March 10, 2011

PLEASE make that Inhumans movie happen, Marvel!

The Illuminati (Earth 616)

For a time, one of the newest big things to hit Marvel Comics was the Illuminati. Created by comic writer Brian Bendis, this secret cadre of Earth 616 bigheads was intended to encompass most every major corner of their immediate shared universe. The Illuminati consisted of Iron Man, Professor X of the X-Men, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, Namor of the undersea kingdom of Atlantis, (then-)Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Strange, and Bla--


Wait a second, who the flying fig is Black Bolt?!

Thus went the fateful burning question, the one that kick-started my downward spiral into fervent obsession with a (reportedly) little-known team straight from the pages of classic Marvel better known as the Inhumans.

The Inhumans

I love this team with the potent gene-altering passion of a million Terrigen mists (I know that's grammatically incorrect, shaddup). However like many other comic newcomers I knew fairly little of the team itself before I dug in deeper. I learned of how Medusa was a (brainwashed) founding member of iconic Fantastic Four foes the Frightful Four, and how Crystal became an Avenger (and mother) way back when. I learned that writers were often inconsistent in their treatment of Maximus the Mad, solely sticking their guns to his established characterization as a power-hungry usurping asshole with psychic abilities. Also, there was a giant teleporting dog.

But Blackagar Boltagon himself was the cornerstone of the group's lore, and to quote Bendis on the mute hero's niche in the Illuminati:
Black Bolt represents the Inhumans, who are an important part of Marvel history and play an important part in events that have not yet come to pass. He also represents a ruler/king archetype...
And what a king he was. As was the case with many newer pro-Attilan converts, it was the highly excellent Paul Jenkins/Jae Lee miniseries that first cemented this group's awe-inspiring potential in my precious little geek heart forever. Cinematic in scale yet elegantly emotional in scope and depth, this series proves just what an underrated property the Inhumans were in the Marvel universe.

War of Kings #4, cover

After several hiccups and admittedly forgettable storylines, it took Warhammer 40,000 veteran Dan Abnett and his partner-in-crime Andy Lanning to bring the Inhumans back to the fore with the comic crossover event War of Kings. The epic space saga of two alien empires at opposing political odds, War of Kings was critically hailed as a huge step up from the other big Marvel event that directly preceded it, Secret Invasion. And as amusing as it was to speculate that our then-incumbent President was a Skrull agent in disguise, it was War of Kings that finally pulled me into the deep end of becoming a devoted comic book reader and an Inhumans fan for life.

Which brings us to the here and now, and this potentially heart-stopping announcement.

As far as comic-to-film adaptations are concerned, the Inhumans are as wacky and high-concept as you can get. I want to see how Thor and Captain America actually do in theaters first before I get my hopes up, as the very nature of the characters themselves could necessitate a lot of special effects heavy-lifting, and that's not even talking about whether they'll keep Attilan itself in the dark side of the moon or not.

If I had to hazard a guess at exactly what species of Inhumans story might be apt enough for the big screen, here are a few of my quick 'n' dirty thoughts:
  • The press release seems to place a lot of emphasis on the "sleeper cell" aspect of the Inhumans, which must mean they'll be reaching way back into their early history when they were still under the command of the Kree. This aspect of their lore doesn't get played up nearly as much as their great wide leap into extraterrestrial sovereignty these days, but in theory it might work depending on who's writing the script. Also, Ronan the Accuser has to make a mighty imposing appearance at some point.
  • As I mentioned earlier, the original Jenkins/Lee miniseries in itself would have made an excellent starting point for a straight Inhumans film adaptation. It helps that the miniseries, falling ostensibly under the Marvel Knights imprint, was intently designed to be self-contained and canonically ambiguous enough to mesh well with mainstream Marvel continuity without being slavishly bound to it. The subplot involving the younger Inhuman recruits might be ripe for some culling, though.
  • Back when there was still talk of Fox doing a third Fantastic Four movie, there was some fan speculation of the bigwigs bringing the aforementioned Namor the Submariner into that continuity at some point. Both the Jenkins/Lee miniseries and the Illuminati stories frequently bring up Namor himself being on good speaking terms with both Black Bolt and the Inhumans in general. At the time I had hoped that if the Fantastic Four movies were bringing in Namor then there was a good chance they could bring in the Inhumans as well. Ahhh, fanboys.
  • In the event that the hypothetical movie adaptation decides to lean more on the "space opera" side of the Inhumans, they might be able to manage with a loose adaptation of either the War of Kings story arc or the Realm of Kings aftermath. The only downside here is that both of these stories ended with Black Bolt "dead." However seeing as we've already seen a serviceable adaptation of the Dark Phoenix arc on the big screen and there looks to be plans of bringing Black Bolt back from the dead in a similarly messianic light in the comics anyway, this is probably going to be a foregone conclusion.
  • Son of M thereabouts can only work if we actually get House Of M represented onscreen in some form first. Silent War can stand alone only if there is an adequate story conflict to sub for Quicksilver's theft of the Terrigen crystals.
  • I really have no idea how well the Young Inhumans are going to work in a movie.

In the end, I should probably brace myself in case I get massively disappointed. At least I'll still have the comics.

Medusa is smokin' hot. (Secret Invasion: Inhumans, trade paperback cover)
Another way to introduce the Inhumans to new readers.

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