The Inhumans: so bad it’s good?

TV or film-wise, based on what’s being shown in IMAX right now, “Inhumans” is legitimately the worst Marvel adaptation of the year (yes, even beating out “Iron Fist”). In fact, as far as terrible Marvel adaptations go, you might have to go all the way back to Roger Corman’s unreleased 1994 “Fantastic Four” film to best it.

Liz Shannon Miller, IndieWire

To make something from a Marvel concept this blithely, wonderfully and resolutely weird demands time and budget and — maybe most of all — commitment, and none of those three things showed up to set. There’s no scale, here: Everything’s hedged, hemmed-in, cramped. The script feels like a first, place-holdery pass.

Glen Weldon, NPR

Last week was the first time Marvel’s Inhumans made me feel really mad.  The show unveiled its big twist: that Black Bolt knew that Maximus was planning a coup, and without telling his closest confidantes he had Triton fake his death in Episode One so that… OK, beats me.  I’m guessing mainly to save budget on the copious make-up that they had to apply to the actor.

Literally nothing in Black Bolt’s playbook makes sense.  Why did he hide this from his wife?  The show handwaves Black Bolt’s duplicity away as if it were unimportant.  Why didn’t Black Bolt just clap Maximus into irons?  Was Lockjaw’s teleportation of the Royal Family part of the plan?  Did that plan involve getting caught by the cops?  If the show was trying to make him out as some sort of clever boots by thinking two steps ahead of his conniving brother, it totally and utterly failed.  Worse, they invited comparisons to a similar plot in the superior Paul Jenkins/Jae Lee miniseries… and in a direct head-to-head comparison, the TV version looks straight up insulting.

The show is a huge unsalvageable mess.  But it’s an intriguing mess.  Somehow, on a week where rubbery men are fighting alongside speedsters and angsty mutants are fighting back against a world that fears and hates them, I began looking forward to the antics of the Inhuman royal family the most.  Because, week by week, it had found a way to upset me in new and different ways.

The badness of the show seems to be hardcoded in its creation.  It got pulled from the big screens and downgraded to a television miniseries.  Its consolation prize as a TV show making its debut on IMAX screens felt like it was fulfilling a legal contract.  There were stories of a feud between Kevin Feige at the movie division and Ike Perlmutter at the television unit.  Meanwhile, comic fans were getting upset that the importance of the Inhumans seemed artificially inflated for the sole reason that the movie rights to the popular X-Men franchise were tied with rival studio Fox.  Did anyone actually want to make Inhumans?

At least we’ll get a big teleporting dog out of it, right?

The IMAX two-hour pilot was poorly received.  However, that was only a taste of an eight-hour miniseries.   It could get better, right?  We were promised Game of Thrones set in the Marvel Universe.

Instead, we got Karnak falling in love with a sexy weed farmer and running away from rival drug dealers.  Who are all completely forgotten an episode or two later.  Just like the Hawaiian paramilitary jungle bros that Gorgon makes friends with.

Incidentally, there’s a point in the show where Gorgon refuses to abandon the jungle guys because while his loyalties are with the Royal Family, his new friends are family too.  He’s know these guys for, what, two days?  That’s not a speech you give to guys you just met!

What is going on with this show?  I’ve never seen Game of Thrones.  Does that show also involve a reliance on the kindness of surfer bros who accidentally run over your giant dog?

Serinda Swan had this to say about their motivations:

“Inhumans see the humans as evil and the humans see the Inhumans as evil,” Swan said. “So you see this dynamic, this duality come together where it’s two misunderstandings. You start to bridge that gap over time and [learn] to be more open and compassionate to differences.”

It’s a great theme… and it never comes across in the show at all.  When Black Bolt crash lands on Earth, he’s disoriented but tries to be as cooperative as possible.  Medusa is a little more rude, but she’s looking for her husband so a lot of that can be chalked up to nerves.  All of the Inhumans are totally chill with humans from the start.  There is no misunderstanding between humans and inhumans.  In fact, it seems like most of the people they encounter have a hard time believing superpowered people exist.

It’s why I think this show is so bad it’s good.  You know how some bad movies seem like they were written by space aliens who’d perhaps seen a movie but could quite figure out how to make anything work naturally?  Inhumans is a show made by space aliens.  They’d seen superhero movies and TV shows.  They had all the familiar elements in place but couldn’t quite make the pieces seem natural.

The most intriguing part about Inhumans is you can see glimmers of a much better product.

What if they had made this into a movie that had the budget of Guardians of the Galaxy or Thor: Ragnarok?  Would we have seen Jack Kirby’s fever dreams come to fruition?  Would we have been spared the plotline of Medusa’s haircut because they could actually show her superpowers?

What if Scott Buck wasn’t the show runner?  What if, instead, we had someone with a more unifying vision like Greg Berlanti?  Shoot, on his show they managed to animate a super-intelligent gorilla.  Could he have found a way to make it where Gorgon wasn’t wearing boots all the time?

What if they didn’t have money for any special effects… but managed to tighten focus to the power struggle rather than the string of utterly disposable episodes that we did get?

This show is just so bad, made more shocking because Marvel, thus far, has not missed the mark so badly before.  But, Lord help me, I’ll be right back watching the final episode this Friday.