Did ‘Agents of SHIELD’ Sink Marvel’s ‘Inhumans’ Movie?

Agents of SHIELD - Secret Warriors

Inhumans have made their mark on Agents of SHIELD | Source: ABC

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is nothing if not thorough. Already, it’s covered virtually every main hero from the vast library of comic source material at the studio’s disposal. Marvel even had films planned out through 2019 as early as a couple years ago. Once a film gets on the MCU calendar, the wheels begin to turn. Disney begins to assemble the cast, the preceding Marvel movies usually contain subtle story elements that set the stage, and rumors from the set fly in daily. None of this happened for the planned Inhumans film though, and we think we may know the culprit.

Before we identify the guilty party, let’s first track the long saga that eventually led to Inhumans getting removed from the MCU calendar entirely. Originally, Marvel head Kevin Feige had the film slated for a November 2, 2018 release date. It wasn’t long before 2018 became untenable, pushing it to July 2019 (as of now, Marvel is releasing Black Panther, Ant Man & the Wasp, and Avengers: Infinity War Part I in 2018 instead). Then, the announcement for a new Indiana Jones movie shoved Inhumans out of 2019, leaving its fate up in the air.

The prevailing theory now is that Marvel is saving Inhumans for Phase 4, which would push its release sometime past 2020. Continuing to delay the film though could spell its doom before it’s all said and done. Which brings us to the culprit that puts the whole project on a clock: Agents of SHIELD. This past season, Marvel’s ABC side-series introduced the Inhumans in full, as an alien/human hybrid experimented on by the Kree (think the X-Men if mutants were also sort of aliens). Whether this was originally conceived of as a way of easing audiences into the original 2019 movie release isn’t clear, but it presents a host of problems nonetheless.

Agents of Shield | Source: ABC

Agents of SHIELD | Source: ABC

Agents of SHIELD has often served as a supplementary, but all too separate, part of the MCU. Rarely do you see characters from the movies appear in more than a “passing mention” capacity, and that’s by design. Marvel doesn’t want to use up its more profitable stories on a TV show, when it could save them for its tentpole movies instead. And that’s exactly what made the introduction of the Inhumans on the series a perplexing choice. The origin of the super-powered race is the central plot of Season 3, while our main villain is the very first of their species, banished to a faraway planet eons ago. It cuts deeply into any potential movie, and more and more, it’s beginning to feel like Marvel’s telling us one thing: There won’t be an Inhumans movie.

The first question that comes up in the wake of this is whether or not we even need Inhumans. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is enormous. It’s already digging into its secondary tier of heroes with Black Panther, Doctor Strange and Ant-Man & the Wasp, and by the time the MCU hits the decade mark in 2018, they’re going to need more fresh ideas to keep audiences interested. Unfortunately, an Inhumans film won’t be a fresh idea by the time Marvel gets around to making it in 2020whatever. If by some miracle Agents of SHIELD is still running by say, 2023, it’ll be in its 10th season, having long since exhausted the Inhumans story in the process.

Maybe using the Inhumans on Agents was Marvel’s way of hedging its bets and finding them a better, more low-profile home. Or perhaps there’s some grand vision that’s using the TV series as an elaborate setup for a movie almost a decade away from being released. It’s hard not to see the former as the more likely of the two options, but hey, who knows. By the time Marvel’s Phase 4 comes around, maybe enough time will have passed for us to forget all about Agents of SHIELD. It’s probably just wise not to hold our collective breaths waiting in the meantime.

Follow Nick on Twitter @NickNorthwest

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