"Inhumans" at Comic-Con '17: Marvel Takes on TV and IMAX!
Written by Sarah Osman
Marvel and ABC have teamed up once again to bring you another superhero series! “Inhumans”, which is based on the comic books of the same name, centers around the Inhuman Royal Family, who possess superpowers (with the exception of Maximus, played by Iwan Rheon) and happily live on the Moon. Yet their peaceful lives are short-lived. After a military coup, they are forced to relocate to Hawaii, where they have to protect themselves and the people of Earth. “Inhumans” is essentially a family drama, with the most conflict around brothers Maximus, who is against the societal structures of his world, and his brother Black Bolt (Anson Mount). The other members of the royal family have some pretty cool powers, specifically Black Bolt’s wife Medusa (Serinda Swan), whose hair has a mind of its own (I relate to this). My favorite is their giant dog, Lockjaw. Check out the crew in action:
“Inhumans” will premiere at the end of September, but first it’s going to make a pit stop in IMAX theaters for two weeks. While you anxiously wait for the Royal Family to land, you can learn a bit more about them. During Comic-Con, the cast and crew filled me in on their characters, the challenges of working with a giant CGI dog, and why you should check it out in IMAX:
YH: Can you tell us a bit about your characters and how is it to be a part of this show?
Mike Moh (Triton):I play Triton. I’m the green guy with the fish-like features. I’m a close confidant to the Royal family. I’m kind of like the recon guy for Black Bolt. Anything that needs to be done that is stealth and cunning, I’m the guy that they go to. I’m fiercely loyal to my family and my King. I’m freaking out right now. I’m fanboying this whole weekend. I’m standing over there thinking, “Do they see that I’m in this photo?” It’s such a great cast. It’s been incredible.
Sonya Balmores (Auran):I am the head of the Royal Guard. I work really closely with the Queen and King. This experience has been amazing. It’s my first Comic-Con. I’m now a part of the Marvel cinematic universe, so I’m thrilled!
Ellen Woglom (Louise):My character doesn’t have any powers. She is sort of the eyes and ears for the audience. We’ll come to learn about this world through her, which I think grounds the show. She works for the aerospace company. She’s incredibly bright and driven, but she’s a little socially inept. She speaks before she thinks. She’s a lot of fun. I think she’s an endearing character and she was a lot of fun to play.
YH: One of the characters, Maximus, has been described as a “Trump-like character”. Was he purposely based on him?
Roel Reine (director):No, no no. I think what we were looking for is that there is now a modern feel where politics is going, and we’re not only talking about America, we are also talking about globally. I’m from Holland, and you also see it in Holland and in Europe. There’s a lot of questioning around identity. What is your identity, and why do you belong to that? How do you find your identity? I think that’s the theme we are tapping into. I think the questions that Maximus as a character asks is all about acceptance. It’s questioning racism and prejudice. He’s the only human in an inhuman royal family. It’s his struggle being a human and being in a lower caste.
YH: How was modern-day politics incorporated into the show?
Scott Buck (Executive Producer):We do live in the current world, and what happens with our characters is that they are forced to flee the Moon and come to Earth, where they are basically refugees. We’re not trying to hammer in a sort of political ideal, but we do know that the state of our world has many refugees, and that they are very controversial. It’s just the world we live in right now. It felt very comparable to do this story.
YH: If your characters were to come to Comic-Con, who would they cosplay as?
MM: What? [laughs] I think I would just come as myself. Just a green, mean, half-naked fish man. It would just be normal for Comic-Con.
SB: I would come as Red Sonja.
YH: Ken, you filmed “Lost” in Hawaii, and “Inhumans” is shot in Hawaii as well. What’s it like being back there?
Ken Leung (Karnak):It’s amazing. I’m a dad now. I wasn’t when I was there for “Lost”. I got to bring my wife and my son and introduce our kid to the island that we grew to love. It’s been really beautiful.
YH: Iwan, you tend to play villains. Is there a reason you go for these types of roles?
IR: I’ve played one villain, really. With Maximus, it depends on how you look at him. If you listen to the ideas he has and the political ideology he’s proposing, you might agree with him. I don’t think he’s evil in any way at all. He feels that he’s part of a very archaic society with a caste system that is wrong. The people at the bottom live a very terrible life so that the Royal family can live in luxury. If you read that, you would agree with him. He’s a forward-thinking guy, and he sees that there is a huge danger with the humans. He has a very opposing opinion to what Black Bolt has, thus there is great conflict between the two brothers, which is really the heart of the story.
YH: Anson, how was it creating your own sign language for Black Bolt?
AM: The actual creation/translation part of it wasn’t that difficult because it was me making it up. However, getting it into the muscle memory of my body was a learning process. It was hard to learn to let go of the mind/mouth connection and turn it into a mind/hand connection. I actually felt a difference between the beginning and the end of the season. It was a little bit like learning how to operate a horse on set. It’s a skill, just like anything else. There’s actually a glossary I created of the language.
SS: There are actual words. He would send me videos of his monologues. I would get the video, and I would learn it. When you watch the show, you will see that there is a word for humans, there’s a word for trains, and it’s not just like the basic words, there’s translations for full-on sentences. It’s incredible to see it. It really is a language.
YH: How long does the make-up for your characters take?
MM: It takes about 3-to-5 hours every time. I had the earliest call time. One time a van picked me up at 1:15 in the morning, and I had to film all day. But we have a great team. We have a lot of weird, random conversations to fill those hours.
SB: And good music. They always have good music.
YH: What is it like filming with Lockjaw?
SB: Last night was the first time I saw any of the visual effects, and it’s amazing. When we’re doing scenes with Lockjaw, we just have to use our imagination. With Lockjaw, there’s nothing there. It’s just this big, styrofoam statue. You’re just acting against a statue. It’s rewarding to know that it’s coming together and it looks so good!
MM: When we saw the trailer, we knew that Lockjaw would be everyone’s favorite character. We have no chance against him. I got a Lockjaw plushy for my three kids to share, and I know they’re going to fight over it.
Isabelle Cornish (Crystal): We use a lot of CGI, which means we have a lot of creativity. Lockjaw is a big part of my character, because Crystal is the keeper of Lockjaw. He’s invisible when we shot, but then he will be CGI'd in. A lot of my powers are CGI as well.
YH: What were some of the challenges of filming with Lockjaw and Medusa’s hair?
RR: Those challenges were huge. We all knew the pressure we had to the schedule, so it was nerve-wracking. What made it even more nerve-wracking was the shots that I designed. I made it even more complicated because I was doing a lot of stuff in one shot. All of these things made it even more complicated. But we have seven wonderful production houses around the world, and they are working day and night right now to get the visual effects. For us, creating Medusa’s hair was the most difficult, while Lockjaw was just a blast. When you see him on an IMAX screen, it’s just like holy s**t! And I don’t think there’s ever been a full CGI character on TV before. It’s pretty cool.
YH: Serinda, tell us a bit about the Medusa effects.
SS: I saw it for the first time last night as well. It is such a huge feat they are taking on. I don’t think anyone has ever had to do human hair in that capacity. It’s incredible. I had to trust, and I had to learn how to "hact", which is hair-act. It was all about finding the normalcy of what she would have grown up with. When it came to fighting, I used it as a limb. When you fight, everything tightens. So I had to figure out how to do that with just my body, specifically my spine. I was so blown away when I saw it!
AM: You did such an amazing job. I would have been eyebrow-acting all the way!
SS: It was hard not to. The first time I stood in the mirror I thought, “Okay, angry hair.” I realized that was “angry face.” If you recorded me doing it, you would have thought I was crazy.
YH: What is the IMAX component like? It’s not only a TV show, it’s also a movie!
SB: It’s a shovie! It’s a show and a movie!
MM: We saw it in IMAX last night and it’s one thing seeing it on a normal screen, but seeing it in IMAX, it really proves that bigger is better. I can’t wait to take my family and friends to my local theater in Wisconsin and show it to them.
SB: Besides the visuals, there’s the sound, and it just shakes your heart. The action, the sound, the quality of the IMAX cameras, it’s amazing!
Eme Ikwuakor (Gorgon):I love being a part of this project. I love taking chances. You felt that on set, that this was something bigger. We had such a talented team working on this project. This project had some of the most beautiful shots I’ve ever seen in my life.
KL: After last night, I have a feeling that it didn’t feel quite like a TV show or a film. It feels like its own thing. It’s new. It’s hard to categorize this. I think that’s exciting.
YH: Why should one watch the premiere in IMAX if it’s going to be on TV in a couple of months?
Greg Foster (IMAX Entertainment CEO):You’re getting a perspective that you can’t get anywhere else. This was filmed with our cameras, so it was designed for the IMAX experience. When you go to an IMAX theater, you’re literally transported into another world. We wanted to create this other world. It’s also exclusively only in IMAX, not in all theaters. We’re limiting the supply to hopefully increase the demand. It’s also only in IMAX for two weeks, and then it’s gone.
RR: With TV, it’s going really wrong. The TV series are getting richer and more intense, and people are watching it on their cell phones. It’s really bad. You cannot get any form of emotion off of such a small screen. With the IMAX release, you can really be a part of it. You can feel the emotion and smell the locations. That’s what’s so great about the IMAX release.
Be sure to check out “Inhumans” when it comes to IMAX theaters!