OK: I admit it. I was going to write this as a phony ABC development staff meeting script, but I got trolled for saying “just because it’s Marvel doesn’t mean it’s good” once, and I am now a cowed toady.
OK: I admit it, that’s not totally true. Let us discuss Marvel’s Inhumans.
Though I personally did not read these comics in the 1960s, partially because I was born in the 1970s and partially because they weren’t my thing, I have it on good authority that certain characters from this series were kinda badass. Especially Lockjaw, the space/time-bending, elephant-sized bulldog. Despite some phoned-in naming conventions (the chick with prehensile hair had to be named “Medusa”? And there’s a character named “Gorgon”? Because, like, Medusa was a Gorgon?) and the fact that there are only so many series you can make, in any medium, about plucky mutants who face constant persecution from the envious and frightened ranks of the non-enhanced before they start to be distinguishable only by how cool someone’s Supersuit is, I trust my source, who tells me that these comics had some, like, thing-ness. Distinctiveness? Sorry, ADHD. Or possibly MRTD (Marvel Repetitive Trope Disorder, which makes you gain weight around your middle, lose your ability to focus, and break out in a bumpy rash when a downward-spiraling panoply of almost interchangeable film and TV properties are obviously trying to make money off your ADHD).
Where was I? I can’t seem to focus because of this bumpy rash. OK, I invoked the law of entropy. I refrained from writing this in the form of a screenplay set in a producer bullpen at ABC where we see the team discussing how to make neoprene and duct tape look swanky and where a meaty-fisted exec of some kind downs ten shots of Bulletproof butter-coffee and ranted about X-Men he can’t get his ham-hands on. Oh! I know. Review! I knew something was missing.
Regarding Marvel’s Inhumans, there are several somethings missing. One is good writing. Another is compelling characters. Editing? There’s a paucity of good editing. The costumes even look slapped together. The CG megadoggie has more personality than most of the (in)human characters, and I kinda saw Maximus (Iwan Rheon) as a good guy and I am pretty sure he’s supposed to be a villain. Brethren, when a character is played by Iwan Rheon and you aren’t sure if he’s good or bad, something is really not working. He really didn’t seem like a conniving usurper; he seemed like the cogent one. That ain’t right, folks. Aside from the CG Superpooch, though, Rheon’s portrayal of Maximus is definitely the most watchable aspect of the show. He has complexity, a characteristic not really bequeathed to any of the other principal characters.
I don’t really know what else to say: For me, this thing’s a total lemon. If you squint and pretend it’s a comedy, you can almost make some of it kind of funny. But I’d like to propose that not every single Disney-owned Stan Lee-penned character or scenario has to have big and/or small screen iterations. These showrunners took an admittedly slightly weary high concept and created a terribly boring retread and that’s pretty much the deal. I’m not sure superpowers have ever been quite this banal.
Marvel’s Inhumans premieres Friday, Sept. 29 on ABC.
Amy Glynn is a poet, essayist and fiction writer who really likes that you can multi-task by reviewing television and glasses of Cabernet simultaneously. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.