Marvel has identified it's next franchise and while it is a lesser-known property, it makes a lot of sense for the studio. The Inhumans were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, making their first appearance in 1965 in the pages of the Fantastic Four. The comic revolves around a royal family of superbeings led by Black Bolt, king of the Inhumans. After the blockbuster success of their wacky and risky film, Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel is continuing with their plan of expanding the scope of their cinematic universe. This isn't an impulsive development either, they have long planned for this next phase to include Ant-Man, Dr. Strange and The Inhumans. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige spoke about their potential last year to EW (via Slashfilm):
"Inhumans is cool, they’re really great characters. The most powerful guy is the king who doesn’t say a word and if he does — lookout. That’s awesome. And the notion of the Terrigen Mists, this notion that you go through and don’t know what you’re going to be on the other side, is incredibly compelling dramatically. In other words, all the craziness that comes with Inhumans, we’ve done in the other movies already. But this would have some of the social drama that we haven’t really done yet. [Fox’s] X-Men, obviously, has been touching on that stuff for a while."
This is the opportunity for Marvel Studios to add more social commentary and subtext to their films. The beauty of the X-Men franchise is that while it's action-packed and fun, it does carry a strong message of acceptance of others and the struggle for civil rights. It seems this notion hasn't escaped Feige, since they have begun shopping a script for The Inhumans written by Joe Robert Cole. Collider explains that once they find a director for the project, Marvel will allow him or her to rewrite the script to fit their own vision. Provided they stick to the story beats in the initial script, which presumably will have greater ramifications in future films. This same process was used in the development of Guardians of the Galaxy with Nicole Perlman and James Gunn, so it seems they may have found a new formula. Hopefully this will nip poor communication between future directors and the studio, avoiding fiascos like the pre-production for Ant-Man.
A script is being shopped around, the approach towards the material has been laid out, but who does Marvel have in mind to headline this new brand? Well we will let the actor spill the beans for himself. A few days ago, Vin Diesel (Fast & Furious) made an interesting and very purposeful post on his Facebook account:
"Vin and Marvel... you all made it happen! I get the strange feeling that Marvel thinks I'm Inhuman... Haha."
The fact that he chose a character to play such as Groot is seeming to be a trade-off. Groot was almost entirely a computer generated creation that did not involve Diesel performing motion-capture. In addition, Groot only has one phrase the entire film, albeit delievered in different tones and inflections. Interestingly enough, Black Bolt is mute by choice, since when he speaks his voice is a deadly sonic weapon. So Diesel will get the opportunity to headline his own Marvel film, while getting to be the physical action hero he is accustomed to being. Fans of the Riddick series know that Diesel is an actor capable of carrying a film without saying much as well, which should give Marvel comfort in the project with him in the lead.
However, Diesel isn't the only important reason for an Inhumans film, their genesis is crucial to the overall Marvel mythos. Remember the Celestials that were mentioned in Guardians of the Galaxy? In Marvel's mythology they were the ones who created life on Earth. The Kree experimented on primitive Earthlings and then eventually moved on to other worlds, leaving their test subjects to their own devices (very Prometheus-like). The Inhumans went on to create an advanced civilization for themselves. Some procreated with standard humans and passed on the dormant gene to their ancestors. When Maximus, the younger brother of Black Bolt, released the Terrigen Mist it activated the dormant genes in the population, causing a new sub-species of super-beings. This origin story is crucial because it seems to tie into the Marvel cinematic universe in so many ways.
The Inhumans franchise has connections to Guardians of the Galaxy, Agents of Shield and eventually to the Avengers. Since Marvel does not own the X-Men film franchise they are unable to label characters as "mutant." The presence of Inhumans blood lines laying dormant in many people's DNA, looks to be the explanation for some people being "miracles," as was described in Captain America: The Winter Solider. On the TV side, Agents of Shield introduced a Kree alien and they have even injected Kree blood into several characters, including series' leads Agent Coulson and Skye. The Inhumans will provide a reference for what is happening to their physiology or we may find that a few of your fan-favorites are already inhuman. This may also tie into the Avengers: Age of Ultron. It could provide a basic explanation for how Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch get their miraculous powers, since they are mutants in the comics, but not in the cinematic world.
Ultimately all things in the Marvel cinematic universe seem to be leading to the third Avengers film and a fight not for Earth, or even the galaxy, but a battle for the universe. With every film released, Marvel is expanding the scope of their storytelling and the reach of the worlds that they have created. It would seemingly be harder to shepard all of these different properties into an Avengers film since the scope will have gotten so large. However the interconnected nature of the Inhumans story lends itself to be a glue to bring the universe together. Diesel seems to allude to this fact in an interview last fall with IGN:
"I get the call, I go down to Marvel. A great meeting. It was even talking about something so big I can't even talk about because it's like the merging of brands in a way, which I won't get into. That was something way, way, way, way, way down the road."
In a broad sense, The Inhumans will be the connective tissue between the newly explored cosmic side of Marvel and the odd mutations popping up on Earth. Since Marvel does not own the X-Men film franchise, they are unable to label characters as "mutant." The presence of Inhumans' blood lines laying dormant in many people's DNA, looks to be the explanation for some people being "miracles," as was described in Captain America: The Winter Solider's button scene. On the TV side, Agents of Shield introduced a Kree alien and they have even injected their blood into several characters, including series leads Agent Coulson and Skye. The Inhumans will provide a reference for what is happening to their physiology or we may find that a few of your fan-favorites are already inhuman.
The news of The Inhumans getting formally on the production track signifies the look of the Marvel universe may soon change. The Guardians of the Galaxy are the studio's newest iconic characters, add in Vin Diesel as Black Bolt, and whatever charismatic star winds up playing Dr. Strange, and you have the type of star power that can fill the void of Robert Downey Jr's eventual departure. The property while largely unknown or unnoticed at this juncture, may truly be the key to the next ten years of success for Marvel films. We can't wait to bring you the latest as the story develops.
Are you excited about The Inhumans and Vin Diesel, physically, joining the MCU? Are there any particular storylines that you think should be adapted?
Sources: Point of Geeks, IGN, Collider, Slashfilm