Inhumans finally premieres on ABC this week, but with in the light of highly negative press will the eight-episode season be canceled early?
The latest arm of the Marvel Cinematic Universe had a difficult journey to the screen. Originally announced as a film set for a November 2018 release, it was removed from the MCU slate after major ructions behind the scenes at Marvel Studios and eventually shifted to being an ABC mini-series. The early character reveals and trailers for the resulting show weren't received well by fans, and the critical and audience reaction to the special IMAX premiere at the start of the month was almost entirely negative (and its box office take, even accounting for per-screen average, was weak).
As Inhumans airs properly, kicking off the season-proper, the question hanging over it is can it turn this around and, if not, will it find itself tossed aside?
Will Inhumans Be Cancelled Early?
Of course, we don't at present know what Inhumans' viewing figures will be like, but they're sure to be a fraction of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s 12.2 million premiere from 2013, which benefitted from the hype of The Avengers and being the first MCU show. That series circled the low 2 millions in its latest season and similar sort of numbers could be expected for its sort of spin-off given the lack of inbuilt fanbase and negative press, which for the start of a new series would be most certainly viewed as underperforming.
At the very least, even if Inhumans is DOA, ABC has eight episodes it has to air. Unlike traditional network TV, the whole thing is in the can before we begin, meaning that adjustments can't be made in response to criticism and there's no real opportunity for mid-season cancellation. This is double is mooted Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. crossovers are planned for that show's Season 5 - it needs to last out at least that long.
Will The Show's Lack of Renewal Be Announced Early?
What could happen, though, is a confirmation the show won't return for Season 2. While rumors of early cancellation sparked by posters citing ABC would air "The Complete Series" (not season) were debunked (that verbiage had been used across the marketing), few were surprised by the possibility, revealing an expectation for the show to fail. The proof will be in the ratings and how the quality goes from the first two seen episodes; networks can keep low-performing series or ones that will take time to mature going, but with both concerns that's a big ask. That said, it being canned early or mid-run would be a bad move as it, in this case, serves as an admission the show doesn't work.
Low ratings for ABC would probably be the end of it, although Inhumans isn't any old show. As Variety recently outlined, the cost of the show to the network was greatly lessened by the IMAX deal, meaning there's less impetus to cut financially. But bigger is the news is that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is only going into its fifth season (again, in the wake of poor ratings) due to higher Disney oversight. As Inhumans is the product of executive obsession (Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter has been the power behind the project existing as a movie and later show), it could be subject to similar meddling, leading to it staying on the air, possibly in an attempt to improve the sullied brand.
Inhumans' future isn't known, and even in the upper echelons of ABC isn't going to be certain until the first few weeks' numbers are in, but it's certainly on shaky ground. Let's just hope they didn't end it on a cliffhanger.
Inhumans premieres Friday, September 29th on ABC.