How Will ABC's Inhumans Tie Into the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Make no mistake: Marvel has major plans for the Inhumans. Originally announced as a film slated for a 2020 release, "Inhumans" -- much like its comic book counterpart -- has undergone quite a few changes in the intervening years, not the least of which is a transition from the big screen to the small screen. Yes, Virginia, there will be a live-action Inhumans adaptation, but it will unfold on ABC rather than in a multiplex. (Well, sort of. The first two hours will debut in IMAX theaters before the remainder of the first season heads to television.)

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Of course, the Inhumans as a race are no strangers to Marvel Television. In Season 2 of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.", Daisy "Quake" Johnson was revealed to be Inhuman through her mother's side of the family. Since then, S.H.I.E.L.D. has battled rogue Inhuman factions in Afterlife and an ancient Inhuman called Hive, as well as prejudice from your average, everyday human being. However, since Afterlife's demise, the Inhuman race has not seemed like an organized collective, never mind the denizens of an ancient monarchy -- but that's exactly what Marvel Television's new "Inhumans" television series promises to be about.

According to the show's official announcement, "Inhumans" "will explore the never-before-told epic adventure of Black Bolt and the royal family." That passage alone raises a lot of questions about the new Marvel series. "It's all connected," as Marvel Television president Jeph Loeb likes to say, meaning "Inhumans" will be tied to the larger web of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it remains to be seen just how something as grandiose as the Inhuman royal family will fit into that puzzle.

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First, and foremost, will "Inhumans" spin out of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," or act independent of its sister series? "AoS" has dealt with Inhumans, sure, but the MCU spans the entire universe thanks to a little film called "Guardians of the Galaxy." As such, "Inhumans" doesn't necessarily need to tie itself to "AoS," despite the show's precedence for dealing with Inhuman affairs. That doesn't mean a crossover of any sort is completely off the table down the line, assuming "Agents" gets renewed for a fifth season. However, when "Inhumans" gets its start, it could go for a completely clean break if it's set in space.

But is it feasible for "Inhumans" to be an off-planet show? It wouldn't be uncharacteristic for the Inhuman royal family, who took up residence on the blue area of the Moon for quite some time in the comics and later journeyed through space for a bit after the Kree enslaved them. It wouldn't be a stretch for the MCU, either; all you have to do is look at Hive's origin. When Coulson and Fitz encountered Hive for the first time, it was on Maveth, the planet where Simmons was stranded. Hive described how the planet once thrived and an ancient civilization ruled there. Once it became clearer that Hive was an Inhuman, it wasn't difficult to put two-and-two together. His origin, then, suggests that a powerful Inhuman civilization once reigned far from Earth, but he destroyed it (or so he said). That in mind, it's entirely possible a faction of Inhuman survivors took off into space to look for refuge -- including what would become the Inhuman royal family.

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Less feasible, however, is extensive space travel on a television show budget. If "Inhumans" does choose to be a space opera of sorts, it'll likely take place on Attilan -- as in, the Inhumans' central hub. Fortunately for Marvel Television, Attilan is capable of independent travel; the city has bounced from the Himalayas to the moon to space to New York City in the comics. Attilan could literally be anywhere in the "Inhumans" television show, though it likely won't be located in or near the Himalayas, as that's where Afterlife was based. Since the possibilities are so limitless, it's hard to even posit where the show will be set.

Then there's the question of character: just who will take the lead in the show? The fact that it follows the Inhuman royal family narrows that question down a bit, as that includes Black Bolt, Medusa, Crystal, Karnak, Gorgon, Triton, Maximus and -- yes -- Lockjaw, the teleporting dog.

While it's pretty safe to rule Lockjaw out as our point of view character, that leaves a solid ensemble cast; only one of them, though, will likely be the character which the audience is expected to relate to the most. As Black Bolt cannot speak without obliterating everything in his path, he isn't a likely candidate; neither is his brother Maximus, who is called "Maximus the Mad" for a reason. That leaves Medusa, Crystal, Karnak, Gorgon and Triton. Crystal seems like the strongest candidate, as she's the youngest, and often depicted as the most rebellious. She has fewer ties to the throne, and is the most likely to venture outside of Attilan, where Karnak, Gorgon and Triton are generally more straight-laced and usually hold fast to tradition. However, it's too early to tell what direction the show plans to take with the characters.

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And then, the inevitable question: will the Inhumans be the ones to make the jump from television to film? So far, MCU characters have transitioned from film to television, but never the other way around. Could the Inhumans get the honor of debuting on television before appearing in a Marvel Studios film? "Inhumans" was originally planned to be a film; as such, is it entirely out of the question to see them in a huge ensemble movie like "Avengers: Infinity War?" If that's the case, could "Inhumans" follow in the footsteps of a show like "Westworld" and net a big name actor to land the lead? (Come on, guys, Vin Diesel is practically begging to be Black Bolt!) Since there seems to be such a big divide between Marvel Studios and Marvel Television, it's hard to tell how involved the Inhumans will be in future MCU ventures, but with this series, the ties may become stronger than ever.

The idea of an "Inhumans" television show raises a lot of questions, and Marvel Television doesn't seem terribly interested in answering them -- yet -- most likely because they don't have any answers at this point. Nevertheless, there's a plethora of directions Marvel could take the idea, as the Inhumans have a rich history that spans over 50 years. What's more, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." has laid a solid groundwork for the human-Kree hybrids, even if "Inhumans" isn't necessarily beholden to what has been established on its sister show. For "Inhumans," the sky is the limit -- literally.

Marvel's "Inhumans" arrives in IMAX in September 2017. The series will continue on ABC that fall.

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