If the new theatrical release of”Marvel’s Inhumans” was intended to create some healthy buzz around the forthcoming ABC show of that name, then the result has had the opposite effect: The IMAX preview — stitched together from the series’s first two episodes — is increasing the critical bleeding.
Previously, over the summer, early looks at the new series were met with everything from concern to scorn, including some boos at San Diego Comic-Con. Yet the fan hope was that what looked like shoddy production values in the first trailers would yield to a burnished, Marvel-worthy look on the big screen.
So far, the news is only worse.
On Sept. 1, “Marvel’s Inhumans” opened for a two-week theatrical run on nearly 400 IMAX screens. The film grossed $1.5 million domestically in the first weekend. Yet the movie currently has a “zero” freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 11 reviews — a score even the lowly “Emoji Movie” was eventually able to avert.
In other words: Can Marvel somehow avoid a rare major misfire?
The reviews of the theatrical release read like accident reports from first-responders surveying the flaming wreckage.
“The show is a disappointment on every level,” writes IGN’s Joshua Yehl.
“Even a bigger budget wouldn’t have fixed the stilted dialogue, one-dimensional characters and questionable acting,” writes Las Vegas Weekly’s Josh Bell.
The Inhumans, of course, are Marvel’s odd royal family of lower-tier superheroes who are armed with the quirkiest of powers. ABC’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” has introduced the Inhuman lineage with such leading characters as Agent Daisy Johnson, but “Inhumans” introduces a separate cinematic universe.
Now, Black Bolt (Anson Mount), Medusa (Serinda Swan) and family must flee their Attilan moon kingdom in a coup, and some of the Inhumans end up along the gorgeous shores of Honolulu, which you would think might improve the look of the project, even if only naturally.
Instead, “Inhumans” is said to be a dingy, dull experiment in so many ways.
“The costumes and makeup look like a group of friends decided to do Inhumans cosplay the day before Comic-Con,” IGN writes.
This theatrical release raises two central questions. For the filmgoer, the issue is: “Should I pay up to $20 for this?”
The bigger question, for the studio, is why Marvel chose to make this an ABC series instead of a feature film. Jeph Loeb, the head of Marvel TV, defended that decision in recent days, saying that they wanted the longer run of a show to give more time to develop these characters. He told CBR that he wanted an “opportunity where you’re not entirely reliant on epic and spectacle and the roller-coaster ride which are the Marvel movies; which I absolutely love and there is no bigger fan.”
TV’s “Marvel’s Inhumans” debuts Sept. 29 on ABC.