The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand at a rapid rate this year, with two big-screen successes already under its belt (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming), Thor: Ragnarok still to come, and at least two new series on the way (The Defenders and Inhumans, with a possible fall release for Punisher as well). It's a full slate for the comic giant this year, and fans have noticed that it's got a distinctly cosmic feel to it.
While Homecoming and Defenders are about street-level superheros, Inhumans, Ragnarok and Guardians Vol 2 all take place at least partially off-world. It's not too surprising, of course, as the MCU continues to evolve and pushes the envelope, introducing more 'out there' concepts and lesser known characters, and building toward the biggest cosmic battle of all: 2018's Infinity War. With the always-connected MCU now truly starting to expanding into galactic storylines, fans are wondering just how connected these latest offerings will be.
While it's clear that both the Guardians and the events of Ragnarok will tie directly into Infinity War, what about the latest addition to the small screen? The Inhumans have plenty of connections in the comics, but will they (and Agents of SHIELD) be joining the big-screen cosmic universe any time soon?
Short answer: no, almost certainly not, due to the rift between Marvel Studios and Marvel TV. But for fans who are dedicated to the idea that "it's all connected," here's how the Inhumans (theoretically) fit into Marvel's cosmic landscape.
Who Are The Inhumans?
The concept of Inhumans isn't a new one for fans of the MCU, as they've already been introduced in Agents of SHIELD. Through that series, fans already know the basics about this super-powered race: they are the result of genetic experimentation done on humans by the Kree, and then abandoned on Earth. Those with Inhuman DNA can be transformed by contact with Terrigen Mist, which alters them and grants them powers, which are different for everyone. On a very basic level, this is the same origin story as the one told in the comics, although the TV series has made quite a few changes in the process of making this race their own.
While the basic idea of Inhumans is covered in Agents of SHIELD, the majority of big-name characters from the comics haven't made an appearance, and these are the ones that the new Inhumans series is set to focus on. This series will begin in the lunar city of Attilan, centered on the Royal Family of another group of Inhumans who live entirely separate from humans. This includes the best-known names from the comics, such as Black Bolt (Anson Mount), Medusa (Serinda Swan), Maximus (Iwan Rheon), Crystal (Isablle Cornish) and Gorgon (Eme Ikwuakor). Having lived in isolation for many years, the trailer shows Maximus stirring up a rebellion that will lead to the appearance of these Royal Inhumans on Earth.
The Kree Connection
The most obvious connection that the Inhumans will have with the existing MCU is through Agents of SHIELD, and the Inhumans on Earth. It would make perfect sense to connect these two shows, as the Royal Family must surely be aware of the existence of other Inhumans on the surface, and may even end up connecting with government organizations such as SHIELD and (possibly) SWORD.
However, despite the obvious connections, Marvel has yet to confirm any crossovers beyond the general understanding that everything within this cinematic universe is connected in some way. Most of the connections between the big and small screens have remained minor: casual references and Easter Eggs, the occasional cameo on Agents of SHIELD, and not much else. This is partly due to the differing production schedules of movies and TV shows, but to a greater extent is due to the fact that, since September 2015, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has answered directly to Disney, circumventing Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter. Marvel Entertainment still controls the TV side of things, however, which means that the two halves of the MCU are essentially separate operations.
So, does that mean that there will be Agents of SHIELD and Inhumans crossovers to look forward to? Well, not necessarily. Not only do the film and TV sides of the MCU operate largely independent of one another, Marvel TV also seems to have its own pocket universes. Most notably, Agents of SHIELD has yet to crossover with any of the Marvel Netflix series like Luke Cage and Daredevil. While Inhumans showrunner Scott Buck (who was also the showrunner on Netflix series Iron Fist) has said that SHIELD and Inhumans may affect one another by virtue of existing in the same universe, it doesn't sound like there are any concrete plans to tie the two shows together just yet.
The Inhumans And The Guardians
Via the Kree and the Royal Family, Inhumans is also connected to Guardians of the Galaxy, another cosmic corner of the MCU. In the comics, the Inhumans tangle with Ronan The Accuser more than once, starting with Ronan's invasion of Attilan, when he revealed that the Inhumans were created as living weapons for the Kree and forced them into (temporary) servitude. Since then he has become something of an ally to the Inhumans, bringing them and the Kree together in a new alliance sealed by his marriage to Crystal.
In the Guardians world, Ronan (Lee Pace) was a major antagonist in the first movie, with close connections to Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan). Had he survived that film, fans could expect him to become involved in the new Inhumans series, but he was killed off by the Infinity Stone that the Guardians encountered. While Ronan may no longer be around, however, he and the Kree empire have been a huge part of the Guardians films, which means that we could see some overlap between the two worlds - even if it's just the Inhumans talking about Xandarians or Thanos.
Ragnarok And Thor In Space
The Kree have also been mentioned by one of the major players in the Thor franchise: Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander). When Sif came to Earth to help Agent Coulson and his team in Agents of SHIELD, she was asked about blue-skinned aliens and referred to the Kree, although she claimed that they had never come to Earth. Now, Lady Sif is returning to the big screen for Thor: Ragnarok, a film that is set to launch Thor into outer space, with the introduction of multiple planets and the kind of brightly-hued galactic adventures that the character was famous for in the comics.
As this film continues to bridge the gap between the Earth-bound Avengers and the space-faring Guardians, it's a good opportunity to nod to the TV side of things (perhaps Thor could encounter one of the Kree on his travels). However, while Thor did lend one of his sidekicks to Agents of SHIELD, don't hold your breath waiting for a Marvel movie to acknowledge one of the TV shows. So far, this has been exclusively a one-way street.