Review: Marvel adds two new mutant series with 'The Gifted' and 'Inhumans"
It seems like the era of comic book-based TV shows has reached capacity.
A conservative estimate puts the number of shows based on comic books at 18. And those are just the ones that have aired in the past year.
Marvel has the lion's share of the small screen, and now adds four more series to its lineup starting with The Gifted on Fox and Inhumans on ABC.
Like its cousin, the critical darling Legion on FX, The Gifted also gives the spotlight to characters without household names.
Stephen Moyer and Amy Acker anchor the charming Strucker family, whose two teenage children Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind) and Andy (Percy Hynes White) are eventually exposed for having mutant abilities.
At a school dance gone horribly wrong, Lauren is forced to use her force field ability to save her brother, who was being relentlessly bullied until his mutant power manifested itself.
This is a world where those with mutant powers are hunted and jailed by an oppressive government. The heroic X-Men are gone and the Mutant Brotherhood is nowhere to be found. And Reed (Moyer) and Kate (Acker) must take their family on the run to avoid losing their children to the Sentinel Services.
Of course, the best part of any piece of entertainment that features an oppressive regime is the underground communities that band together and resist.
And the mutant underground network in The Gifted has some characters comic fans will instantly recognize: Thunderbird (Blair Redford), Eclipse (Sean Teale), Polaris (Emma Dumont) and Blink (Jamie Chung).
It's clear Fox spent time and money to make sure these superhuman abilities played well on screen. The CGI used for Lauren's "invisible" force field and Blink's magenta teleporting blasts is sharp without feeling exaggerated or cheesy.
While The Gifted probably won't be critics' favorite like Legion, it starts off on solid footing and has the potential to be the action-packed, familial series that Marvel desperately needs on network TV.
The same can't be said for ABC's Inhumans.
Inhumans had a long, difficult road to the small screen and unfortunately that tiresome journey didn't end in a smash hit.
Besides the conundrum of the now-quashed "Inhumanity arc" that was in place for future Marvel films, it's difficult to anchor a series with a character who can't speak.
Black Bolt (Anson Mount) is the king of Attilan, the secret city on the moon where Inhumans fled after years of persecution. He can't speak. Well, he CAN but his voice has the potential to kill people and destroy cities. His queen and wife, Medusa (Serinda Swan) has the ability to use her long, red hair as extra superhuman hands. They're a striking pair.
Rounding out the cast is her younger, elements-controlling sister Crystal (Isabelle Cornish); Karnak (Ken Leung), who can "see the faults in all thing;" Gorgon (Eme Ikwuakor) who can produce seismic waves with his hoofed feet; and Maximus (Iwan Rheon) the younger brother without any Inhuman powers.
In the first two episodes of Inhumans, the wonky storyline takes us from cheesily introducing the show's main characters to Maximus establishing a violent military coup because he's salty about Black Bolt not wanting to go back to Earth.
And while it's already cringe-worthy watching characters trying to converse with the mute wall that is Black Bolt, it's made even worse with the less-than-stellar CGI and clunky dialogue.
But, hey, at least we have the adorable giant CGI teleporting bulldog Lockjaw to give us a few laughs.
Contact Chelsea Tatham at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @chelseatatham.
First two episodes premiere at 8 p.m. Friday on ABC.
9 p.m. Monday on Fox