ByTom Bacon, writer at
I'm a film-and-TV fan who grew up with a deep love of superhero comics! Follow me on Twitter @TomABacon or on Facebook @tombaconsuperheroes!
Tom Bacon

Last week finally saw begin the marketing push for their Inhumans TV show following the announcement that the first two episodes are due to air at IMAX cinemas in September this year. We saw a poster, a CGI-less photo of the cast, an interview with showrunner Scott Buck that didn't really give much away, and a short teaser video that may have actually revealed the whole plot.

But as excited as some fans may be, the reality is that Inhumans is Marvel's riskiest TV show yet. Here's why...

1. The Stakes Have Never Been Higher

The reality is that Marvel are clearly aiming to position Inhumans to be a flagship show. After all, the studio have launched an unprecedented partnership with IMAX, allowing them to stream the first two episodes of the show first at IMAX cinemas worldwide. What's more, Marvel and ABC have set up shop on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, transforming a 3,700-acre former Navy facility into a production base. The plan is to clearly stick around for a second season or more, with reports that Marvel hope to pump between $80 million and $100 million annually into the local economy.

Let me give you a sense of perspective; Marvel's five Defenders shows — Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Defenders — were originally given a budget of $200 million to be spent over a three-year-period. I'm sure those figures changed when Marvel commissioned Daredevil Season 2, but the contrast is still staggering. In part, the difference is because Marvel has forged more partnerships for Inhumans — the show is part-funded by IMAX, after all, and will take full advantage of innovative IMAX cameras.

But all this means that Marvel has thrown everything they can into making Inhumans a success. You're talking partnerships that have never been seen before, and an injection of cash that's unprecedented for Marvel TV. This series simply has to be a success, but, unfortunately, Inhumans has quite a few things working against it.

2. Interest Isn't There

Although Marvel may have kicked off their marketing for Inhumans, interest in the show remains quite muted. A quick comparison of Inhumans and Defenders on Google Trends easily illustrates this point;

Inhumans/Defenders [Credit: Google Trends]
Inhumans/Defenders [Credit: Google Trends]

In this chart, 100 represents the peak interest that Google has seen for the shows in question. As you can see, interest in Inhumans is far, far lower than in Defenders. Now, in a sense, that's not surprising; the comparison isn't especially fair, given that Marvel's Netflix range has been building up to the Defenders series since 2015. Still, the fact that Inhumans didn't score above 40 even after the marketing finally kicked off doesn't bode well.

3. The Brand Hasn't Always Resonated With Fans

Part of the problem is that the Inhumans brand hasn't always resonated with fans either. Until recent years, the Inhumans were generally seen as supporting characters; they've drifted in and out of publication since their creation back in 1965, and ongoing series have rarely been among Marvel's best-sellers. The core concept — an isolationist royal family of superhumans — has always seemed like something of an uncomfortable fit with the wider Marvel Universe. That's probably why Marvel Studios passed on the movie.

However, the last few years have seen Marvel Comics really push the idea of the Inhumans, releasing Terrigen across the world and triggering a whole new breed of Inhumans known as the 'NuHumans'. These NuHumans were a smart way of making the concept accessible, but their most successful characters — most notably Kamala Khan's Ms. Marvel — have always worked best when distanced from the core brand.

Meanwhile, that push in itself has actually been remarkably controversial. Fans of the X-Men believed that Marvel were pushing the Inhumans at the expense of their favorite mutants. A long story arc last year essentially saw Marvel troll the fans by pitting the X-Men and the Inhumans against one another; it's not really worked well from a sales point of view, and has left many X-Men fans rather bitter.

4. The Showrunner — Scott Buck — Is A Gamble

Showrunner Scott Buck has form when it comes to Marvel TV shows - and that's not necessarily a good thing. He chose to keep Iron Fist as comic-book-accurate as possible, and unwittingly blundered into a controversy over whether the original comics were an example of cultural appropriation. There are signs of similar mistakes with Inhumans; for example, set photos have teased the inclusion of the Alpha Primitives, a primitive slave race maintained by the Inhumans of Attilan.

Iron Fist raises other problems, though; the show was heavily criticized for its handling of action scenes and a failure to understand Buddhist philosophy. Given that Inhumans includes one philosophical hand-to-hand combatant, Karnak, that's something of a bad sign.

5. First Reactions Haven't Been Positive

A controversial image. [Credit: ABC, via Entertainment Weekly]
A controversial image. [Credit: ABC, via Entertainment Weekly]

The marketing campaign has just begun and it's already hit a snag. When Entertainment Weekly published a photo of the cast in costume, fan reactions were uniformly negative. The most common criticism was that the characters looked like bad cosplay, and fans were particularly angry at the poor wig standing in for Medusa's signature hair. Given that this was pretty much the beginning of Marvel's marketing push for Inhumans, things really didn't get off to a positive start.

Now, there's plenty of time for that to change. After all, that first photograph was CGI-lite (we didn't even see Karnak or Lockjaw), so it's clearly a poor representation of the show. Marvel need to work hard, and quickly, to get a more positive message out.

All in all, I have to confess that I have real concerns for Marvel's Inhumans. This is easily the riskiest show Marvel Television has attempted to date; a big-budget series involving multiple partners, launching in a way no other TV show has ever done before. That said, I hope to be proven wrong. Whether Inhumans will be a remarkable success or not, only time will tell, as it always does.


Do you think Marvel's 'Inhumans' will be a success?

(Source: Digital Trends)


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