Marvel Studios' recent Ms. Marvel announcement means they can no longer ignore the Inhumans. When Marvel Television launched Agents of SHIELD back in 2013, the plan was for the films and TV shows to be intimately connected. That plan was seemingly confirmed when Marvel Studios announced that their Phase 3 slate included the Inhumans - and then, in a surprising twist, the evolutionary offshoot of humanity made their MCU debut in Agents of SHIELD season 2.
Plans changed, of course. Behind-the-scenes drama led Disney to force a major corporate restructure in 2015, separating Marvel Studios out from the wider Marvel Entertainment group. Then Marvel successfully negotiated a deal with Sony that brought Spider-Man into the MCU, and the studio was forced to shuffle their slate. Inhumans was dropped completely, although there were rumors Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige didn't particularly mind. The idea had clearly been shelved, because it was passed on to Marvel Television, who launched an ill-fated TV series in partnership with IMAX. Since then, the Inhumans have essentially disappeared from the MCU, on both the big and the small screen.
Marvel Studios recently announced a Ms. Marvel series for Disney+, and that means they can't ignore the Inhumans any more. It will be fascinating to see how the studio handles them, because it will demonstrate once and for all whether or not the movies consider the TV shows to be canon.
Ms. Marvel's Comic Book Origin Is Connected To The Inhumans
Although Kamala Khan was briefly shown in a panel in 2013, she didn't make her proper comic book debut until 2014's Ms. Marvel series. At the time, Marvel Comics was giving the Inhumans a major push, and as a result they'd launched an important plot in which the Inhumans' "Terrigen Mist" had been released across the entire globe. If someone with an ancient Inhuman gene encountered the Terrigen, they collapsed and formed a regenerative cocoon, emerging as an Inhuman, with super-powers. Marvel decided to tie their new Ms. Marvel character into the Inhumans, using this gene to explain how a young Muslim-American girl suddenly became a superhero.
Ms. Marvel's Inhuman origin isn't just a minor detail, though; over the years she's developed a strong relationship with the Inhumans, with Lockjaw acting as a sidekick/pet on many occasions. Attilan and the Inhuman Royal Family have regularly appeared in the Ms. Marvel comics, albeit rather bemused by Kamala's heroic zeal. 2015's Secret Wars subtly expanded Ms. Marvel's powerset, in an Inhumans-focused plot. Fundamentally, while Kamala Khan may be a solo superhero, the fact remains that she's part of the wider Inhuman brand.
Ms Marvel's Origin Could Tie Marvel Studios & Marvel TV Together
Introduced in Agents of SHIELD, the Inhumans have become a core part of Marvel Television's corner of the MCU - not least because the show's greatest superhero, Quake, is an Inhuman. Agents of SHIELD season 2 ended with a plot loosely inspired by the comics, with Terrigen introduced into the Earth's oceans. This Terrigen was absorbed by Marine life, and anyone with an Inhuman gene who came into contact with it - say, by eating fish, or by using fish-based skin oils - had their latent powers triggered. Agents of SHIELD seasons 3 and 4 explored the social panic that developed as a result of random people spontaneously developing super-powers, but that seems to have died down of late.
This plot sets up a clear way to introduce Kamala Khan in the MCU; rather than exposed to the Terrigen Mists, she could simply eat fish and chips, and unwittingly ingest Terrigen. If Marvel Studios took this approach, it would implicitly acknowledge that everything in Marvel Television was truly canon in the MCU. For the first time since the corporate restructure in 2015, everything really would be "all connected."
Marvel Could Reboot The Inhumans Instead
Alternatively, Marvel Studios could take this opportunity to set up a complete reboot of the Inhumans. The sad truth is that Marvel Television's Inhumans plans never paid off; the Inhumans TV show was a flop, and there's some evidence it failed so badly that it affected comic book sales for the franchise too. It's notable that the last two seasons of Agents of SHIELD have abandoned the Inhumans arcs, and season 7 looks set to be focused on time travel and an alien invasion. Given it's been quite some time since Marvel Television really developed the Inhumans - and it will have been even longer by the time Ms. Marvel is released - there's clearly room for Marvel Studios to do a complete reboot. That could potentially set the stage for a new version of the Inhuman Royal Family to appear on the big screen.
And yet, if Marvel did this, it would immediately signify that the Marvel Television shows should be discounted from the MCU canon altogether. Agents of SHIELD was launched as the essential tie-in MCU TV series, and it's attempted to stick to movie continuity as much as possible, albeit facing major problems after Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. If Agents of SHIELD can be dismissed, then it's safe to assume everything else is non-canon as well - with the sole exception of Agent Carter, which was nodded to in Avengers: Endgame.
Will Marvel Simply Rewrite Ms Marvel's Origin Story?
There is, of course, one third possibility - and it's frankly more likely. Marvel Studios could avoid the whole issue by simply rewriting Kamala Khan's origin story so she has nothing to do with the Inhumans. The truth is that the Inhumans are quite a risky proposition; it's easy for comic book readers to forget, but aspects of the franchise are tied to the discredited pseudoscience of eugenics. Kevin Feige has never seemed especially enthused about them, and wasted little time dropping the Inhumans movie when he was given full control of Marvel Studios in 2015. Meanwhile, there's some evidence the brand has sustained lasting damage due to the TV series; as noted, the Inhumans had become a big deal in the comics ahead of their small-screen debut, but two years later, Marvel Comics is no longer releasing any Inhumans-related books at all bar Ms. Marvel. Marvel Studios may just choose to let this one slide, and give Kamala a brand new origin.
And yet, even that would send a message about the relationship between Marvel Studios and Marvel Television. Fans of TV shows such as Agents of SHIELD, Daredevil, and Runaways have long complained that they're ignored. Even actors such as Chloe Bennet have expressed dissatisfaction at the clear split between the films and the TV series. And this would be the most pointed example yet. A wasted opportunity for Marvel Studios to explicitly nod to Marvel Television.
All this means there's a lot riding on the Ms. Marvel Disney+ TV series. Marvel's decisions here will publicly demonstrate the relationship between Marvel Studios and Marvel Television once and for all, indicating whether or not shows such as Agents of SHIELD and Inhumans should really be considered part of the MCU proper. It will be fascinating to see how this plays out.
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