What Could The Inhumans Mean For Agents Of SHIELD?
The Inhumans are going to play a big part in the next season of Agents of SHIELD, but just who might we expect to see turn up and what role might they play? (warning: this article will contain wild speculation and wishing).
Who are the Inhumans?
In the mid nineties Marvel was broke. Flat broke. It’s mind boggling to think how the company has gone from having to sell off its filing cabinets to stay afloat to arguably the second largest cross media company on the planet (the first being Marvel’s parent company Disney). One of the ways Marvel stayed afloat was to sell the rights to some of its biggest heroes to other companies, and whilst some have returned to the fold (Daredevil, Blade and the joint custody agreement on Spider-Man) they still don’t have the rights to one of their biggest properties; The X-Men.
So Marvel has been forced to look at its stable of characters to find a replacement for mutants. Super powered people that don’t need a convoluted origin (no spider bites necessary). How do they handle their powers? How do people react to them? Characters rich in story potential and the ability to shape the MCU in new and exciting ways.
Enter the Inhumans. They have never enjoyed a particularly long run in the comics but have continued to be a presence and increasingly prominent in the last few years.
In the comics Terrigen Mist will drive many mutants off the planet Earth, meaning that, as in the MCU, they will replace the Mutants in prominence (though unlikely in popularity) in the Marvel Universe.
In season One of Agents of SHIELD we had the registered gifted, a decidedly limp replacement term that didn’t catch on. That’s been dropped now that SHIELD's main purpose is to protect the Inhumans and put down those that are a threat to humanity.
There is still much of the Inhumans’ rich lore that is yet to be discovered and, as mentioned in my last article looking at back at season two of the show, much that can only be hinted at until the Inhumans movie appears in a couple of years. So let's take a look at some of the possible contenders to translate from page to screen in season three...
The Royal Family
Don’t expect characters like Black Bolt and Medusa (king and queen of the Inhumans) to make an appearance in Agents of SHIELD but do expect to learn more about the hierarchy of Inhuman society. Maximus the Mad is the Inhuman equivalent of Loki and likely to play a similar role when he finally appears. The Inhumans have a rigid caste system that is yet to be properly explored in the show. Whilst some members of the royal family have been temporary members of The Fantastic Four (where they made their first appearance) or even The Avengers, the Inhumans have often played a more antagonistic or anti-hero role in the comics. There’s a lot to be explored including their links to the galactic side of Marvel. (How awesome would it be to see Abigail Brand and S.W.O.R.D make an appearance?)
Lash appears in the first episode of the new season and whilst it is too early in the series for him to be the final big bad he is going to be an exciting adversary. Appearing in Charles Soule’s current Inhuman series, we can expect other characters from that series to eventually make an appearance too.
A member of the Inhuman royal family, the Karnak of the comics is about to get a new more grounded costume thanks to writer/artist team Warren Ellis and Gerardo Zaffino. Marvel's editorial have brought characters to greater prominence of late in conjecture with their appearance in the MCU, so expect this more grounded interpretation to appear later in the series, especially if they hope to establish the royal family. Ellis describes the character as a "dementedly intense philosopher who can see the flaw in anything — objects, systems, ideas, people — and strike that flaw in order to destroy it." That would make him a considerable threat to Coulson and his team.
This likely isn’t going to happen, but Kamala Khan is one of the most popular new characters to appear in recent years. She’s an Inhuman teen learning to cope with great powers and she would fit in well with the series core cast. There are currently no plans to give her a movie so to see her appear on the small screen would be just as fun. SHIELD has slowly been adding superheroes to its roster so lets file this one under “please, please, please”.
And what of the impending civil war?
The idea of registering Inhumans was brought up in the last season and superhero registration will be key to the forthcoming Captain America: Civil War. With Coulson’s team looking to protect the Inhumans it will be interesting to see how the team dynamic is affected by those that agree with registration and those that are opposed to it. The Inhumans will hopefully give the show the focus that Season 2 lacked.
The characters in Agents of SHIELD have now become characters in the Marvel 616 Universe. Next week we’ll look at how their comic book counterparts measure against the TV versions...