While not confirmed with an official release date, it looks like one of Marvel Studios’ worst kept secrets — a film based on Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Inhumans — is moving foward. Collider broke the story that Joe Robert Cole’s script for The Inhumans is complete and that Marvel is satisfied with it enough to begin considerations over who should make the actual film. Like Guardians of the Galaxy before it, The Inhumans is a mostly untested and unknown property, with a focus on big science fiction and not your typical crimefighter-in-tights superheroes.
Now that the Kree have been introduced to the cinematic Marvel U by Guardians of the Galaxy (Ronan is a Kree separatist), the story of the Inhumans is easier to tell. Remember the Collector’s flashback in Guardians of the giant cosmic being, tromping through a field unleashing massive power? That’s a Celestial. And as it turns out, thousands upon thousands of years ago, the Celestials invested their life-giving powers into mankind, which caught the attention of the Kree. The Kree, in turn, decided to experiment on humans to see if they could upgrade us even further than what the Celestials had started. At some point, the Kree feared these advancements would create beings too powerful and that it might lead to the downfall of the Kree Empire, so the experiments — the Inhumans — were left behind in a secluded society called Attilan.
The key to unlocking the Inhumans’ dormant superpowered abilities lies in a mutagenic substance called the Terrigan Mist. Inhumans expose themselves to the mist to reach their full potential and advance to their station in Inhuman society. The characters we most often see representing “The Inhumans” in comics and media are its ruling class, first introduced in 1965’s Fantastic Four #65. They’re mostly heroic, but are very insular and will often choose the best interests of Inhumans over the best interests of the world. Black Bolt, Medusa, Crystal, Lockjaw, Triton, Gorgon and Karnak are the core team who would likely be the stars of an Inhumans film.
Black Bolt is the king of the Inhumans and is cursed with a voice so powerful that even the utterance of a whisper causes mass destruction.
Medusa is the queen of the Inhumans and has the ability to use her hair as a prehensile, superstrong weapon.
One of the highest profile Inhumans in the Marvel universe, she’s a former Avenger and has filled in on occasion as a member of the Fantastic Four. Crystal is the daughter of former Inhuman royalty and has the ability to psychically manipulate fire, water, air and earth (with some limitations). In the comics, she’s been romantically linked to Quicksilver in the past, and with that character popping up in Avengers: Age of Ultron, we’d expect that relationship to carry over in some way in the films.
Lockjaw may look like an oversized bulldog, but he has the ability to teleport himself and others anywhere, even to other dimensions. He is a trusted guard of the Inhuman royal family. If the movie gets him right, he’d basically steal the show in the same way Groot does in Guardians.
This fishlike Inhuman is the cousin of Black Bolt and has superhuman speed and strength when immersed in water.
Gorgon’s legs look like animal hooves and he can create seismic shock waves by stomping. He is also Black Bolt’s cousin.
Black Bolt’s cousin (and Triton’s brother) has the unusual ability of knowing any object’s weakest point, allowing him to direct attacks directly at that point.
Every comic book hero needs a comic book villain and in this case Marvel has a chance to create another Loki-like sensation if it casts the right man. Maximus the Mad is Black Bolt’s brother and is consistently one of the most conniving, scheming players in the Marvel universe. He sold out the Inhumans to the Kree multiple times and has attempted a coup of Attilan more times than comic fans can count. Though associated with the Inhumans, he’s been a big problem for the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers and the X-Men as well. His powers are psychic manipulation, which is a great power to have if you’re constantly trying to get your own way.
If you’d like to read the Inhumans, we recommend four collections. Inhumans: The Origins of the Inhumans reprints all of the original mythology as it appeared in Fantastic Four and Thor. The characters got their own series in 1972 and it’s all collected in Marvel Masterworks: The Inhumans Vol. 2. For more recent takes on the characters, check out the minor classic reinvention of the characters in the 12-issue 1998 series from writer Paul Jenkins and artist Jae Lee (simply titled The Inhumans) as well as Fantastic Four/Inhumans, which features their 2000 miniseries (featuring stunning art by Jose Ladronn) and more recent interactions with the FF.
Marvel has two monthly comics out right now that explore humans who didn’t know that they had latent Inhuman genes until a Terrigan Mist bomb was detonated in the miniseries Infinity. Inhuman is the story of a young man named Dante who can become a human fireball and is immediately taken under the wing of the Inhuman royal family. Ms. Marvel is about Muslim teen Kamala Khan who finds that she can shape-shift and, in the grand tradition of Peter Parker, has to juggle her new secret powers with all the troubles of being a teenager.
We think both Dante or Khan would provide an interesting entry point into the larger world of the Inhumans, if and when they come to the big screen, but neither character has been confirmed. Newer comic fans speculate that the Inhumans are Marvel’s way to replace the X-Men’s mutant origins of superheroes who are just born that way, since Marvel doesn’t control the X-Men film rights. While “just born that way” provides a great, quick explanation for superheroes (some have guessed that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch will be Inhumans in Age of Ultron), the world of the Inhumans is so bizarre and rich that it’s certainly not an easier answer, just a different one.
We’ll be following development on The Inhumans closely as it continues.
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