TAGGED AS: ABC, Comic Book, Marvel
As Mel Brooks and Tom Petty said, “It’s good to be king.” Maybe they should update the saying, because it’s good to be king and queen. Anson Mount and Serinda Swan play Black Bolt and Medusa on Marvel’s Inhumans. They are king and queen of a colony of superhumans with powers thanks to genetic modification. Also, they live on the moon.
There’s trouble brewing in their moon kingdom though. Maximus (Iwan Rheon), Black Bolt’s brother, isn’t Inhuman. He thinks it’s wrong to force humans without the Inhuman gene to work in the moon mines and leads a rebellion. This battle takes the Inhumans to Earth, Hawaii specifically, along with their giant dog Lockjaw. Here, they’re going to run into a lot more humans.
Swan and Mount spoke to Rotten Tomatoes before the premiere of Marvel’s Inhumans. Here are eight things the king and queen of the Inhumans revealed about the eight episodes of Inhumans’s first season.
At the beginning, it may seem like Medusa and Black Bolt are trying to stop a violent revolution. But then, it’s not very nice to make regular humans do all the hard work. Medusa even doubts herself.
“Both sides can be understood,” Swan said. “I think there’s no defined protagonist/antagonist. You see her kind of ebb and flow of what she thinks is right, her moral compass and conflict in the family.”
Even though there are some Inhumans on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., these Inhumans come to a place that hasn’t seen Inhumans before. Let’s just say Hawaiians aren’t gonna greet them with “mahalo.”
“Inhumans see the humans as evil and the humans see the Inhumans as evil,” Swan said. “So you see this dynamic, this duality come together where it’s two misunderstandings. You start to bridge that gap over time and [learn] to be more open and compassionate to differences.”
Black Bolt can’t speak. His voice can obliterate planets, so he keeps his mouth shut. Surprisingly, Mount had never been asked if Black Bolt enjoys staying mute or wishes he could speak more conventionally. Faced with the question for the first time, he decided.
“I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never thought of that question,” Mount said. “That’s a damn good question and something I’m going to spend time thinking about if we go to a second season. I would say where I’m starting, I think he’s kind of glad he doesn’t talk. I think it helps him be emotionally removed in a way that’s safe.”
Black Bolt uses sign language to speak with Medusa, but it’s not American Sign Language, because that didn’t exist on the moon. Mount created his own set of signs. By the end of season one, he had a 50-page Google document listing them all.
Several fictional languages are spoken by fans, like Klingon and Dothraki. Black Bolt’s sign language could join them, eventually, but not in season one.
“I don’t think it’s a complete language yet,” Mount said. “If the show goes a few seasons, it will [be]. We’re not there yet. If you asked me to do a sentence for you right now, I wouldn’t be able to do it. I would have to go to my room, sit down, open up my glossary, translate it and then work for about an hour to get it into my body.”
Since the language is definitely not ASL, Mount had to check ASL to make sure he wasn’t crossing over any of the same words. One or two couldn’t help but be similar.
“There may be one or two crossovers that I haven’t thought about,” Mount said. “There are some things that are pretty obvious, like ‘me’ and ‘now’ or ‘here.’ When it was something that was in my head, I want to make sure this is not a crossover, I would Google it and see.”
Medusa is the only other Inhuman who knows Black Bolt’s language. That doesn’t make her a reliable translator though. Sometimes she says whatever she wants and Black Bolt can’t speak up to correct her.
“[Writer] Scott [Buck] would intentionally have Medusa tweaking a line, and I didn’t realize that,” Mount said. “I would hear it and I would go, ‘Actually, that’s not the line.’ She’d go, ‘No, actually that is the line. You just didn’t read my part of the scene.’ So that was fun.”
Swan said the Medusa wig weighs four pounds. That doesn’t sound like much, but when you have to balance it on your head all day, and it’s pulling your neck down from the floor, that can cause some serious whiplash. That’s not even the hardest part, Swan said.
“[They] would always put it in a braid at lunch time, and I’d throw it over my shoulder like a little hair baby or do like a hair scarf,” Swan said. “If we were shooting in maybe Canada or Antarctica, it would be amazing because it would be a source of warmth. But when you’re shooting in Hawaii, the last thing you want is a hair blanket wrapped around you at all times.”
She’s not complaining though. “Honestly, when your struggle is carrying a Medusa wig for Marvel while shooting in Hawaii, you live with it,” Swan said.
When it’s not weighing her head down, Medusa’s hair comes to life and lashes out against attackers. The first time you get to see Medusa fight with her hair, Swan held perfectly still and let the hair do all the work.
“It’s not about her body anymore,” Swan said. “It’s more like her body becomes her spine and her hair becomes her arms. So when you fight, usually your spine goes quite rigid and it depends on where you go into a stance. For her, the stance is to support her hair because her hair is about to do magical spectacular things.”
That’s not Medusa’s only move though. You’ll see her spring into action too.
“There’s lots of other movements,” Swan continued. “She’s a trained fighter so it depends on what’s going on. In those specific scenes when she’s being attacked, she doesn’t see them as a complete threat. As you can tell, she just handles them one by one like this. If it were something that was an army or another race coming in, you would see a lot more movement from her. Whereas this was sort of like a joke to her.”
There’ve been many dark and gritty comic book movies, and the Marvel shows on Netflix, but this one is for kids. Tell a five-year-old that there are superheroes living on the moon, and that’s gonna make them happy.
“A lot of it is making the worlds of children just that much bigger and brighter,” Swan said. “It’s really incredible when you think about that. It’s a really unique opportunity to be able to bring that to them. It is magical hair that can fight people.”
But there are some scenes that require parental guidance. Medusa and Black Bolt have a love scene.
“Maybe skip the first five minutes if you’re a certain age and younger,” Swan said. “It’s done in a loving, playful way.”
Kids will love Lockjaw too. Mount says he provides the laughsk but is also pivotal in the story.
“The goofy sidekick is usually just there for comic relief,” Mount said. “What I love about this, is they found a way to make Lockjaw active in the plot because he’s so dim.”
The comic books were a great source of inspiration for the cast and creators of Inhumans, but from there they had to embellish.
“You’ve got to figure out how to do it for a different medium,” Mount said. “In TV you can’t linger on those gorgeous cells. TV keeps moving and TV has to be a little more grounded in our world. It was interesting watching that process of conversion.”
Marvel’s Inhumans premieres in IMAX theaters September 1 and begins its network run at 8 p.m. ET on September 29 on ABC.