This season, two long running Marvel Comics properties made their transition to television at roughly the same time, one based on the X-Men, called The Gifted--which debuted on Fox--and the other Marvel's Inhumans, which landed on ABC. Both of these properties debuted within just a couple of years of each other in the comics back in the sixties, and both were created by the legendary duo of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Yet, both of these series had very different reactions from both critics and fans, with The Gifted being praised, by and large, and Inhumans being raked over the coals. So what did one show do right that the other seemingly missed the mark on? Here are five ways The Gifted succeeded where Inhumans didn't.
Keeping The Focus On Character
The pilot episode for The Gifted keeps things much smaller than the usual X-Men film ever would, and focuses on one family of mutants on the run and one group of mutant underground refugees. The characters are given relatable human traits so we can empathize with them, and the focus is on that rather than trying to create a large world for these characters to inhabit.
Inhumans barely gives us a moment to get know its characters, or convey what makes them tick, before plot heavy machinations kick in. It wants us to marvel (pardon the expression) at all of its world-building and action scenes instead, specifically the secret Inhuman city on the moon, but it doesn't have the budget to carry out these big sequences in any way that would make them impressive.
Smarter Use Of A Limited Budget
Much of the criticism leveled against Inhumans is on how low budget it all looks, certainly in comparison to other big Marvel properties. but the truth is that it's highly unlikely that the budget for Inhumans was much less than that for The Gifted. So why did that show get a pass? With shows like this, it's not about how much money you've got to play with, but how you spend it. The Gifted only has a few action sequences, but pulls them off capably. Meanwhile, Inhumans is biting off more than it can chew in terms of trying to do action special effects spectacle from frame one, and it just never works.
Connecting To Its Parent Cinematic Universe
The Gifted also makes mention of characters in the greater X-Men cinematic universe, making it feel connected to something larger. We might not be sure which X-Men movie timeline we are in, but we know that the X-Men and the Brotherhood are out there, and could in some form appear down the line. The character of Blink is clearly a younger version of the one from the films. Inhumans, on the other hand, is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but you'd never know it from watching the pilot episode. Aside from a very vague reference to events in Agents of SHIELD, the events of Inhumans might as well be taking place in its own universe. Avengers who?
Listening To The Fans
It also seems that the showrunners of The Gifted actually listen to the fans, whereas Inhumans just ignores them. When early photos from the pilots of both shows emerged, fans complained loudly about the looks of the costumes, etc. With Inhumans, those complaints fell on deaf ears; the production just ignored it all, while you can already see the changes from one episode of The Gifted to another. In the pilot, mutant Lorna Dane, a.k.a. Polaris, has black hair, instead of her signature green hair from the comics. In the previews for the second episode, she now has green hair, showing that the producers actually listened to the fans, and didn't just ignore them.
The Politics Aren't Muddled
On The Gifted, the mutants are, as always, a metaphor for the plight of persecuted minorities of all sorts. The show handles this aspect pretty well, and of course it has always been a staple of X-Men lore since 1963. On the other hand, the politics of Inhumans is kind of confusing, at least on the surface. The show presents us with a royal family who rules over a strict caste system of its people, yet the royals are supposed to be the good guys we root for? As far as the average viewer can tell -- especially ones who have never read the comic books -- the royal family does have a lot to answer for, making the viewer not see the protagonists as sympathetic. That's kind of a big problem.
Both shows have only just begun, and things can go any which way as both series progress. As Marvel fans, we are rooting for both to succeed. But right now, our money is on The Gifted unless drastic behind the scenes changes happen for Inhumans, which, with only eight episodes ordered and all of them in the can, we're not really holding our breath for.
Are you watching either Marvel series right now? Let us know your thought on either (or both) down in the comments below.
Images: Marvel Television / ABC / Twentieth Century Fox
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