Although the official reviews for Marvel’s Inhumans are embargoed until later this month, some initial reactions to the screener episode the public relations team at Marvel made available to press have been surfacing from various crevices of the web. Needless to say, things haven’t been looking up for Marvel’s latest television foray. I’m here to tell you that regardless of what some critics are saying, we still need to give Inhumans a chance.
It was just under ten years ago that fans were first treated to Robert Downey Jr.’s absolutely perfect portrayal of Tony Stark and his super hero alter ego Iron Man. The beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was unfolding before our very eyes. Although Iron Man wasn’t the biggest name in Marvel lore at the time of his live-action debut, we’ve now seen all sorts of A-listers — Captain America, Thor, the Incredible Hulk — hit the silver screen. But even with those heavy hitters showing up on the big screen, the teams at Marvel Studios and Marvel TV have taken major risks at lesser-known properties since then. Prior to its release in 2014, one out of fifty fans could have named the members of the team that’d debut in Guardians of the Galaxy and hell, the statistic is probably being nice.
Now, look at the franchise. Between its initial offering and James Gunn’s follow-up flick, the Guardians franchise has grossed over $1.6 billion at the box office for Marvel Studios. Add on all of the merchandising, toy sales, and soundtrack numbers and Kevin Feige is probably licking his lips at the chance to add more Guardians movies to the Marvel slate. The fact of the matter is, Marvel has taken tremendous risks since they’ve launched the shared cinematic universe we’ve all come to know and love — after all, that’s why you’re reading this site right now. And more times than not, those risks have been off in dividends for the entertainment wing at the House of Ideas.
Originally announced as a movie for Marvel Studios as early as 2011, the release date for a movie kept finding itself delayed time and time again until the folks at IMAX agreed to co-finance a series with ABC. After the extensive storylines including the Inhumans race within the events of ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., let’s be honest — Inhumans being a part of Marvel TV at this stage of the MCU only makes sense.
Because it’s co-financed by IMAX, when the show first premieres in early September, it’s going to mark another first for Marvel Television. The first two episodes will be packaged in a movie-like format and be shown at exclusively at IMAX theatres across the globe for a couple of weeks before the show moves to its Friday night slot on ABC.
When first announced, it was a move that took most, if not all MCU fans by surprise. Not only were we getting a new show to watch in addition to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but the first two episodes would be shot with IMAX cameras and be shown at some of the highest-quality theatres in the world. How kickass is that? The thing is, there’s a good chance the people who had access to the screener episode watched in on their computer or tablet and therein lies one of the biggest criticism so far — the show isn’t meeting the quality standards of some critics.
But you see, those criticisms really answer themselves. First and foremost, screener episodes rarely include finished video effects, regardless of network. Second, expecting an IMAX experience while watching it on your laptop isn’t only the wrong thought process, but it’s unfair to the entire production. It’s like watching your favorite viral video from Youtube and getting mad at the creator because your phone screen is too small. It’s like pulling up your favorite song on Tidal and listening through your cheap Walmart-bought earbuds only to get mad at Jay-Z because your current set-up doesn’t allow you to listen to 4:44 in immersive surround sound.
Throughout the entire Inhumans mythos, the storylines have nearly always included some conflict between the various members of the Royal Family and from everything we’ve seen shared online about the screen episode, that plot line is there. In an article we posted earlier this week that compiles the earliest reactions to the show, a Reddit user who got their hands on the screener confirmed that the family portion of the show is there:
Gorgon and Karnak, Medusa and Black Bolt, and Black Bolt and Maximus all share conversations or scenes together that really sell the idea that they’re all one big family.
Nearly since the dawn of their beginnings in Marvel comics lore, Blackagar Boltagon and his brother Maximus have always been in a power struggle for the throne in Attilan. And everything we’ve seen and heard from the trailers, panels, and early screenings is that this is, in fact, something we’ll get. It’s a plot line that begs to ask the question: What does family mean to you? Is family restricted to just those who we share the same bloodline with or can a family be made up of those who support us every second of every day regardless of their relation? And I think it’s a question that each and every one of us has thought about at least some point throughout our lives.
Another one of the bigger criticisms coming from those who have seen the screener relates the slow pacing of the show. To that, I say this: it could very well be another Marvel property that is heavier and paced quicker later in the show, in the episodes that the studios don’t release for reviews because, you know, spoilers and stuff.
Let’s take a look at a few fellow Marvel TV properties — Luke Cage and Iron Fist — to help address this issue. Nine out of 10 people who read this article will more than likely choose Luke Cage as the superior show and that’s fine. Personally, I’m on the Living Weapon’s side but that’s a story for another day. The point here is, Luke Cage and Iron Fist were virtually polar opposites in terms of pacing. Luke Cage started out with a bang and as soon as Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes (Mahershala Ali) kicked the bucket, the show nearly came to a screeching halt as we were left trying to figure out what that mess of Diamondback (Erik LaRay Harvey) was.
Iron Fist, on the other hand, was this crazy slow procedural drama for the first five episodes and once the halfway point to the show came around, the pacing picked up and we were treated to some of the finest performances of the show as we were introduced to Davos (Sacha Dhawan) and Bakuto (Ramon Rodriguez).
Keep in mind that Netflix traditionally releases six episodes to the press to review. These Inhumans criticisms? They’re coming out after just one screen episode. Doesn’t that seem a bit preposterous?
Critics are at a point where they’re willing to base their judgment of an entire property off of just one episode. They’re a point where they’re letting themselves take a property, one that features a king who can level a country by whispering, a queen who can choke out subordinates with her hair, and the king’s cousin — who has hooves, mind you — who can level a city block by taking a single step, and already count it as a bust after just the pilot episode.
In 2008, nobody would have believed you if you said we’d see Black Bolt in live action someday. Now we’re not only getting Black Bolt, we treated to his wife Medusa and the rest of the Inhuman Royal Family. In a decade, we’ve seen a man in an iron suit. We’ve seen an Army guy from World War II frozen in ice and we’ve seen a former Soviet spy turned serial ass-kicker. We’ve seen a witch and a blind vigilante that kicks major ass in Hell’s Kitchen. We’ve seen a Sorcerer Supreme and we’ve seen an Immortal Weapon.
We’re at a point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe where literally anything is a possibility and because of that, we need to give Inhumans a chance.