These are two recent shows that have premiered for this year’s TV viewing. Both are products of Marvel comics, the Gifted taking place in the X-Men universe, and the Inhumans in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe).
The Inhumans is a TV show produced by Marvel Studios. The same ones that made some of the most popular (and lucrative) movies in history. Starting with Iron Man, and currently coming to the end of Phase 3 as of this writing, with Thor: Ragnarok coming into theaters soon. It’s been an impressive string of victory after victory, with a few slip-ups along the way.
When first announced, The Inhumans were going to be a movie, set in the greater MCU. It was a surprise, then, when Agents of SHIELD got their own Inhuman, in the form of Daisy Jones aka Quake. Played by Chloe Bennett, she’s had quite a few, if not a majority, of the plots centered around her, especially in the early years. They even had their own Inhuman plotline, and “Sanctuary”. Never a mention of the Royal Family, or the Inhumans in the lunar city of Attilan.
Some of us were wondering, whether or not there was still going to be a movie. Marvel then announced it would be a TV series, and tied into the Agents of SHIELD. Not just a TV series, but they were going to release the first two episodes in IMAX, and tried to give it great fanfare. It didn’t work out so well.
Once it premiered on ABC, it was met with heavy criticism. From bad costuming (Medusa’s wig), to bad sets and poor scripts, the show was heavily flawed. After watching the first few episodes, I could see where the criticism came from. There were some serious issues.
Even now, I struggle to remember the plot lines, and the characters. Gorgon, the guy with the hooves, teamed up with some local Hawaiians, and I don’t even know their names, let alone care that one of them died while fighting his battle.
The actor they got for Black Bolt might be a great actor. He might be the victim of bad casting, or bad direction. But when your character is SILENT, and speaks through sign language. This is a King, groomed from early on to be a ruler, he should have a presence. It should radiate from him, in his bearing, from his very core. And the actor just doesn’t pull it off. Perhaps they want him stoic, and masking any emotions, due to the rigors of being King, it’s not explained. But a silent character on TV, that is expressionless, is boring. He cannot emote, using just his eyes. He just stares at people. it’s frustrating.
The plots are weak, and the characterizations are paper thin. This project never had a chance.
On the other side of the coin is The Gifted. This is set in the X-men universe, which means it is produced by Fox. A lot of people get confused, as they see the Marvel logo, and feel that they should have a say. Fox bought the rights years ago for the X-men, and the Fantastic Four, at the same time Marvel sold the rights to Spider-Man to Sony. Marvel has no say in any of those projects, and only due to the Sony e-mail hacks were they forced to let Marvel/Disney use Spider-Man for one of their films, some cameos, etc. Fox owns the X-men, and all associated characters, and Marvel can only watch as they produce movies and TV shows with their characters.
A year or so back, Fox produced a TV show called Legion. This was based-off the X-men universe, as Legion is the son of Charles Xavier, but it was on FX, and received little fanfare. Fox took the success of Legion, and decided to produce a new TV series for their main station. The fact that it airs directly after a DC show is irony not lost on me!
The Gifted is set in the X-men universe, but the X-men and the Brotherhood of Mutants are gone, or dead. So, that establishes they are on their own,but that allows them to bring in any mutant they have on their licensed roster.
This is a TV show that was never trying to be something it’s not. The producers knew, going in, it wasn’t supposed to be anything other than a gritty, street-level setting, not unlike the Marvel Netflix shows. They chose characters with connections outside the show. For reasons of spoilers I won’t go into details, but at least one character is directly linked to a major name in the mutant movies. It hasn’t been revealed, but anyone who knows the characters comic book history, knows the connection they’ve hinted at.
The characters on The Gifted are interesting. There is the central family (named Strucker, probably with no co-incidence), around who most of the drama surrounds. The oldest daughter was a mutant for a while, and then the teenage son has his powers manifest, sending them into hiding from the US government. People hate mutants, and the social commentary about hatred and intolerance on clearly on display.
Beyond the central family, there is the Mutant Underground, helping mutants survive against heavy oppression. They hide out in an abandoned building, help mutant families escape to Mexico, which is more mutant friendly. The interaction between the Mutant Underground and the Strucker family also provides a lot of drama.
The Gifted uses common place sets, and the actions scenes are done without trying to be impressive or overbearing. The special effects are sparing, but well done, and well produced.
When comparing the Gifted to the Inhumans, it is obvious that the Inhumans never had a chance. The projected started off as a movie, with a huge budget, and ended up a fill-in TV show. The cast isn’t terrible, but the sets, lack of special effects budget, and the poor script really killed this show before it ever got off the ground.
The Gifted is a fun, dramatic show about mutants and their struggle against oppression. The characters act realistically, and believably. The natural drama between a family struggling from high-middle class to fugitives, mixing with established fugitives who are helping their fellow mutants is a striking contrast to the ‘every day lives’ they used to live. The actions and decisions characters make seem to actually be driven by believable emotions.
The Inhumans is a show about a Royal Family deposed from the throne. The King and Queen are simply unrelateable , and suffer from flat, cardboard characterizations. Karnak, the strategist with a broken superpower, has a romance plot line, which is both confusing, and uninteresting. Crystal, the Princess and sister to the Queen, also has a flirty romance plot line going on, which is even less interesting, or believable. The entire production suffers from the lack of funds, due to production shifting from a movie to TV, and it’s painfully obvious.
I Hope the Gifted gets a renewal. It’s truly interesting so far, and I like what they’ve done with the characters I already know and recognize from their comic counterparts.
The Inhumans is destined for the trash heap of history, remembered only for what might have been.