The Inhumans Teaser Trailer Promises ‘X-Men’ by Way of ‘Game of Thrones’

Although Netflix might be getting all the attention these days, Marvel’s small screen ambitions are both larger and more connected with its cinematic universe than most people realize.  Agents of SHIELD is a more direct sequel to The Avengers than its actual cinematic follow-up, Iron Man 3.  While Daredevil and Jessica Jones merely namedrop characters from the films, Agent Carter stars one of them.  And when Marvel needs an answer to the X-Menwhose film rights are actually owned by Fox — they turn to the Inhumans.

Originally planned as a feature film, Marvel’s increasingly tight release schedule lead to it getting unceremoniously dropped from it.  But, mercifully, that was not the end for the franchise.  It has resurfaced as a TV series, to debut on ABC in September, and we’ve just gotten our first brief look at it.

The Inhumans are functionally the same as the X-Men.  Due to their abnormal genetics, these seemingly normal Humans develop a variety of superhuman powers, each more fantastic than the last.  The primary cast of the series is set to feature powers as diverse as super-strength, invulnerability, flight, pyrokinesis and teleportation.

That is, however, where the similarities end.  The Inhumans gain their abilities not from puberty, but from being exposed to a substance known as Terrigen Mist: a gas that activates dormant genes in their genetic code.  An Inhuman not exposed to this mist would be no more powerful than the average person on the street, while a Mutant exposed to it would contract M-Pox: essentially Mutant Cancer.

Whereas the X-Men seek to defend a world that hates and fears them, the Inhumans exist as an underground society completely removed from the greater concerns of the world at large.  They are ruled over by a royal family headed by their king, Black Bolt, whose supersonic whispers can level mountains.

While the X-Men fight the likes of Magneto, the Hellfire Club and the Sentinels, the Inhumans’ struggles are largely internal.  Their iconic villain is Maximus the Mad, King Black Bolt’s deranged brother.  Essentially Professor Xavier crossed with the Joker, he is both a mad genius and an adept mind-controller who is especially fond of using his powers to command an army of subhuman savages known as the Alpha Primatives.

The thirty-second trailer hints at this being the key conflict of the series at large.  In it, Maximus, unsatisfied with living apart from the greater world, complains about the Inhumans remaining “as silent as” Black Bolt.  When an unseen woman — presumably the Inhuman queen, Medusa — warns him that he is “talking about treason,” he corrects her: he is “talking about is freedom: freedom for all Inhumans.”

While that’s not much to go off of, it does live up to the showrunners’ longstanding promises of a series that is equal parts X-Men and Game of Thrones: an intriguing political drama whose primary cast just so happen to have superpowers.  It has the potential to set up some of Marvel’s best heroes for the big screen — like Ms. Marvel — and tie into their cinematic universe more directly than anything else that has come before it.

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