When the Marvel Cinematic Universe first put the Inhumans movie on the table it looked like we were about to see a whole other facet of the Marvel Universe making its way to the big screen. But when the movie was pulled from its specified 2019 release date back in April of this year, it looked like the Inhuman ship might have sprung a leak.
The popular theory surrounding this was that Marvel and ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had sunk the project, with the Inhumans storyline solidifying itself as part of the Marvel TV universe as it wove its way throughout Season 3 of the TV show. The existence of the mysterious altered humans became the driving force of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., bringing the Kree back to the forefront after the MCU's flirtation with the alien race in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. also introduced the concept of Terrigenesis to the wider MCU, something that has been very important in the Marvel Comics as of late. But there’s been no news about the status of Inhumans since Kevin Feige confirmed it had been removed from Marvel's release calendar earlier this year. Or at least, there was no news until now, but what we’ve learned isn’t good news for Inhumans fans.
There Currently Isn’t A Screenplay For Inhumans
SlashFilm caught up with The People Vs. O.J. Simpson screenwriter Joe Robert Cole earlier this month for a chat about the upcoming Black Panther — T’Challa’s first solo outing, which Cole is penning. But Cole was also originally on the roster to write Inhumans too, and it seems even he isn’t sure what the status of the movie is right now. He told SlashFilm:
"I don’t know if 'Inhumans' is on the slate. For some reason, everyone thinks that I’m writing or have written "Inhumans.' There is not an 'Inhumans' script yet so I’m not sure how that will be moving forward."
Indeed, there’s been barely a whiff of Inhuman activity in the MCU so far. Once a particular hero is earmarked to be introduced to the shared universe we usually start getting little hints toward their existence bleeding through into the other movies — the mention of Doctor Stephen Strange in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, for example.
But not so in the case of Inhumans: No Black Bolt, no Medusa, no teleporting dog nor kick-ass base on the moon to be seen. Which begs the question:
Will The TV Shows And Movies Remain Separate?
Last year Feige told Collider that an eventual crossover between the movies and TV shows of the MCU would be "inevitable at some point," though he does point out that the differing schedules of the movies and shows make coordinating such a crossover a little difficult:
"The reality of it is by the time we start doing a movie, they’d be midway through a season then by the time the movie comes out they’d be done with the second and starting the third season, so finding timing on that is not always easy."
The street-level Netflix shows have been peppered with references to the events of The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has always been closely tied to the feature films through the characters of Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and the way the show picks up plot strands from the wider MCU.
But the movies in turn don't seen to take much notice of their TV show counterparts, partly because of the fact that the movies take much longer to make and so find it difficult to keep up with the quicker to produce Netflix shows. And of course the two are very separate divisions. Despite the fact that they're reading from the same narrative broadsheet, they have different people overviewing them — Ike Perlmutter and Jeph Loeb head up the TV division, while Feige and Disney’s Alan Horn take care of the MCU.
There's been much speculation about whether or not we'd see one of the future Defenders in this year's Captain America: Civil War or the upcoming Infinity War. But even though at least one of the TV show cast members would love to get in on the action (hint: It's Charlie Cox as Daredevil), there's not been much overlap thus far.
So, have the Inhumans been relegated to TV show characters only? If so, it feels like a wasted opportunity — especially in the wake of the MCU shattering Civil War and the myriad possibilities that Infinity War will open up. Perhaps moving forward the show will set up the formation of the Inhuman group as we know them from the comics, with Medusa and the rest of the Royal Family in Attilan? But there's something else that could explain this void of news.
Are The Inhumans Replacing The X-Men?
The Inhumans are in an interesting place in the comics right now. The Terrigen Mists unleashed by the Inhuman monarch Black Bolt have been traversing the globe, triggering the latent mutation buried within the DNA of the Inhuman race. But these mists have had another effect — they're killing mutants, including the X-Men. And they aren't just killing mutants, the mists have also sterilized them, meaning that no new mutants will be born in the Marvel Universe. Ever.
There's been much speculation that whittling down the X-Men in the comics is a response to the fact that 20th Century Fox still owns the highly profitable film rights to the characters. It's also worth noting that any new X-Men created will also have their movie rights owned by Fox, as clarified by iconic X-Men writer Chris Claremont during a segment on The Nerdist Podcast back in 2014:
"I have to say quite honestly as I understand it now the X department is forbidden to create new characters... All because all new characters become the film property of Fox."
But this makes it even more odd that Marvel Studios is sidelining the Inhumans right now. Though the X-Men are still running with various series such as All-New X-Men, Extraordinary X-Men, and spin-offs such as All-New Wolverine and Deadpool vs. Gambit, their presence as one of Marvel's flagship teams has waned in the wake of the Terrigen disaster and the supposed death of Scott Summers/Cyclops.
And in many ways the Inhumans have stepped in as the X-Men's replacements, or at least as challengers to their title. There are multiple parallels between the X-Men and the Inhumans. Both are powerful and misunderstood groups born of a mutation in their DNA (though from different origins). Both are feared and ostracized by a society that both groups fight to protect. Both have figureheads who try to reach out to humans, and both have outliers who believe they shouldn't try to live amongst regular people.
The Inhumans are also central to big happenings in the Marvel Universe right now. As Civil War II rages on, their group is the unwitting trigger for the event in the first place. And manipulations by outside forces are causing the Inhumans to be blamed for attacking humanity, leading them into direct confrontation with both Tony Stark/Iron Man and Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel.
So are the Inhumans replacing the X-Men in the comics as an attempt to get one over on Fox? In the recent run of Extraordinary X-Men it is revealed through Mr. Sinister's experiments that the Inhuman gene is in fact superior to that of the X-gene — meaning that, genetically, the X-gene is doomed to die out while the Inhumans thrive.
And if the end game is to really push the Inhumans as the new X-Men, why so coy about keeping them out of the MCU? A likely explanation is that Marvel are playing a longer game, building the team up in the comics with Civil War II and the Terrigen crisis in order to make them a more recognisable and more profitable franchise before carrying them over to the MCU.
For now though, at least Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. revealed that the Inhumans do exist in the wider MCU. As for when and if they'll get their movie shuffled back onto the release calendar, we'll just have to wait and see (and keep an eye on Joe Robert Cole for any whisper of screenplay news).
Do you still want to see an Inhumans movie as part of the MCU? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!