When #Marvel announced their Phase 3 slate, fans were more than a little excited; it included unexpected delights such as Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, and Avengers: Infinity War. One of the more surprising titles, though, was #Inhumans — which dropped off the Marvel radar pretty quickly. In an exciting twist, the film seems dead in the water but is instead being replaced by a live-action TV series. What happened?
The First Announcement
Marvel's initial Phase 3 announcements looked very different to the ones we have now — for one thing, the company didn't have the rights to use Spider-Man at that point! Inhumans was originally scheduled for November 2nd, 2018, and, in a surprising twist, Marvel Entertainment soon began developing the property.
The Inhumans became a key part of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with Chloe Bennet's Skye revealed to be Daisy Johnson, the comic book superhero known as 'Quake'. The character was exposed to the Terrigen Mist, and soon S.H.I.E.L.D. was taking on some pretty wild Inhuman threats. Many fans saw this as inevitable buildup to 2018's Inhumans film, but I confess that — even at this stage — I was puzzled. Using a network TV series to build up to a feature film three years before the movie's scheduled release is a very unusual strategy, not least because we still have no idea whether or not ABC will continue producing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. by 2018. It all rather seemed to undermine the idea that Marvel had a long-term strategy for Inhumans.
By mid-2015, Marvel had made a deal with Sony to add Spider-Man into the MCU. This meant that next year's Spider-Man: Homecoming was swiftly slotted into Marvel's plans, resulting in other dates shuffling around a bit. Inhumans moved to July 2nd, 2019.
Problems at the House of Ideas
Last year, creative conflict at Marvel led to a major reorganization. Marvel Studios was separated out from the rest of the Marvel group, with #KevinFeige no longer reporting to Ike Perlmutter. This is a pretty important detail, because comic book fans have long believed Perlmutter to be particularly fond of the Inhumans (a lot of X-Men fans believe he plays their mutant favorites against the Inhumans, and Marvel is currently trolling that group of fans a little with the Death of X comic).
Within a few months, Kevin Feige was telling Collider that Inhumans would likely be subject to further delays. Feige prioritized Spider-Man: Homecoming and the Ant-Man sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp.
"Since we made our initial phase three announcement, we added Spider-Man, which was a big joyous coup for us. We added Ant-Man and the Wasp, which was a big fun continuation of that story for us. Walt Disney Company has announced an Indiana Jones film for right around that same time. So I think it will shuffle off the current date that it’s on right now. How far down it shuffles, I’m not sure yet."
When questioned further, all Feige added was that it's not a question of 'if'; "it's a question of when".
By April 2016, Inhumans had dropped off the Phase 3 slate, with no set release date. For Inhumans fans, it clearly seemed that Kevin Feige didn't care about the project.
The Shift to TV
Fans became increasingly convinced that the Inhumans movie had been dropped, and that instead interest the property was being worked on by Marvel Entertainment over in the TV shows.
At SDCC 2016, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Executive Producer Jed Whedon told us that the show now had "a little more freedom" when it came to Inhuman stories. In fact, during the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. panel, the creative team actually made the very specific comment that they were now able to use some "classic" Inhumans. This seemed ground-breaking, because until now we'd assumed that the "classic" characters were reserved for the movies.
We first got a hint that there was more to this a few weeks back, though, when Slashfilm spoke to Kevin Feige and got an update. Here's what he said:
"I think Inhumans will happen for sure. I don’t know when. I think it’s happening on television. And I think as we get into Phase 4 as I’ve always said, it could happen as a movie. I think it would be super cool."
At the time, most readers assumed that Feige's comment about the Inhumans "happening on television" was a reference to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Finally, much to fan surprise, Marvel announced that the Inhumans would star in their own TV series, launching in September 2017. We can assume that the "classic" Inhumans will play a major role.
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Fans of the Inhumans rejoice — although Marvel Studios has stepped away from Inhumans, the property is now sitting with Marvel Entertainment. It's too soon to know what this will mean for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which features a number of Inhuman characters (most notably Chloe Bennet's Daisy Johnson). Still, with "classic" characters now on the cards, we look to be in for a wild ride!
Are you excited for Marvel's Inhumans?
Poll Image: Marvel Comics