“Inhumans” Two-Hour Series Premiere Review: Switching Sides

Marvel and ABC’s highly publicized eight-episode series Inhumans has a lot of eyes on it for very unusual reasons. First of all, “Inhumans,” after being seeded for all but one season of “Agents of SHIELD,” was morphed from a film to a TV show rather late in the game. For another, the first two episodes premiered on IMAX screens earlier this month and was pretty much instantly condemned as subpar.

So, with all that baggage, is Inhumans as bad as everyone says it is? Well…

The Inhuman population of Attilan, a city hidden on Earth’s moon, is ruled by Black Bolt (Anson Mount) and his wife Medusa (Serinda Swan) with Black Bolt’s brother Maximus (Iwan Rheon) at their side. However, Maximus plots a coup that ends with Black Bolt, Medusa and several trusted members of their inner circle exiled to Earth while Maximus ascends to rule the throne.

Yes, “Inhumans” sounds absolutely ridiculous on paper, but in fairness, so does everything else Marvel does. There’s a lot to set up in the first two episodes- strung together for their first airing on ABC- and you may have a few questions as to who some people are and how they figure into the story. Take Medusa’s sister Crystal (Isabelle Cornish), who is clumsily introduced before suddenly becoming a central character to the action.

The show leaps right into its’ central conflict with Maximus, who to the show’s credit, is not the one dimensional power freak that has plagued so many Marvel properties. Rheon makes him more believable and compelling to watch, even during otherwise boring scenes. Anson Mount deserves serious credit for pulling off a character who never speaks, due to his powerful and potentially destructive voice, and does a lot with his body language. Crystal and her adorable companion Lockjaw add some levity to the proceedings, while Serinda Swan’s Medusa gets some more serious drama, albeit set off in a very laughable fashion.

There’s a lot that “Inhumans” gets wrong, though. Certain beats are so oddly off, that it’s tough to tell what the writers were going for here- Ken Leung’s Karnak gets one of these early on and it’s pretty cringeworthy. Subplots are very obviously there to pad out the series, like Ellen Woglom’s curious physicist and the missing Triton, and both take up a lot of screen time. And the series needs to cool it with the slow motion shots.

With all that said, is “Inhumans” a complete train wreck? No, not by a long shot. The conflict is interesting and you do want to see how it plays out over the series. The powers are used in a creative way and some are wisely reserved for key moments. The world of Attilan is fun and cool to look at, and it should sustain for the next six episodes. “Inhumans” may not be the best Marvel show you’ll see all year, but it’s far from the hopeless case it’s made out to be. The show hasn’t killed it’s chances yet, so here’s to giving it a chance.

Inhumans airs Fridays at 9pm on ABC.

Photo Credit: ABC/Mario Perez