The Inhumans: 5 Things to Know About Marvel’s Forgotten Characters

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) doesn’t seem to be at a loss for new ideas. It certainly helps that the comic book publisher has decades of material and countless beloved characters to tap into for its big-screen productions (even if some of its most iconic characters remain off-limits). The MCU’s  Doctor Strange, even adds a dash of mysticism into the tapestry of interwoven stories. However, Marvel seems just as determined to develop other branches of the MCU in addition to the film side of things.

More specifically, the past few years have seen Marvel make a concerted effort to impact television as much as film. Over at Netflix, the company recently released another superhero team-up with The Defenders, and the ABC series, Agents of SHIELD recently made the bold decision to introduce Ghost Rider into the shared MCU continuity in Season 4. Now, the very same network will place the spotlight on another element of the Marvel universe with ABC’s eight-episode series, The Inhumans. 

Here’s what we know about the forgotten characters. 

1. The characters debuted in the Fantastic Four comics in 1965

Fantastic Four in Marvel Comics
Fantastic Four | Marvel Comics

While the name may not ring any bells for non-comic book fans, the Inhumans have actually been a mainstay in Marvel Comics since the mid-1960s when they shared the spotlight alongside Marvel’s First Family. The team was initially represented by Medusa and Gorgon a few issues earlier, but their proper introduction in Fantastic Four solidified the superhumans as integral players. Before long, the Inhuman Royal Family would earn their own title, leading to the arrival of fan favorites like Black Bolt. Their mythology has continued to evolve ever since.

2. They receive their powers via a process called “Terrigenesis”

Inhumans | Marvel Comics
Inhumans | Marvel Comics

Whereas many Marvel heroes owe their abilities to a scientific experiment, their cosmic origins, or a genetic mutation (more on that later), the Inhumans actually gained their powers through exposure to Terrigen Mist. However, the process — the aforementioned Terrigenesis — also has a tendency to cause physical deformities and genetic damage. Originally, the Inhumans were experimented on by the Kree (the same alien species as Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Ronan the Accuser), though they ultimately escaped and formed their own technologically advanced society.

3. They joined the MCU during Agents of SHIELD‘s Season 2

Chloe Bennet in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. | ABC
Chloe Bennet in Agents of SHIELD | ABC

The announcement that an Inhumans TV series was on the way shouldn’t come as a surprise to fans of Agents of SHIELD, since that series has heavily featured the Inhumans since Season 2. In that batch of episodes it was revealed that hacker Skye (Chloe Bennet) was the MCU’s version of Daisy Johnson aka Quake, one of the most popular Inhumans in recent comics. In discovering her origin, Quake (and viewers) learned more about the Inhuman society, which has remained a major thread throughout the series ever since.

4. The characters are the MCU’s alternative to the X-Men

Jennifer Lawrence and Evan Peters in X-Men Apocalypse
Jennifer Lawrence and Evan Peters in X-Men: Apocalypse | Fox

Because Marvel Studios doesn’t have the film rights to the X-Men (those have long remained over at Fox), the MCU has essentially adopted the super-powered Inhumans as its surrogate for characters with mutant powers. In fact, Marvel Studios productions cannot even utter the word “mutant,” leading the company to change Quicksilver from a mutant into an Inhuman in the comics to better reflect his MCU appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron. It remains to be seen if the X-Men will ever join the MCU, but until then, expect Marvel to treat the Inhumans in a similar fashion going forward, whether they appear on the big-screen or not.

5. They could be the link between the films and TV series

Captain America: Civil War
Captain America: Civil War | Marvel Studios

While the fate of the previously announced Inhumans film remains up in the air, the character’s could be the link that finally ties together the film and television worlds of the MCU. Because the most high-profile Inhuman in the MCU to date (Quake, for those keeping score) is also connected to S.H.I.E.L.D. and, by extension, the films’ Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), it wouldn’t take much for the Inhumans to seamlessly thread together the various branches of the MCU. Still, the film and television divisions of the company reportedly have a rough working relationship, so it may be awhile before this comes to pass.

Follow Robert Yaniz Jr. on Twitter @CrookedTable

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