Coinciding with co-creator Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday, Marvel Television unveiled the world premiere of their upcoming ABC series Inhumans at the Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles Monday night, where the cast and crew of the series spoke with press outlets on the red carpet.
“I think what particularly drew me to this project was that it’s a show about a family in crisis together,” said Inhumans showrunner Scott Buck. “And despite them having superpowers, the superpowers doesn’t help them with their problems - in some cases, it can actually be a hindrance. So they have to deal with these problems the same way that anybody else would.”
Anson Mount, who plays the series’ lead Black Bolt, said he was a longtime Marvel fan from when he was growing up, and read “everything I could get my hands on” to prepare for the role.
“[Black Bolt is] a very smartly drawn character for a number of reasons. He’s a leader who understands the power of his own voice, and I think that makes him immediately endearing to us,” Mount said. “But the flaw at the beginning of Black Bolt’s journey is that he’s mistaking emotional reticence with being a leader, and you can’t be emotionally removed and be a leader, because as a king, your identity is the state.”
Mount also showed press photographs of the sign language he created for the role with the help of an ASL consultant, explaining that his scripts for Black Bolt contain dialogued translations.
Meanwhile, Serinda Swan, who plays the Inhuman queen Medusa, explained why she found the character’s prehensile red hair to be so fascinating.
“She has a strength that comes out of her femininity - whereas a lot of other superpowers can be masculine or feminine, hers is her femininity, it is her long hair… It’s got its own personality, almost,” she said.
Additionally, Swan discussed Medusa’s character’s transition from villain to royal consort to reigning queen in her own right.
“She has some history going on,” she said. “You’ve got so much going on - she’s been good, she’s been bad, and just starting where she is on the show and moving from there, it is so much fun.”
Isabelle Cornish, who plays Princess Crystal, said enjoyed her character’s dynamic with her teleporting dog Lockjaw.
“What I appreciate most of her is the challenges she faces becoming a woman and also having superpowers,” she added. “So I think that’s a very relatable thing for young girls, and it’s an inspiration, and it’s something they can see and relate it to their own lives.”
Ken Leung, who plays the skilled Inhuman fighter Karnak, said that his character’s flaw-finding abilities “must give him a sort of crisis of compassion… if I see everything that’s going on with you right away - I have a choice. I can use that to really hurt you, but I could use that to really help you.”
Like Mount, Leung said he also turned to comic books for inspiration, citing Warren Ellis’s recent run on the character.
“The vibe of it, the feeling of it, there’s no two ways about it. It’s hard to even describe. It’s just unrelenting, dark… it’s like the blackest black,” he said. “Like, how does this guy even live with himself? So the color for that is so sharp, it gave me something to work with.”
Eme Ikwuakor, who plays the Inhumans’ chief of security, Gorgon, said he saw his character as a “protector” who brought a physical counterpoint to Karnak’s razor-sharp intelligence.
“He’s a character who acts on his impulses,” he said. “Everybody wants the ability to have freedom, and not to be held back. He doesn’t look at his consequences at all, and for me, that was so freeing, because it gave me the freedom and luxury to discover that in myself.”
Mike Moh, who plays the role of the aquatic Inhuman Triton, said that his character would have an interesting inner conflict about his role in the Royal Family, particularly since his excursion to Earth would bring him in contact with the water that the moon-based Attilan sorely lacks.
“There are definitely a lot of fans way back in the original days that have a soft spot for Triton - even Jeph Loeb said that Triton was one of his favorites. So there’s definitely a little bit of pressure,” Moh said of the character. “But it’s also nice to play a character that the general public doesn’t really have an opinion on, so it’s an honor to be able to shape that as the show goes on.”
In addition to the iconic Inhumans, the series also brings in new blood, such as Ellen Woglom’s character Louise, a scientist who discovers the secret city of Attilan on the moon.
“My character has been obsessed with all things space-related for a while, so she has tunnel vision related to her career,” Woglom said. “So when she discovers there’s a civilization on the moon, and they have a city, and they have superpowers, and now they’re here… she is like, ‘I knew it, that’s so exciting!’”
Woglom said that her character was meant to see the Inhumans through a regular person’s set of eyes, and that in particular her role would intersect with that of Medusa.
“They’re very much opposites, but what’s so interesting about the dynamic is they find out they have more in common than they realize, and they find a sort of mutual respect and appreciation and even admiration for one another and their differences and their strengths,” she said. “They don’t necessarily hit it off as two peas in a pod, but they go on a journey in which they find common ground.”
Meanwhile, Sonya Balmores, who plays the comparatively new Inhuman character Auran, said she actually felt free not to have to live up to decades of previous continuity, since her character had only debuted in 2014.
She added that working with the costumes and makeup crew helped her build and inhabit the role.
“I was born and raised in Hawaii. I grew up in a bikini and running around with no shoes,” she said. “So zipping up this costume that’s all black leather and that edgy haircut, that definitely helps me step into a different character.”
Buck also discussed the differences between Inhumans and his last Marvel-produced show, Iron Fist, which debuted earlier this year on Netflix.
“When you create for Netflix, which is a wonderful place, you’re still thinking small screen, you’re thinking real grounded characters,” he said. “Here, we’re thinking superheroes with just crazy superpowers on an IMAX screen - but even so, we want everyone to relate to these characters and like these characters, so we’re still trying to make them as real and grounded as possible, it’s just the world around them that’s insane.”
Ikwuakor echoed that sentiment, describing how this Inhumans series rested on the dynamics between Black Bolt, Medusa, Maximus, and the rest of the Royal Family.
“It’s very relatable. You’re dealing with brothers and sisters and cousins — at the end of the day, this is all filled with love,” said Ikwuakor. “At the end of the day, you want to make something relatable, and even if you’re not a longtime Marvel fan, you can still enjoy it.”
Return to Newsarama later this week for our review of the two-part season premiere.