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Marvel’s new TV epic gets theater release

BY VERONICA GRAY

Marvel’s Inhumans is the newest addition to Marvel Studios primetime TV series on ABC, but for the first time they’ve decided to do something different. Marvel and ABC filmed the first two episodes with IMAX cameras and released them in movie theaters as a special preview of the show.

This twist was revealed over the summer, but was not widely advertised to the public. In fact, if I hadn’t been an avid YouTube watcher, I would have missed the event entirely. I’ve seen the Black Panther trailer hundreds of places, but Inhumans hasn’t seen much publicity since being teased as a TV series during Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D season four finale. This lack of publicity might explain why I walked into a practically empty IMAX theater. Well, and the trailer did not exactly spark excitement in anyone but the loyal fans of the Marvel franchise. Personally, I wasn’t sure how Marvel was going to do this. Release Inhumans in IMAX theaters then on TV?

The plot to the Inhumans series follows the lives of the Inhumans, a race of superhumans, living in Attilan, a city hidden on Earth’s moon. The main focus is on King Black Bolt, his wife Queen Medusa, trusted allies Gorgan, Karnak and Medusa’s sister, Crystal, as they are faced with a coup by Black Bolt’s brother Maximus. In attempt to protect her family, Crystal has her super-powered dog transport everyone in danger to Earth, more specifically the islands of Hawaii, before she herself is caught. The series journeys through these characters getting home and fighting back against Maximus.

The show has some potential. While there were some cheesy lines to open the series and an unnecessary five- minute recap during a jungle chase, the rest of the show gave a foundation that viewers could follow. That is, if they can connect with the characters.

I was intrigued by Black Bolt (played by Anson Mount, Hell on Wheels), who throughout the episodes never said a word due to his power, which is revealed later in

the episode. Instead, Medusa (played by actress Serinda Swan, Graceland) is his voice, translating a version of sign language that the actors based off of ASL. Mount used facial expressions and body language to carry himself as King of the Inhumans and convey emotions, especially when he was robbed of the one person who could communicate for him. It was fun to watch and I could easily feel the confidence of the king by watching Mount’s performance.

The villain of the show, Maximus, played by Iwan Rheon, immediately calls to mind another Thor versus Loki plotline. To bring in the Loki comparison is a bit much, as Maximus isn’t as scorned by the people his family rules. Maximus may not have any powers like his brother, but he has his own voice. He has a silver tongue which speaks to the people with a level of comfort they wanted to hear. He speaks against the caste system of Attilan to those who have been hurt most by it, but we don’t really see much of this system. We see the rough side of the kingdom, the mines and poor citizens, but we do not see the comparison. Maximus has his own reasons for being the villain, but they are not explained very well. Is it because he’s treated a little differently from the rest of the Inhumans because he is without powers? Is it fear that humans from Earth really will destroy them? Pride? It’s just not clear, and that could weaken the strength of his role as the series villain. However, this could be resolved during the actual series.

The TV show premiers on ABC Sept. 29 starting with the episodes they showed in theaters, which gives the IMAX experience a two week run, enough time to draw in some viewers, but in my experience it isn’t worth the $15. Seeing the Marvel show in theaters was fun, but unnecessary. In the production, they used the IMAX cameras sparingly for a few cool shots that were there at the opening and gone for a majority of the film. The idea to put the first two episodes in theaters was not Marvel’s best move. In translating these episodes to TV in a few weeks, it will be interesting to see if ABC can keep up the budget they put into these IMAX episodes for the rest of the series. Considering what’s happened to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. recently, I don’t have high hopes for the budget to remain this high, especially with the mixed reviews that the show has already received.

 

Things could have been done differently than shoving the audience into the middle of the unknown. Using characters to usher us into an unknown world would have given a better foundation. Showing these episodes in IMAX as a way to draw people in might have worked for the money game, but not for boosting the series. Here’s hoping that Marvel’s Inhumans can gain better footing once the show airs on ABC in a few weeks.

Veronica Gray can be reached at veronica.gray@spartans.ut.edu

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