When actors Ken Leung and Eme Ikwuakor signed on for Marvel’s Inhumans, they didn’t realize they were in for such a superhuman family drama. On the surface, it’s a television series about characters with superpowers, but Ikwuakor and Leung assured journalists at Comic-Con International in San Diego that Inhumans is a very different kind of superhero show.
Leung and Ikwuakor play Karnak and Gorgon, members of the Royal Family of the Inhumans, a super-powered race that has lived hidden from humanity on the Moon. When the Royal Family is splintered by a military coup, they find their allegiances tested as the truth about the Inhumans and their ancestral home Attilan comes to light.
Lost alum Leung said Inhumans isn’t a direct adaptation of any Marvel Comics storyline. “From the get-go it was made clear that despite its lineage in the comics, we are trying to create our own thing here,” he said. “Our basic powers are the same — Karnak’s ability is to see the flaw in everything — to me that’s the same.” Ikwuakor echoed that sentiment, and added that the series is “loosely based on the comics.”
With that in mind, both actors promised that comics fans and casual viewers alike can enjoy the series. “Huge Marvel fans versus those who have never heard of us before, we’re able to tie in both,” Ikwuakor said. “You can know nothing about the comics but you can still have a reaction to what you see in front of you.” Leung added, “We’re treating it in a way like no other show has ever been treated before. The way we’re premiering it, the two episodes with IMAX, I think that is really an attempt to respect people who already love these characters. So I hope fans enjoy that.”
The two-episode IMAX premiere will be a first for both IMAX and Marvel Television. While IMAX has aired episodes of television shows before — Doctor Who and Sherlock, for instance — this will be the first time a series has premiered on IMAX screens. According to Ikwuakor, the scale of IMAX lends itself to showing the epic quality of these characters and their powers. “There’s a lot of different elements — there are so many things that people could take away from this,” he said. “First of all it’s epic. When you see Lockjaw, when you see [Medusa’s] hair moving, all these different things. … Then there’s the element which no one knows about, which to me is super-powerful.”
When asked about that element, Ikwuakor was a bit protective: “I would not want to rob the audience of that, especially because we are doing something different,” he replied. “I really believe we are doing something different to what you’ve seen in regards to a superhero show. We are a family that has superpowers, more than we are superheroes. There’s a lot of humanity in it. You’re dealing with family.”
Those family elements have been very present in the trailers for the show, especially in regards to the rivalry between brothers Maximus (played by Game of Thrones alum Iwan Rheon) and Black Bolt (Anson Mount of Hell on Wheels). When asked whether Karnak and Gorgon’s loyalties will possibly shift during the series, both actors laughed nervously. “Maybe,” and “ditto,” was all the pair could say.
Following the MAX premiere, ABC will air all eight episodes. The actors were asked whether they preferred that kind of limited-run storytelling, as opposed to the traditional 22-episode format. “Marvel is super-secretive — I didn’t know where the story was going,” Ikwuakor said. “Every episode was something new and fresh. I can say that in the eight episodes there is a journey, there is an arc that we go on as individuals and as a family.”
Leung added, “The other thing about only having eight episodes is that every episode is potent. A lot happens. To be in a thing where every scene has ramifications that are huge is exciting.”
Lastly, Leung was asked whether he preferred to be an Inhuman like Karnak or a mutant like his character Kid Omega in X-Men: The Last Stand. “Inhuman! My power as a mutant was ridiculous,” he replied. “If I had a headache I would impale my own hand if I went to touch my head. It was a dumb superpower. This one I have a really cool superpower, so hands down, Inhuman.”
The first two episode of Inhumans will premiere Sept. 1 in IMAX theaters, followed by their broadcast debut Friday, Sept. 29, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. The drama stars Anson Mount as Black Bolt, Iwan Rheon as Maximus the Mad, Serinda Swan as Queen Medusa, Ken Leung as Karnak, Isabelle Cornish as Crystal, Eme Ikwuakor as Gorgon, Mike Moh as Triton and Sonya Balmores as Auran.
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