The Inhumans are some of the oldest beings in the world of Marvel comic books, but they haven’t had their true live-action debut until now. Marvel is giving audiences a chance to see the Inhuman royal family on the big screen before their new series debuts on ABC.
Of course, the Inhumans have already been introduced to audiences though Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on TV, thanks to Skye AKA Daisy Johnson AKA Quake being revealed as the daughter of an Inhuman woman. How the Inhumans television series connects, if at all, to Marvel’s flagship TV series remains to be seen, but fans of the original Inhumans are sure to be interested in just how they’ll be portrayed.
In honor of their make or break big screen debut, we’re taking a look at Medusa, Queen of the Inhumans, and one of the first to appear in the comics. She’ll be brought to life by Serinda Swan for Marvel, and the few glimpses audiences have seen of her have been hair-raising, to say the least. For those not familiar with the character, or those who want a reminder before they see her in action, we’ve put together 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Medusa.
15. Medusa Debuted In A Fantastic Four Comic
Marvel’s first family, the Fantastic Four, was the first set of heroes to be introduced to an Inhuman on the page, and it happened to be Medusa herself.
Issue #36 of the series featured Reed Richards and Sue Storm celebrating their engagement with some superhero friends like the X-Men and Thor, along with Spider-Man swinging by to steal a piece of cake, but it also featured a team of villains intent on taking the Four out, which is where Medusa came in.
Thanks to a classic case of comic book amnesia, Medusa didn’t know she was Queen of the Inhumans at the time, and decided to help out someone she thought was an old friend, joining up with his team of villains. Medusa, Sandman, Paste-Pot Pete, and their leader the Wizard fought the Fantastic Four before her history was unravelled.
14. She Has Psionic Abilities
Medusa’s Inhuman ability involves controlling her hair like another appendage. She uses it to battle enemies, carry objects, open doors, etc. She even has enough control over her strands of hair to complete intricate tasks, like picking locks!
This ability to control her hair doesn’t come from her nervous systems like nerves telling fingers and toes what to do. Instead, her hair’s movements are the result of a psionic field that she controls.
Psionic powers are also known as psychic abilities. Some other Marvel heroes who possess similar powers? Jean Grey, Emma Frost, Psylocke, Scarlet Witch, and Cable. All of those heroes can certainly do more than control hair, like communicate telepathically or create psionic weapons, but whether or not Medusa has other psionic abilities has yet to be explored.
13. Medusa Isn’t Her Real Name
Medusa might be the name the comic book character is best known for, but it’s actually not her real name. Instead, it’s more like a nickname, or if she was an X-Men, a codename.
Medusa’s full name is Medusalith Amaquelin Boltagon. Medusa is an easy way to shorten Medusalith, though, so we can’t really blame anyone for that one, especially considering her hair is what she’s known for, just like the Medusa of Greek myth.
While Marvel’s Medusa has intricate control of her tresses and can make them do whatever she wants, mythology buffs will remember that Medusa was a worshipper of the goddess Athena whose hair could also do something out of the ordinary. Raped by Poseidon in Athena’s temple, Athena gave the woman a way to protect herself – turning her hair into venomous snakes which would transform anyone who looked at her into stone.
12. She’s A Frightful Four and Fantastic Four Alum
That group of villains that first introduced Medusa to Marvel comic book readers? That was a group known as the Frightful Four. Medusa was with them until she was able to recover her memory, at which point she stopped working with the bad guys.
The group has had some high profile villains join up over the years – like Deadpool, Punisher, and Taskmaster when they cross the antihero line – but they always just have four members at a time to battle the Fantastic Four.
Medusa, funnily enough, has also been a member of the Fantastic Four. Sue Storm chose Medusa to stand in for her when she had her son, but also when the foursome had to leave Earth and wanted to make sure they left heroes in their place to care for humanity.
11. She Made the Inhuman/Human Connection
As the comic book mythology goes, Inhumans were created by the Kree to fight in an ancient intergalactic war. The Kree mixed their own DNA with that of humans in order to create the ultimate fighting machines, but the Inhumans produced all manner of different abilities instead, and the Kree weren’t too keen on the race they created.
Maximus, brother to King Black Bolt of the Inhumans, believed that Inhumans and humans were natural enemies, and in Fantastic Four #48, he set out to destroy humanity. Using a weapon he designed that would leave Inhumans unharmed, he was shocked to find that it didn’t actually harm humans either.
It was Medusa who pointed out that his plan failed because Inhumans and humans weren’t different races after all – the only difference was that Inhumans had special abilities. Of course, that wouldn’t stop Maximus from hating humans and Medusa from constantly trying to protect them.
10. Medusa And Black Bolt Are Cousins
The stories of the Inhumans in Marvel Comics have often explored the dynamics of a class system other teams of heroes haven’t due to the spotlight being on the royal family. They have to deal with the usual villains, but also have to deal with just what it means to be royals leading their community.
Some readers don’t realize that Black Bolt and Medusa were already both members of the royal family before they married, however. Just as it was common practice in the middle ages for families to keep a royal bloodline by marrying distant cousins, the Inhumans, as an isolated group, did the same.
Medusa and Black Bolt were first revealed to be second cousins in Thor #149. Writer Stan Lee had been including a B-story in Thor’s comics to introduce Inhuman history to readers, where it was established that Black Bolt’s uncle was married to Medusa’s aunt, making them cousins by marriage.
9. Medusa’s bout with amnesia led to some strange adventures
During Medusa’s amnesia spell, she wasn’t just a member of the Frightful Four. She also spent some time in France, where she lived with a jewel thief named Paul Dumas and became a burglar.
While she was in Paris, Medusa was targeted by citizens who found her “different” thanks to her abilities with her hair. Paul offered her sanctuary in his home, but since he was a jewel thief, Medusa learned his craft while she stayed there. It was then that she learned to pick locks using strands of her hair.
Unfortunately for the Inhuman queen, her refuge didn’t last, since Paul was interested in pursuing romance and, even though she didn’t remember her past, Medusa was not. When she continually spurned his advances, he arranged for her to take the fall for his crimes, and she was forced to flee Paris.
8. She Dated The Human Torch
This is one Marvel comic book relationship we’re unlikely to see on the big screen – unless Marvel Studios suddenly gets the on screen rights to the Fantastic Four back – but in recent years, Black Bolt hasn’t been the only man in Medusa’s life.
Black Bolt and Medusa’s marriage hasn’t always been a happy one. During the 2015 Uncanny Inhumans series, the duo were actually separated for a time. It was during that separation that Medusa and her old friend Johnny Storm reconnected. He started teaming up with the Inhumans on missions, and a relationship blossomed.
What complicated matters was that Johnny was actually the ex-boyfriend of Medusa’s little sister Crystal, and Black Bolt was still very much in love with Medusa. He wasn’t particularly happy to discover the two were together when he returned to help out his family.
7. She Was A Member Of The Illuminati
The Illuminati were originally a group of leaders of superhero teams brought together by Tony Stark to create something of a think tank. They were comprised of some of the most brilliant minds in Marvel. In addition to Tony, there was Reed Richards, Professor Charles Xavier, Namor, Doctor Strange, and Black Bolt.
The idea was that this group could meet in secret and share information about their respective groups – mutants, Avengers, Atlanteans, magic users, and Inhumans – to help keep the planet safe. Medusa wasn’t originally a member, but she took her place at the table to represent the Inhumans when Black Bolt was thought to be dead.
Medusa’s involvement with the group involved a search for one of the Infinity Gems, the Reality Gem. Once it was recovered, the group, along with new member Steve Rogers, made it their mission to make sure all of the gems were separated from one another.
6. Spider-Man Fought Her Over A Hairspray Advertisement
Since the Inhumans lived so much of their time in seclusion, they would occasionally send individual members of their community out into the world to see how humanity would view them. Medusa decided to venture out into the world and report back to her people in Amazing Spider-Man #62, and she definitely didn’t get off on the right foot with the web-slinging hero.
A misunderstanding had them arguing right out of the gate, but Medusa went on her way to interact with “common people” instead of costumed heroes. She ended up agreeing to shoot an ad campaign for Heavenly Hair Spray so that human beings could see her in action.
Unfortunately for the advertising guys, she grew tired of manipulating her hairstyle for their photographs, and she decided to leave, but not before using her hair to damage some of their equipment. The men called on Spider-Man to defend them, and the two heroes duked it out on the New York skyline.
5. She Was A Lady Liberator
The Lady Liberators might seem like an old fashioned name for a feminist group – that’s because it was. The group, led by Valkyrie, included Medusa, Scarlet Witch, Black Widow, and the Wasp, but there was a catch.
In reality, this group was led by the evil Enchantress in disguise. She made the women seem like they were doing good work for other women, and then she turned on them. The group, which seems like it would have made for a great team up, only appeared in a single issue of Avengers, #83, though She-Hulk tried her hand at creating a similar group years later.
4. She Recently Gave Up The Throne
One of the hallmarks of the appearance of Inhumans in Marvel Comics is that the royal family is at the center of things. Even as Nuhumans like Ms. Marvel have emerged, the royal family has still been a large presence on Earth. That’s changing following the events of the Inhumans vs X-Men miniseries.
In the miniseries, the two groups came into conflict thanks to a Terrigen cloud on the planet. Inhumans need Terrigen in order to activate their abilities, while the Terrigen mist proved toxic to mutants. After plenty of fighting amongst the two groups, it was Medusa who destroyed the Terrigen on Earth after realizing that it put mutants in danger.
As a result, her life energy has been draining and she, along with the rest of the royal family, have abolished the throne in Attilan, journeying through space to find more Terrigen on the Kree homeworld.
3. Medusa Is Not Serinda Swan’s First Comic Book Role
After plenty of auditions and rumors about just who would bring the Inhumans to the screen, it was former Graceland regular Serinda Swan who won the role of the Inhuman Queen Medusa, but this isn’t the first time she’s played a comic book character.
The actress hasn’t taken on a Marvel role before now, but instead, she was a former DC favorite. Swan appeared in three episodes of the WB series Smallville as Zatanna. She first appeared on a quest to retrieve her family’s spellbook, which had wound up in the hands of Lex Luthor. Over time, she became an ally of Clark Kent and reached out to him when she couldn’t handle a tough villain on her own.
2. Medusa’s Live Action Hair Has Not Been Warmly Received
Since normal human beings can’t psionically control their hair, creating Medusa’s look for the live action Inhumans series has been very difficult. When fans weren’t very happy with their first look at Medusa’s hair, showrunner Scott Buck was quick to point out just how difficult a task had been set to his team.
Buck spoke with Entertainment Weekly about working on the series, explaining in May after the first clips had been released that, “it’s still a process. It takes quite a long time in post to make that effect work.”
While some scenes feature Serinda Swan in a wig, in others, her hair was very short to allow CGI to do the rest. Fans have yet to see the finished product, but many don’t have confidence in the final result, given just how difficult the task is for a project that has a TV show budget for its VFX team.
1. Medusa’s Wig Wrote Us All A Letter
After the comments about Medusa’s CGI and her awful wig took the internet by storm, it seemed her wig wasn’t having it, and the hairpiece penned an open letter to the internet.
Over at io9, an editorial from the point of view of Medusa’s wig was shared in July with the reveal that it, “wanted to take the time to respond to some of the concerns that have been voiced… about [its] performance.” The letter even called the wig Jeph Loeb sported for the Comic Con panel in July its stunt double, Sondra.
While the editorial itself is full of humor and will give longtime fans a laugh, it also reminds us that there’s a “strength and ferocity” that Medusa’s hair is supposed to embody, and that her hair is “as much her crown as it is her most trusted weapon.”
Getting to be Medusa’s hair is the role of a lifetime, so we hope it pans out.
We hope this primer on Medusa prepares you for her live action debut! You can catch Medusa and the rest of the Inhumans on the big screen in a limited IMAX run starting September 1. The eight episode series will debut on ABC on September 29.
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