Since the beginning, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has never shied away from taking risks. Even if Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk are fairly straightforward stories, Marvel Studios managed to legitimize a demigod from another world (Thor), the most extreme patriot in history (Captain America: The First Avenger), and the concept of an interconnected shared universe (The Avengers) all in Phase One alone.
Since then, the MCU has gone cosmic (Guardians of the Galaxy), microcosmic (Ant-Man), and mystical (Doctor Strange). With more films to go in Phase Three, the company shows no signs of slowing down or running out of fresh ideas anytime soon. However, there is one film project that has so far remained elusive to Marvel, namely The Inhumans.
Way back in 2014, Marvel Studios announced that an Inhumans film was in the works and settled on a fall 2018 release date. This would have put the film at the tail end of Phase Three, allowing the MCU plenty of time to build up to the existence of super-powered beings who got their abilities only after exposure to the mysterious Terrigen Mist. Yet, a funny thing happened the very same fall that the film was announced.
The Inhumans began to pop up on ABC series Agents of SHIELD, and it became apparent that Marvel Studios may have been using the characters as the conduit for uniting the films and television series across the MCU. Now that Marvel has released ABC series for the characters, plans for the film — which was removed from Marvel’s schedule — remain indefinitely stalled.
Even though the Inhumans will be getting a bit more air time on ABC, it doesn’t mean that the property won’t still work for the big screen. If the original plan was for The Inhumans to be the property that helps to bridge the gap between the film and TV series — a problem that Marvel has long had, considering the lack of substantive crossover between the two — there’s little reason that this isn’t still viable.
While the Inhumans on Agents of SHIELD are viewed largely through the perspective of Daisy Johnson aka Quake (Chloe Bennet), the Inhumans TV show focuses on the Inhuman Royal Family, which typically has led the comic book title over the years.
A movie could investigate what happens when a separate Inhuman from the comics crosses paths with the Avengers. They could introduce a new character into the MCU to view the Inhumans’ story with fresh eyes (for moviegoers unfamiliar with the shows), and let the film serve as the introduction of this concept into the film side of things. That would open up opportunities for Quake and other established Inhumans to make appearances as well, but again, this can only happen if the film and television sides of Marvel can learn to work together.
Perhaps Scarlet Witch’s heretofore murky origin could even be cleared up by a revelation that Loki’s staff actually unlocked the Inhuman abilities that already dwelled within her. In this case, the films would have already stealthily introduced an Inhuman into the midst.
Moreover, the Inhumans have largely been recognized as Marvel Studios’ alternative to the X-Men. Since Fox still holds the rights to those characters, the MCU cannot even utter the term “mutant” and had to alter the aforementioned Scarlet Witch’s origin to cut ties with her mutant status in the comics.
However, if The Inhumans ever hope to achieve even a fraction of the popularity of X-Men, Marvel Studios cannot simply rely on a pair of television series to get the word out. After all, the films reach a far larger audience than any MCU TV show ever could hope to.
While an Inhumans film (again) likely has been swept aside due to the tension between the film and television divisions at Marvel, there’s a lot of potential in the idea. Such a film could add a new dimension to both branches of the MCU, linking them in a way we still haven’t seen even after several years. Unless Marvel Studios continues injecting fresh story elements into its big-screen endeavors, the MCU is bound to run out of steam at some point, a fact that no fan wants to face.
The Inhumans may not be the most well-known property in the Marvel Comics canon, but neither was Iron Man until Robert Downey Jr. assumed the role. Give the Inhumans their time to shine. The story that comes together as a result could be exactly what the MCU needs in Phase Four.
Follow Robert Yaniz Jr. on Twitter @CrookedTable
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