Hit or Sh**: ABC’s INHUMANS
In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.
My superhero fatigue first showed symptoms back in 2015, after seeing AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON. I still remember the cold void left by a film completely incapable of delivering on the astronomical hype Marvel pumps into every single project. The consistently profitable genre has been showing cracks ever since, and every super-stinker released causes damage to the MCU that take over two hours of Robert Downey Jr. screen time to repair. Then, of course, comes the issue of the inevitable crossovers, which recently manifested as the constant belittlement of Danny Rand in THE DEFENDERS. I find it almost off-puttingly ballsy that Marvel tries to joke about its own deep financial blunders, especially when no lesson was learned. Why Scott Buck was given another chance after IRON FIST is a secret only known to the mystical powers that be over at Disney, but hopefully the critical whomping laid down upon INHUMANS will send a clearer message.
The pilot spends about 90 percent of the dialogue on world-building and over-explaining how superpowers are hidden in certain people’s genes, activating when exposed to an element called Terrigen. These people fled Earth long ago and built a base on the Moon, but now they can’t stay much longer, because the base is too small and the humans are close to discovering them. King Black Bolt (Anson Mount) rules the base alongside his queen, Medusa (Serinda Swan), and his powerless brother, Maximus (Iwan Rheon), lurks around too. Minor heroes Karnak (Ken Leung), Gorgon (Eme Ikwuakor), Crystal (Isabelle Cornish), and animated giant woofer Lockjaw round out the rest of the Royal Family. And yes, Lockjaw is the only good part of the show.
The magnitude of the pilot’s events require sublimely touching conversations and exquisite cinematography to convey their intended impact, and INHUMANS contains exactly none of that. Black Bolt refuses to justify staying on the Moon with anything other than “trust your king,” so Maximus instigates a revolution by killing a member of the poorly-named Genetic Council and inexplicably gaining control of the base’s military. Given the available information, most people would probably side with Maximus and leave the Moon. But he’s a Marvel villain, so of course he’s secretly a bloodthirsty maniac with a creepy crush on his brother’s wife. Maximus gives us the only common sense perspective, and the show makes it literally impossible to root for him.
How did he get cast as a villain after being so likable on GAME OF THRONES??
The other heroes aren’t exactly unlikable, they’re just so goddamn boring. Black Bolt’s kingly power—his voice vaporizes people—gets absolutely zero usage save for a jarringly shoehorned scene in which he kills his parents. Medusa’s super strong hair looks pretty sweet I suppose, but when Maximus cuts it off, all I could think about was Piscatella from ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK doing the exact same thing to Red. I remembered how disgusted and angry that scene made me, and how little I cared about this show by comparison. The other heroes are so nondescript I can’t even tell you what exactly their powers are. Gorgon’s a foal who can kick super hard, Karnak can reverse time when he dies, and Crystal owns Lockjaw, who can teleport.
After not one, but two, fighting montages set to not one, but two, edgy, distorted covers of classic rock songs, the gang sans Maximus winds up in Hawaii of all places. I don’t know what sort of wacky world-saving shenanigans the heroes are going to get into this time, but I’m sure that I don’t want to watch them. I already know that Maximus is toast, that Black Bolt will defeat the big bad, and the inevitable attempt at a funny scene with Lockjaw will fall flat and make me sad. The overall artistic impact of INHUMANS is perhaps best summed up by this excerpt from the script of THE AVENGERS 6: AGE OF ULTRON 2 1/2:
Should we call the Inhumans, Tony?
No they suck and get low ratings.
THEY REMEMBERED THAT THEY SUCKED HAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!
INHUMANS airs on ABC on Fridays