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How INHUMANS Will and Won’t Connect to Marvel’s Comics, Movies and TV Shows

Who’s ready to go to the moon? Marvel’s latest TV adaptation, Inhumans, is about to dive deep into the Inhuman mythology the same mythology Agents of SHIELD has been exploring for a few seasons now — in a much more extensive capacity. The ABC series (which will actually debut in IMAX theaters first) follows the genetically-enhanced alien-human-hybrid species the Inhumans on Attilan, the secret society on the moon, and its Royal Family, including king Black Bolt (Anson Mount), his queen Medusa (Serinda Swan) and his brother Maximus (Iwan Rheon).

But Marvel’s Inhumans, originally slated to be a movie in the MCU before pivoting to a TV series, won’t be following the comic book source material religiously. When Nerdist visited the set in Hawaii earlier this year, the cast revealed many changes to their characters and story. For one, Maximus the Mad, as he’s known in the comic books, isn’t “Mad” at all. And he doesn’t even have any powers.

“He has nothing. The terrigenesis took away his Inhuman gene, so that was his transformation,” Rheon said. “He can’t do anything. He’s useless. He’s a dead man. It’s a very different take, I guess, using the same core ideals of Marvel’s Inhumans. It’s a very interesting thing for him because he is in theory a human. He feels there’s more to learn on Earth. Attilan is a very limited society. It’s a city on the moon and it is limited resources, limited, size, limited scope, and he believes that it’s too small for the people and the Inhumans could do better and move to Earth.”

Inhumans trailer

While Maximus may not be mentally unstable or have powerful mental abilities like he does in the comics, he seems to still be the antagonist of the new series. The synopsis revealed a coup will separate the Royal Family, leading them to take refuge in Hawaii. It looks like Maximus is the one to lead that military coup.

“Maximus is the brother of the king, Black Bolt. He’s part of the Royal Family, and he’s kind of maybe the yin to Black Bolt’s yang,” Rheon said. “They often don’t see eye-to-eye. He’s a very charismatic talker, whereas Black Bolt’s the complete opposite. That’s a very interesting dynamic. And also because his terrigenesis made him a human, he’s kind of looked down on by the rest of the Royal Family and the people of Attilan because he’s not one of them, in theory. It’s kind of the worst thing that can happen to you.”

And while Rheon wouldn’t classify Maximus as the villain of the story, it seems as if his actions ousting his brother as king is what sets the conflict of the series in motion.

“It’s a very different twist on the superhero genre in the sense that they’re not really superheroes that are going out to save humanity and help against evil baddies,” he said. “They’re a race of people that have been living completely separate on the moon away from the world. They don’t want anything to do with humans, and they’re hiding from them essentially. We pick up the story with the threat of [humans and Inhumans] meeting, and how that will pan out through the series is very interesting. The two worlds sort of start colliding and it’s a very interesting dynamic in how two segregated groups interact and how then you integrate them.”

Marvel, ABC

Something Inhumans is following closely from the comics is the fact that Black Bolt cannot speak, lest he destroy everything in his path. His terrigenesis ceremony turned his voice into a sonic weapon.

“That’s in all the source material,” Mount said. “When a young Black Bolt first went through his terrigenesis — a sort of coming-of-age for Inhumans when they reach puberty, there is a process in which they’re exposed to these crystals that kick their DNA into flipping to the next iteration of whatever they’ll become and they become their true selves. That’s where they get their power that’s specific to them. When he came out, his power was so frighteningly intense. He sneezed, he blows away half the world. So before he had learned to control it, he was shut away in this quiet room that literally funnels the energy of his voice if he speaks out into the stratosphere. He finally got control over it and himself and was able to leave, but it’s still there and it’s still where he goes to meditate.”

Mount revealed that he had to come up with an entirely new sign language for the series since he basically has no lines at all on the series.

“It’s great because I don’t look at it as a power,” Mount said. “That’s one of the great things and one of the ways in which Black Bolt is really well drawn. It’s smart. He is the leader who must be aware of the power and potential danger of his public voice. I think he’s immediately charming in that way. Readers appreciate Black Bolt because they see him struggling with a deep sense of responsibility. A king’s identity – a responsible king – their identity is the state. And he certainly is that.”

Physically, Black Bolt will look a bit different than his comic book counterpart in that he won’t be sporting his iconic mask. “I will say this: When you’re adapting something from a different medium, even if it’s a visual medium like a graphic novel, to a live-action, you have to ground it so that it’s more accessible to the viewer because it’s a colder medium,” Mount said. “They’re not going to be leaning as far forward. Like every theater geek who went to graduate school I did my time doing mask work. I’m not sure TV is the space for masks. There is a definite respect to the source material but we are making a TV show.”

Marvel, ABC

As for Medusa, her long, magical red hair is ripped straight from the comic books. On set, Swan had to wear a long red wig and the movements for her hair will be added in later with CGI, but it was still a big learning curve for the actress learning how swing the wig around as if it moved on its own.

“You have to learn how to do it. You use the hand movements that you would do,” Swan said. “I do it first how I would do it with my limbs and then from there, you mimic the same facial features that you would do because that’s basically what it is for her. It’s another appendage. It shows everything from protection to moves. It picks things up. There’s all of that. So it’s just learning how to use another part of your imagination.”

But will Inhumans connect to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe? According to every cast member: resoundingly no. Each actor made it clear that there will be no crossovers to any of the movies. “Not at the moment,” Isabelle Cornish, who plays Royal Family princess Crystal, said when asked of any movie crossover plans.

As for any connections or crossovers with Agents of SHIELD, which already introduced the mythology of the Inhumans and terrigenesis over the past few seasons, don’t hold your breath for that either. “I don’t believe so,” Ken Leung, who plays Karnak, a wise and formidable Inhuman despite never going through terrigenesis, said. “I think we are totally separate from that. Terrigenesis is in our world. But it’s not a spin-off, it’s not a continuation of the SHIELD stories.”

ABC, Marvel

Mount is glad that Inhumans is standing on its own, since he called the series “one of the more interesting mythos in the Marvel world.”

“I was a Marvel kid growing up, I subscribed to Peter Parker, I still have my collection in storage,” he said. “And I think of all of the potential adaptations that Marvel could want to do for television, Inhumans has got to be one of the bravest because it is so out there, and in a great way. I’m acting with a giant, imaginary dog sometimes, you know? I can tell you right now there’s not going to be anything on TV remotely like this show. One thing is that I like how their ‘powers’ are, I don’t really look at them as powers. I look at them as sometimes burdens. I think that that endears us to them as well.”

Swan agreed, adding, “I think it’s just an untold story. The beauty of Marvel is the stories and the characters within them. So I think it’s an opportunity to tell this one. I think it’s rare that a lead can’t speak and I think between [Black Bolt and Medusa] there’s a really beautiful connection and this journey that the two of them go on. Because you realize if they get separated, Black Bolt can’t communicate to anybody. At all. So there is this codependence there. It’s codependence between two very independent people. So that is something that is new within the world of Marvel to show. Obviously there’s been hints and talks and things about Inhumans around Marvel. But this is the first time you get to see the true source of the Inhumans on the moon in Attilan.”

Are you excited to see Inhumans? Are you bummed there won’t be any connections to SHIELD or any of the MCU movies? Tweet me at @SydneyBucksbaum and let’s discuss!

Inhumans will premiere the first two episodes exclusively in IMAX theaters on Sept. 1 for two weeks before its debut of the full series on Sept. 29 on ABC.

Images: Marvel, ABC

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