Promotional materials for Inhumans' debut on ABC are selling the show as a "complete series" and not as the first season of a new show, so has ABC already decided its fate? It has undoubtedly been a rocky road for Inhumans to make it to any screen. Originally set to be a 2019 film on Marvel Studios' slate, it was cancelled and later saved by ABC and IMAX to launch a new Marvel show. Ever since then, the property has a difficult time avoiding criticisms and getting people excited for the eight episode first season.
The IMAX premiere went better or worse than expected depending on who you ask, with it having a respectable $1.5 million opening. However, it has been destroyed by critics and IMAX shortened its theatrical runtime to only one full week. If that wasn't bad enough, promotional materials for the upcoming episodes don't make a second season sound likely.
Update: ABC reached out to clarify and correct, stating "this is the same promotional verbiage we’ve been using throughout our campaign, as this is not a new poster." Of course, the responses to the IMAX premiere have been the least positive of any Marvel Entertainment live-action release since becoming a Disney-owned brand and hence there's a sense of doom and gloom being shared throughout the media and fandom. Still, nothing can be said for certain until the entire season airs beginning later this month.
RenewCancelTV has pointed out an unusual phrase being used in the marketing for Inhumans. Where they would typically say when the "first season" begins airing, the marketing here is using "complete series" instead. This could be a signal that ABC, IMAX, and Marvel have already made their decision about the show's future, and are using this phrasing to preemptively announce the show is not going to live on.
It is important to note that this is just speculation at this point, but it is also difficult to deny what this phrasing means. Throughout the promotion for the series to this point, there has not been very much discussion over what a second season could entail. Why those questions have not come up is not clear, but it looks like the writing is already on the wall for Inhumans.
Should Inhumans be cancelled after one season, it will undoubtedly be Marvel's biggest failure to date. With the backing of IMAX, there was promise that something special could be done with it. But, in the aftermath of Iron Fist, many already predicted the demise of Inhumans since showrunner Scott Buck is the common thread between Marvel's two least liked shows.
Cancelling Inhumans so quickly could have major ramifications on the MCU as well depending on the final six episodes play out. Many have continued to wonder if it will crossover with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in any major way. If it does, these characters will be firmly established in the MCU continuity since S.H.I.E.L.D. abides by the MCU continuity the best it can and stars a former big screen character. There have already been a few connections at this point, but everything could easily be retconned in the future for the Inhumans to get their proper treatment in the future.
Whether or not that can happen will depend on the reception of Inhumans and how its story plays out, but right now the "complete series" doesn't appear to have a great chance of continuing on. Maybe the launch on ABC can get strong ratings, but at this point everyone involved may have already decided to cut their losses now.
Inhumans premieres on ABC on Friday, September 29.