Is Marvel’s latest ABC drama, Inhumans, the worst new show of the fall TV season? According to the latest round of reviews, the series that initially bowed in Imax theaters just might be.
The show from showrunner Scott Buck (Dexter) stars Anson Mount, Serinda Swan, Ken Leung, Isabelle Cornish, Ellen Woglom and Iwan Rheon and follows a group of mutants known as Inhumans as they fight to get back to their home following a military coup.
As of press time, Inhumans has a paltry Rotten Tomatoes score of 4 percent. Critics across the board are panning the show, including The Hollywood Reporter‘s Daniel Fienberg. In his review, Fienberg says, “Marvel’s latest venture (on ABC) combines poorly developed characters, confusing superpowers and lovely Hawaiian scenery into a leaden dud.”
Blaming “underwritten parts” and “miscasting” for a lackluster ensemble, Fienberg says it’s hard to know what to root for on the show. “Who and what we’re supposed to be rooting for is maybe the biggest flaw in a series of insurmountable flaws and a crucial bit of storytelling Buck was unable to crack,” he writes.
Mike Hale of The New York Times agrees in his review, and goes so far as to say that Inhumans “looks like the worst Marvel show out there.” Finding the premise “dodgy” and the effects “cheap,” Hale suggests viewers would be better off checking out Monday’s premiere of The Gifted on Fox (the show is another Marvel property).
Alan Sepinwall at Uproxx has some bones to pick with the storytelling. He explains that the character Karnak (Leung) and his powers are oddly ill-defined on the show. In the comics, Karnak finds an object or foe’s deepest flaw and uses that to destroy said adversary. Sepinwall says this flaw in the show underlies a deeper problem: “Maybe the creative team didn’t want viewers to understand the whole ‘spot the biggest weak spot’ gag because it might prime them to notice that Inhumans is pretty much all weak spots, as cynical as it is awful, clearly made by people with no idea how to tell a story about these characters, or perhaps interest in doing so.”
The show, which had a groundbreaking deal with Imax in which the first two episodes premiered over the summer in almost 700 theaters, was slightly altered for its television debut. Even the changes couldn’t help the show, according to Sepinwall. “Amazingly, the version that will air on Friday night is worse than what the TCA got to see in the summer. With each passing minute, Inhumans feels slower, dumber and emptier,” he says, adding that “the show has no reason to exist except that Marvel wanted it to, by any means necessary.”
Despite the fact Entertainment Weekly‘s Darren Franich finds the series “boring,” he says some of the on-location shots of Hawaii are “lovely.” However, it’s not enough to overcome what he calls “terrible acting.” Overall, he writes, “Inhumans has an eight-episode run on ABC, but by the second hour, it already feels like they’re stalling, or running out the clock.”
Over at IGN, Joshua Yehl says that although Inhumans had the potential to be the MCU’s Game of Thrones, “the show is a disappointment on every level,” with costumes and makeup that resemble last-minute Inhumans cosplay, “bland, forgettable” sets and “clunky dialogue.” He says that although the cast is talented, “they’re buried beneath the show’s glaring flaws, making it impossible to get invested in anyone enough to want to see what happens next.”
USA Today‘s Kelly Lawler agreed almost word-for-word with Yehl, writing, “Much is lost in translation from the comics to the screen, and the entire production has an air of cheapness and incompleteness. The dialogue is stilted, the costumes are too literal, the sets are drab and the action scenes are poorly directed and hard to follow.”
Liz Shannon Miller at IndieWire pulled no punches in her review, summing it up thusly: “Inhumans is legitimately the worst Marvel adaptation of the year (yes, even beating out Iron Fist). In fact, as far as terrible Marvel adaptations go, you might have to go all the way back to Roger Corman’s unreleased 1994 Fantastic Four film to best it.”