As a Marvel fan, I have to say that, first and foremost, my love of superheroes originates from the X-Men. I have watched superpowered and supernatural anime like Pokémon and Sailor Moon, and I have watched other superhero shows like Spider-Man, Batman and Superman's individual animated series. Still, nothing quite compared, in my mind, to hearing that amazing rock intro to the X-Men.
That same feeling resonated with me when I started tracking down and reading the comics. Marvel's mutant heroes, the X-Men, are truly unlike any other team out there. They are one of a kind, and deserve the proper respect that comes with that honorable distinction. So, for many members of their immense fan base, it might seem paradoxical to hold the notion that the recent promotion of the Inhumans (and simultaneous reduction of mutant/X-Men presence in comics and merchandising) could possibly work to the benefit of our beloved mutants.
Here's Why It's Beneficial
The X-Men, as many of you know, are an offshoot of humanity, presented as the next stage in human evolution. However, while the readers of the fiction are welcoming to these exciting, powerful and often dangerous super-humans, many members of the baseline human populace within that fictional world are hesitant to accept mutants in everyday life; many even treat them with outright prejudice and bigotry. In that way, many parallels have been drawn between the real-life struggle for human rights and civil rights, and the rights of mutants to coexist alongside humans.
On the other hand, the Inhumans are presented as a genetically engineered offshoot of humanity, whose evolution was tampered with by the Kree alien race to raise up an army of superhumans to help fight their various wars. The experiment was abandoned for reasons unknown, such that this new breed of people were left to fend for themselves. Many of the descendants of these original Inhumans banded together to form a secluded society, but a number of them went about life unaware that their genes had been altered, until the Inhuman king Blackagar Boltagon released a biological agent to trigger their transformation.
The two have vastly different origins, but their social situation is very similar. Each is feared and/or hated by humans, and are treated as potential threats, which the government believes they are responsible for containing.
The two societies diverge even more, in terms of the respective studios that own their cinematic distribution rights. While the Inhumans are situated rather clearly with the folks over at Marvel Studios, the X-Men are firmly set within the iron grip of 20th Century Fox. Many people believe that this situation is the cause of the mutants' most recent plight — diminished presence within the larger Marvel Universe, and even what many perceive as a lack of presence within their own titles.
Likewise, recent merchandising has seen a near-total erasure of the X-Men from not only comics and advertisements, but from shirts and accessories, posters, even from some depicting titles that originally featured X-Men characters heavily.
The Poster Went From THIS:
However, it should be said that I still maintain faith in Marvel. This new narrative push to see the threat upon the mutants coinciding with the rise of Inhumans is no fluke, and it will not come to fruition without some benefit to both parties involved.
For one thing, the mutants have not lost a hint of their fanbase. If the profits of the recent Fox X-Men movies are any indication, in terms of sales X-Men fans remain as fervent in their support as ever, trying to get their hands on mutant-related materials wherever they can find them. And many of those fans who flock to see the X-Men in theaters are aching to see a time when the mutants can cross over into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to do battle with the Avengers and the like.
In the meantime, the MCU is building up a steady storm of discontent with the growing Inhuman population, with their recent seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (and studio executives assure us that an Inhumans movie is still very much in the works). As to the larger picture of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, what do we expect to see with the arrival of these massively powerful and possibly dangerous superhumans?
Why, the same thing that happens EVERY time we humans encounter a different race of people that we don't understand: Some will have a fairly easy time adjusting to the presence of Inhumans, some will even embrace them with open arms, some will be hesitant, and a small, vocal majority will be outright livid. They will spew bile and vitriol, spread words of hatred, fear and distrust, write all manner of nasty literature and protest.
That's right: The Inhumans will help set the groundwork for the core of mutant principles of struggle for human tolerance, acceptance and equality.
Of course, there is already a potential fear in the family, if your loved one can possibly be triggered into the physically grotesque process of Terrigenesis, but what if down the line, your loved one could develop superhuman powers without even the physical warning of a cocoon? Literally, in an instance, around puberty, a certain distressed teen might begin to anticipate your thoughts before you think them, or shoot a devastating ray of energy from their eyes or turn the weather to match their emotions at a mere whim. Mutants' arrival will kick tensions into overdrive.
We have no clue at all when the cinematic rights to the X-Men will revert back to Marvel (for all we know, a deal could be in the works, even as I type this, to allow some deal like that which Marvel struck with Sony). Still, whether it happens in two years, five years, even ten or fifteen years down the line, there will be this tone of distrust and intolerance waiting for our beloved mutants when they arrive.
We may have a Black president at the time I type these words, but race relations are still very much problematic in America. And gay marriage may have passed in the United States, but by no means is the LGBT community free to live in their own skin, without some outward criticism from those who oppose them. I need not even mention the various other sociopolitical issues that plague our society.
So many social issues remain to be addressed in the real world and the Marvel movie world; there remain so many potential new villains to face, and the mutants are just the ones to do it when the time comes (even if their plight happens to promote the Inhumans to greater prominence along the way). And when a deal is struck for the mutants to finally make their return to the big screen under Marvel Studios' banner (and subsequently return to full prominence in the comics and other related merchandise), there will be a renewed hope and optimism in the future that awaits our favorite social underdogs. Mutants never give up, and never stay down.
In the meantime, I'll just be over here, watching the X-Men vs. Inhumans drama unfold, enjoying the show, but crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.
Go behind the scenes of X-Men Apocalypse and see what went into the production of the most recent X-Men blockbuster in the video below: