually emerging reborn, with new Inhuman powers. The abilities granted by Terrigenesis vary greatly, with some having terrible negative side effects.
Attilan is similar to other fictional Marvel nations such as Atlantis, Wakanda, and Latveria, in the sense that the people who reside there are powerful and typically prefer solitude, due to a very reasonable fear of the outside world and the forces of man. In fact, for a long period of time, Attilan was on the Moon, providing greater distance and protection from terrestrial threats.
THE FALSE SPOTLIGHT THRUST UPON THE INHUMANS WOULD END IN DARKNESS
Due to the surface level similarities to Mutants and the X-Men, many Marvel fans have written the Inhumans off as cheap knockoffs, or at least, interchangeable with Mutantkind. This sentiment ignores key elements of Inhuman lore, such as their very tangible and central creation story, relationship to the cosmic stories of the Kree-Skrull War, or their medieval methods of government, just to name a few. But the false assumptions of a group of fans is one thing, a relatively unproblematic issue. But when Marvel creators start thinking that Inhumans equal X-Men, even loosely, that’s where consequences start to manifest.
To tell this story right, I have to take you back to the 1990’s. The comic book industry was Marvel’s biggest income outside of perhaps toys, and the industry had just crashed into a brick wall, threatening Marvel with bankruptcy. The only way that they could stay afloat was to sell off the movie rights to high-profile IP like Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four.
Fast forward to 2008, and Marvel’s started making their own movies. But alas, because of their nineties fast-cash plan, they couldn’t use a number of their characters. And believe it or not, Marvel was a bit upset over their circumstances. So upset, in fact, that they started to remove Mutant and Fantastic Four characters from the comic book landscape. But as the X-Men were reprioritized, a void was formed, and with it, opportunity.
Around this same time (circa 2014), it was officially announced that Marvel was moving forward with an Inhumans movie. It was originally slated to be the final film of Phase 3, but it was moved off the schedule when Phase 3 was reworked for Spidey’s introduction to the franchise. Instead, the decision was made to release Inhumans as an 8-episode TV series, with the first two episodes airing in IMax theaters for a limited time. Additionally, Inhumans were entering the MCU through Marvel’s Agents Of Shield.
In the aftermath of the MCU Disney+ series, Loki, the Sacred timeline was obliterated, giving way to vast new multiverse of possibility. While that opens the door to amazing crossovers like seeing Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man in No Way Home or Patrick Stewart as Professor X in Multiverse Of Madness, it also changes things like the way we should perceive canon and continuity in the MCU.