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What Is The Inhumans' Future In The MCU? Let's Talk About It

Marvel Comics artwork of the Inhuman Royal Family
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Created by comic book heavyweights Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the Inhumans are one of the more unusual groups of characters in the Marvel universe, but definitely not without their share of fans. With the main Royal Family consisting of Black Bolt, Medusa, Gorgon, Karnak, Crystal, Triton, Lockjaw and Maximus the Mad, these characters, and others of their kind, are born with special DNA that allows them to physically evolve and/or develop special powers when exposed to the Terrigen Mists. The Inhumans have been adapted in other media, but when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, their standing is more complicated.

While there once was a time when the Inhumans were being positioned as major players as in the MCU, their standing nowadays is significantly more tenuous. So do these characters have a bright future ahead of them in this franchise, or will they be relegated to the shadows?That’s what we’re here to discuss, but before that, let’s go over what we’ve seen of the Inhumans in live-action so far. 

Anson Mount's Black Bolt holding finger to mouth in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

What’s Happened With The Inhumans So Far In The MCU

As far as official Marvel Studios productions go, our only dive into Inhuman lore has been through Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which featured Anson Mount’s Black Bolt as a member of Earth-838’s Illuminati. This Black Bolt was described by that Earth’s Mordo as the “keeper of the Terrigen Mists” and the “Inhuman King,” but sadly he met a messy end when Earth-616’s Wanda Maximoff made his mouth disappear, causing him to scream in panic using his powerful voice and vaporize his own skull. At one time there had been plans for the Inhumans to get their own movie, but those were later scrapped.

Now if we’re talking about general MCU continuity, then the Inhumans have been around for a lot longer than that. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. brought them into the fold in its second season, with Chloe Bennett’s Daisy Johnson and many other important characters in the series boasting special abilities after going through Terrigenesis. The Inhuman Royal Family then led their own series, which is where Anson Mount first played Black Bolt. However, that show was met with mostly negative critical reception and was cancelled after just one season.

Given that the now-defunct Marvel Television was behind Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Inhumans, and those creative endeavors were run separately from what Marvel Studios cooked up, their placement within official MCU continuity is questionable at best. You’re certainly welcome to imagine those shows as taking place on another Earth, but if we’re looking strictly at Earth-616, i.e. where most of the Marvel Studios tales have unfolded, then technically we still haven’t seen an Inhuman. 

Marvel Comics artwork of the Inhuman Royal Family

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Why The Inhumans Might Not Be A Priority For The MCU

First off, it’s important to note that the MCU is in a much different place now compared to when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Inhumans pulled from this corner of Marvel lore. At the time, 20th Century Fox was still a separate film entity that held the film rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four, and Marvel Comics was spotlighting the Inhuman mythology through the ‘NuHuman era,’ where scores of new Inhumans popped up around the world as a result of a Terrigenesis Bomb being detonated at the end of the Infinity event. Because the MCU didn’t have access to mutants at the time, the franchise opted to follow the comics’ footsteps and use Inhumans in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. essentially as the MCU’s mutant fill-ins. But as already made clear in the previous section, we never saw an Inhuman in any of the Marvel movies during Phases 1-3.

By 2019, Disney acquired Fox, thus finally giving Marvel Studios access to the X-Men and Fantastic Four. In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, we also met Earth-838’s versions of Mister Fantastic and Professor X, and the Fantastic Four and X-Men will lead their own adventures in the main MCU reality in the coming years. So now that mutants are on the table, there’s no need to use Inhumans as a substitute for people with the genetic makeup to naturally gain special abilities. 

Which brings us to Ms. Marvel, which dropped a major bombshell concerning Iman Vellani’s version of Kamala Khan in its finale. In the comics, Kamala developed shapeshifting abilities when she went through Terregenesis, but in the episode “No Normal,” Kamala’s friend Bruno informed her that the reason she was able to get her hard light-constructing powers and not the rest of her family was because of some type of “mutation” in her genes. So right there, we know for a fact that Kamala is not an Inhuman in the MCU, and Sana Amanat, the character’s co-creator, even told Empire that she’d originally wanted to make Kamala a mutant in the comics.

Kamala Khan could have been an easy entry point for folks who only watch MCU projects and missed out on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Inhumans to be exposed to this colorful corner of Marvel lore, but that ship has sailed. It’s become abundantly clear over the years that the increased spotlight on the Inhumans in the comics was more of a corporate mandate, and nowadays this group of characters doesn’t get nearly as much attention. There was even a miniseries published called The Death of the Inhumans which ended with the Royal Family and a scattering of others being the only Inhumans left active on Earth. Between all that, plus the eventual arrival of the main X-Men team in the MCU and meeting the franchise’s Eternals last year, there’s a lot of ground covered that make the Inhumans unnecessary.

Marvel Comics artwork of the Inhuman Royal Family

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Why There Might Still Be Hope For The Inhumans’ MCU Future

Even with all of the above points working against the Inhumans, I wouldn’t necessarily count never seeing them have a prominent platform in the MCU.  If Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and the MCU’s leadership team was willing to have Black Bolt appear in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, then that indicates that there’s still hope for these characters to score the spotlight again someday. And to be clear, I’m specifically talking about the Inhuman Royal Family and the civilization they rule over, not having random people around the world suddenly develop Inhuman powers.

One big way to put the Inhuman Royal Family in a more unique position to stand out is by making them major players in the MCU’s cosmic realm. Yes, this overlaps with the Eternals, but to be fair, the Inhumans have been involved in their fair share of cosmic events in the comics, including War of Kings and the previously-mentioned Infinity. If Earth is becoming too crowded with superpowered folks, then just have the Royal Family follow in their comic book counterparts’ footsteps by transporting their capital city of Attilan to either the Blue Area of the Moon or even a different corner of the galaxy. Let’s get the Inhumans involved with affairs of species like the Kree, Skrulls and Shi’ar.

 Another possibility for how to effectively utilize the Inhumans in the MCU would require them to chiefly be supporting characters rather than placed center stage. The Inhumans debuted in the comics within the pages of the Fantastic Four series in the mid-1960s and have maintained close ties with that superhero team. One major way the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot (which will no longer be directed by Jon Watts) could distinguish itself from the prior movies is by having Mister Fantastic, Invisible Woman, The Thing and The Human Torch cross paths with the Inhumans. This would an especially good way to feature Crystal, Medusa’s sister who’s capable of manipulating air, water, fire and earth elemental forces. Not only is Crystal one of Johnny Storm’s love interest, she also was a member of the Fantastic Four, taking over for Sue Storm, who was pregnant with her son Franklin at the time.

Basically, the Inhumans don’t have nearly as solid a standing in the MCU as they once did, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t still get time to a significant amount of time to shine in this world someday. For now though, we’ll simply have to be content with Black Bolt’s minor appearance in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and make peace with Ms. Marvel either being a mutant or some kind of mutate in the MCU. 

Once any concrete details on the Inhumans’ live-action future are shared with the public, CinemaBlend will pass them along. Until then, keep track of what upcoming Marvel movies and upcoming Marvel TV shows are on the slate.

Adam Holmes
Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.