When Marvel announced that Inhumans was headed to IMAX and TV screens next Labor Day it took most of the MCU world by surprise. In part, because the turn-around is very quick. A show runner was announced shortly later and actors will start being announced soon. Everything has to move swiftly in order for the show to shoot and go through what should be a heavy VFX process in time for the September launch. That said, in addition to casting we should soon get an idea of the villains coming to the show. Who will the royal family be fighting when the show debuts? Here are a few of the best options from the comics, particularly the early, formative years of the characters?
Maximus the Mad
Maximus will almost certainly be the main villain of the series. Not only is he the most common villain in the history of the Inhumans, but he is an intimate part of the balance of the royal family. Inhumans works as a property in part because the characters are part of a royal court, in part because they are family. As often as Maximus has tried to overthrow Black Bolt and take over as ruler of the people, Bolt’s hands are always a little tied because he’s still his brother. Without going into spoiler territory, there is also a deep reason why Black Bolt feels responsible for his brother’s evil doings as well. A very likely format to the series will be that Maximus will be either imprisoned or allowed to operate within the royal house under close watch. In this context, he almost never makes an explicit play for the throne, but instead, plays the puppet master scheming his usurpation. So though he will serve as the likely big bad, some other entity might either work for him or as a complicating, distracting factor.
A Foreign State and Military
In the seminal Inhumans story by Paul Jenkins (the second volume of “Inhumans”), a foreign military has decided to attack and destroy the Inhumans’ city of Attilan. A race of superhumans living next door is enough to make most world leaders jittery, so the story makes plenty of sense. Such a storyline can do a couple of other things for the show as a whole. One, it brings in the theme of isolationism versus interaction for Inhuman society. The desire to remain aloof from human concerns and the desire to be part of human society are a key tension in many stories, particularly the early period when Crystal was both member of the Fantastic Four and Inhuman royal. Black Bolt can easily blast the humans to smithereens, but should he? Also, the conflict often is a wonderful cover for Maximus’ machinations. The Inhumans have tumbled with General Ross at times in the comics, usually in Hulk stories, so it would be interesting to see the MCU Secretary of State in negotiations with the Inhumans.
The Inhumans are the result of experimentation of the Kree with human DNA. As such they tend to pop up from time to time in the comics as an adversary. (Most of the third volume of Inhumans focuses on the Kree and Ronan the Accuser, though Ronan is now dead in the MCU.) This connection has already been played up a little, with the Kree sending a few super soldiers to earth in season three of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and going toe to toe with Hive. If Marvel wants to connect the show closely with their other ABC property, this would be an obvious way to create synergy. The Kree have appeared over and over in various capacities with Coulson and co. This approach is also a far more cosmic take and would fit better with an Inhumans base on the moon, versus a version in the Himalayas matching the previous suggestion more closely.
The Alpha Primitives, a sub-race of Inhumans who are essentially mindless minions of the main society, have actually already appeared in some form in the MCU. Remember those Watchdogs who were turned into mindless servants of Hive on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? The ones whose faces looked a bit like an unfortunate orifice? The undeniable low point of that shows makeup work? Yeah, those were supposed to be Alpha Primitives. The upside of this underclass is that they provide Maximus with an army of largely disposable individuals. On the other hand, a race of slaves who were genetically engineered by a monarchy to live as a despised caste is not exactly a way to sell a group of characters. It wouldn’t be surprising to see this sociological land mine to disappear, but maybe not.
The “Evil Inhumans”
While not an official team designation, 1960’s Inhuman appearances often featured a group of villains some Marvel wikis refer to as “Evil Inhumans.” They are a group of Inhumans who like the idea of rule by Maximus and support his attempts to overthrow his brother. The group goes through some roster changes, but all the characters are the sort of D level characters who Marvel could use and adapt without too much fan outrage. These characters include Leonus (a Thundercats-esque character with strap on Wolverine style claws), Timberius (a pre-Groot Groot), Falcona (a woman can control a flock of falcons), Aireo (a guy who flies), Stallior (a centaur), and Nebulo (a living shadow similar to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s General Androvich). While these characters are pretty campy for modern audiences, they could be reworked into an interesting group of extremist, anti-royal Inhuman terrorists pretty easily. Their skill sets would fit well into a covert group of seditionists.
The very first Inhuman villain is a character called The Seeker. He is in the employ of Maximus and he travels the earth bringing back Inhumans who have wondered away from their people. In his first appearance, Crystal has escaped to see the world of humans and fallen in love with Human Torch. Seeker finds her in order to forcibly return her to Attilan. While the character is unlikely to fit the bigger picture of the Inhumans series, he is the kind of character that could be an awesome cameo or easter egg. Marvel tends to like to send up to origin comic stories, so it would be fun if at some point the royals beckoned a servant named Kadlec (The Seeker’s real name) to bring someone into their presence.
Ok, so this actually will never happen. The name is relatively insensitive to a real group of people who struggle with mental illness. His rights likely belong to Fox, as a frequent Fantastic Four villain. And his power, making people feel extreme emotions via a machine he built, is silly. The image of a man with a giant emotion remote was just too good to not include. “You can’t! Don’t use the psycho ray on me!”