Don’t believe the anti-hype.
Look, I know you didn’t actually go to see Marvel’s Inhumans in IMAX, but I bit the bullet for everyone yesterday, and let me tell you — it’s not as bad as the others say it is.
Barring two of the most boneheaded plot points in modern television, I’d say it’s actually pretty good.
And it’ll do a lot better on TV than it did tossed to the cinematic wolves as it was. The first two episodes of Marvel’s Inhumans are tightly plotted with most of the characters defined well and positioned for their future developments with the economy of dialogue required.
Anson Mount as Black Bolt puts in a performance leagues beyond what we were led to understand in the promotional material. Some of it’s a little more hammy than you’d want to see, but emoting without words ain’t easy, and TV isn’t exactly big on subtlety.
Iwan Rheon’s Maximus is appropriately slimy, and is twisting machinations from the opening, as he should. Karnak’s “seeing the flaw in all things” is displayed in neat, unconventional ways, whether it be by ruining his own one-night-stand before it happens, or calculating outcomes prior to a fight.
Crystal and Gorgon are kind of blank slates, but someone was bound to get short shrift in the 75 minute runtime that needed to: introduce everyone, foment a coup, and get the Royal Family off-Moon in a hurry. Actually, Gorgon is a little more of a dudebro than a blank slate, but the effect is the same.
The good and the bad of Inhumans can be encapsulated by Serinda Swan’s Medusa. She’s strong as queen at first, and her hair is portrayed as wonderfully reflexive and powerful in an early confrontation with Maximus, raising like a balled fist at the first sign of trouble before cutting loose when it’s time to throw down.
But the strange color scheme and unnecessary, ’90s-style boob window on her unitard — not to mention THE dumbest supervillain tactic perhaps in the history of storytelling being inflicted upon her — can go a long way to undermining that good will. It removes the viewer from the narrative, much the same way the show’s opening scene seems to be an unfiltered justification for the IMAX cameras, and the establishing shots of Hawaii that seem like a tourism commercial you’d see on early morning CNN.
I’ll spoil the other dumb thing — Karnak, the great analyzer, essentially slipping on a banana peel to take him off the board — because the real spoiling was already done by the advertisements and promo photos. We all know they looked like crap, the director knew they looked like crap, so why was any of this released to the public? I’d think no hype is better than anti-hype. As Inhumans fiscally fails in IMAX, I put most of the blame on the atrocious marketing campaign and not the material itself, which is far from the worst thing Marvel has ever produced.
And that’s why I think it’ll do fine once it hits ABC, where no one has to pay inflated prices for the oversized screen they already own. Well, at least as fine as Agents of SHIELD has. From a structural and pacing standpoint, this is clearly a television show, reaching the same levels of complexity and dramatic intrigue as other successful, network TV efforts. That may be a backhanded compliment, but hey, it got Coulson and company a fifth season.