Update: During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Anson Mount revealed that Black Bolt will be communicating through sign-language in the show. But it will not be from Earth. Understandably, Black Bolt will have his own form of communication:
“I actually have to do more preparation when it comes to scenes in which I sign, and I can’t use American Sign Language. Because he’s not from Earth, he wouldn’t know American Sign Language, so I’m making my own sign system.”
Marvel's Inhumans will show us a whole new, uncharted corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This time around, we'll be introduced to a brand new crime-fighting group: the Inhuman Royal Family. Leading that pack is our stoic protagonist, Black Bolt, portrayed by Hell On Wheels' Anson Mount.
Black Bolt is unlike any superhero out there: he doesn't speak — to put it lightly, he could give Hulk the biggest headache of his life (yes, an even bigger one that Mjölnir) by simply whispering one word into his ear.
To get us attached to the character, the comics get around that issue by giving us thought balloons, in which Blackagar chronicles his feelings and thoughts. It's a clever way to let comic book readers in on the guy, but with Inhumans coming to live-action, a lot of us are wondering...
How Will 'Inhumans' Deal With Black Bolt's Silence?
Entertainment Weekly recently gave us our first taste of the Inhumans TV show with an incredible picture of the Royal Family assembled. Complementing that, the website also released an in-depth interview with the showrunner, Scott Buck.
Buck was asked how exactly Black Bolt's stoic nature would be translated into live-action. The showrunner began his answer by revealing the toughness of brining Black Bolt to life:
"Black Bolt is a very difficult character. [...] It’s a little bit difficult to write him, because Black Bolt does not speak, but yet he is our hero and he is the center of the show, so it does certainly present challenges in how you tell his story, but fortunately we came up with a really good story."
Buck went on to state that fans would be very pleased with the approach Marvel took for the character. He also revealed the show would not be using voiceover as a way to adapt the comics' thought bubbles:
"Anson [Mount] is terrific. I think everyone’s going to be very pleased and excited by his Black Bolt. We’re not doing voice over. If you read the comics, you see Black Bolt does find a way to communicate to people, but he’s also a very enigmatic character as well, and he keeps a lot inside. That’s part of what’s so fascinating about him is that a lot of times, we don’t know what he’s thinking."
As for the new way in which he communicates, Buck may be referring to how Black Bolt has a telepathic connection with his wife, Medusa, so she can tell others what he's thinking. Buck may be hinting at the show taking that direction. In the comics, that unspoken communication and understanding between the two really highlights their relationship and makes it much more special. That would make for a great character dynamic in the series.
Now, that revelation poses an interesting question for the Inhuman Royal Family's first live-action outing...
Is This A Good Way To Go?
Will it work to have a main character be completely silent, even to the audience? The answer is, it depends on how it's handled. The writers and directors need to find a balance between Black Bolt's seriousness and his own ability to convey his emotions.
The latter aspects falls entirely on Anson Mount. Ultimately, the successful translation of the character's feelings rely on the actor's ability to control his body language. Fortunately, that doesn't look like a problem right now. When Mount's casting was announced, Marvel Television head Jeph Loeb told Deadline Hollywood:
“Anson loves the challenge of playing a character who will only communicate silently. His enthusiasm mixed with his imposing, almost regal persona made it easy to see why he is our Black Bolt.”
With that said, audiences not familiar with the characters may have a hard time understanding what Black Bolt's deal is. And a failure to give us a real, breathing, compelling character that shines through his lack of dialogue could result in audiences not connecting with him. Considering Black Bolt is the show's main character, such a disconnect would not be the best thing to happen.
Fortunately, there are very talented people behind and in front of the cameras. Anson Mount is a fantastic actor, and I have no doubt in his ability to beat the challenge of giving us a compelling, fleshed-out character without having to say a word (you know, when he's not fighting Attilan invaders or violent aliens on the moon).
The first two episodes of Inhumans will see a theatrical release on September 1, 2017, followed by the remaining six episodes moving to the small screen on ABC.
Are you happy with how Inhumans will be depicting Black Bolt's silence? Let me know in the comments!