As much as Tuesday’s big announcement from Marvel - confirming all their new releases up to 2019 - has sparked widespread excitement, it’s also had a great many less comics-savvy fans headed to a search engine with one particular question: who or what are ‘The Inhumans?’
Whilst ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Captain Marvel’ aren’t exactly the best-known comic book characters around (nor was ‘Iron Man’ pre-2008, we might point out), these characters are not too hard for the uninitiated to get to grips with.
'The Inhumans,' however, aren't so quick and easy a sell. As Marvel super-teams go, these guys are considerably weirder than the Avengers, and their members are rather more obscure (although, again, not so long ago this could also be said of the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' - currently Marvel's third biggest box office hit ever…)
So who are they? Well, not unlike the Avengers, the X-Men, the Guardians or just about any Marvel super-team you could name, the line-up of The Inhumans has been known to change, but put simply they are are a race of Earth beings born with extraordinary powers.
As such, they may not seem too far removed from the X-Men - but the key difference is the Inhumans do not live among humanity but completely separate from it, in an isolated subterranean society.
Like a great many iconic Marvel characters, the Inhumans are creations of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and made their first appearance as antagonists in ‘The Fantastic Four’ in 1965, They were briefly given their own title in 1975, before being revived in the late 1990s.
On top of this, they appeared in the 1990s ‘Fantastic Four’ cartoon series, broadly retelling the events of their introductory story. (We might note Black Panther did likewise - making this cartoon a good starting point for viewers seeking a convenient introduction to these characters.)
Key Inhumans include Medusa, whose signature red locks boast super-strength and elasticity (think Mr Fantastic by way of Rapunzel in ‘Tangled’); her sister Crystal, with the power to manipulate the elements - air, fire, water and earth; Gorgon, whose bull-like legs can cause earth tremors; and Karnak, a master of hand-to-hand combat.
However, their figurehead - and toughest of them all - is Black Bolt, who, on top of boasting speed and strength to match the toughest heroes out there, has a voice which can destroy a city. As such, he lives as a mute.
There have been rumours that Vin Diesel - prior to being cast as Groot in ‘Guardians’ - may have originally met with Marvel in connection to the role of Black Bolt.
So how will these rather peculiar characters come to fit in the contemporary Marvel Cinematic Universe - particularly given how closely related they would seem to be to ‘The Fantastic Four,’ who of course are not part of the MCU (the film rights being owned by 20th Century Fox)?
Well - not unlike the Guardians, the fact that the Inhumans aren’t the most beloved Marvel characters out there probably means the studio won’t mind diverging from the comic chronology somewhat, much as James Gunn did with Starlord, Gamora and co.
However, the Inhumans as written do have ties to the established MCU, as they are the result of experimentation done by the Kree (the alien species of ‘Guardians’ villian Ronan) on primitive homo sapiens millions of years ago.
Also, Inhuman Crystal - initially romanced by the F4’s Johnny Storm - winds up marrying future Avenger Quicksilver (to be played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’).
Given that ‘The Inhumans’ movie isn’t set to land until November 2018, slap bang in the middle of ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Part 1 (May 2018) and Part 2 (May 2019), it seems fair to imagine theirs will be more of a standalone story much as ‘Guardians’ was, without too much overt connection to the events of the MCU phase 3.
But who’s to say how much resonance ‘The Inhumans’ might come to have on the MCU beyond that point…?
Picture Credit: Marvel