Who Should Play Marvel’s Inhumans?

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The Inhumans are an odd bunch. Introduced back in a 1965 issue of The Fantastic Four at the peak of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s seemingly boundless appetite for creating fascinating, fully realized new cultures and worlds for the FF to explore, they’ve spent ensuing half century on the sidelines of Marvel’s biggest events. The Avengers are usually at the center. The X-Men are close by. And the Inhuman are just out of focus, generally concerned with their own goings-on.

In recent years, Marvel has ramped up efforts to bring The Inhumans out of the shadows, gearing them up for their big movie. At this point, it’s hardly a spoiler to say that their lore has become the major plot fulcrum of ABC’s Agents of SHIELD, but in the comics, the Inhumans always had more in common with Game of Thrones. They’re not just a team of heroes (like the Avengers), a school (like the X-Men) or a family (like the Fantastic Four). They’re an entire nation, and for all the super powers and glitzy costumes, their best stories are often fueled by political intrigue, royal family drama and high, Shakespearean theatrics.

It’s anyone’s guess how much of that will make it into 2018’s film, but that won’t stop us from guessing and offering our advice. For starters, here’s our dream cast of some of the Inhuman’s key players.

Black Bolt: Jon Hamm

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OK, elephant in the room: One of the worst kept secrets in all Hollywood right now is that Vin Diesel has already been cast as Black Bolt. If the rumor is true (and definitely is) it makes sense. Diesel’s voice was already put to use as Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy, but Black Bolt’s voice topples mountains and can set the Hulk flat on his back, which is why he stays perennially mute. Ergo, Marvel can get two characters out of one actor—one heard, but never seen. The other seen, but never heard.

Diesel could do it. Black Bolt is a king, and a king (especially a silent one) has to have presence, which is something Diesel figured out how to do a long time ago. But it does seem like there’s a bit of regality, a bit of pomp, that’s just a little outside of Diesel’s wheelhouse.

Imagine, if you will, a king with the weight of the world on his shoulders. A king who cannot speak, even to those he loves. A king who carries the responsibility of an endangered race of Inhumans. A king who bears the worries and fears of an entire culture driven underground (or, you know, to the Moon). The king sits on his throne, alone, his head in his hands as he struggles to figure out how to help his people.

In other words, this king is 100 percent Don Draper, and Jon Hamm is the obvious choice. Hamm can play pained desperation and crushing worry—combined with room-filling power and confidence—better than just about anybody. That’s why he gets our pick for Black Bolt.

Medusa: Kerry Washington

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“A character who can move her hair? Doesn’t seem all that tough,” is the last thing you’ll ever say to Medusa before she uses her hair to break your body in half. She’s one of the most formidable combatants in the Marvel canon, easily besting the likes of Iron Man with a flip of her super strong, bullet proof, prehensile locks. Whoever plays her should communicate that level of raw, fierce intimidation—and that person should be Kerry Washington. OK, yes. We’re switching the race here, and that always comes with a certain amount of hand-wringing but let’s be serious. Kerry Washington is one of the most electric actors working on television right now, and she has a strong, forceful bearing that perfectly matches the almost lethally intimidating personality of Medusa, wife of Black Bolt and queen of the Inhumans. Give her some CGI hair and let her go nuts, and this movie will be awesome.

Crystal: Tessa Thompson

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Medusa’s kid sister was, for many years, the most human of the Inhumans—acting as the sort of Juliet to their Capulets, forever pining for the outside world and being cursed by forbidden love—first to Johnny Storm, and then Quicksilver, whom she married. Her terrible taste in men aside (Quicksilver over Johnny? Come on.), she’s a bright spot in the Inhumans’ frequently dour existence.

Thompson’s been an interesting actor for a while now, making her mark in movies like Dear White People and Selma, as a strong-willed, fiercely independent but ultimately good-hearted life enthusiast. As a more accessible character than the grim, brooding Black Bolt and Medusa, Crystal is poised to be The Inhumans primary protagonist—the lens by which we normal humans observe the others. Thompson is up for that challenge.

Maximus: Iwan Rheon

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Maximus the Mad, the cousin of Black Bolt, is one of the most chilling and loathsome villains in the Marvel Universe—a diabolically evil, brilliantly conniving manipulator with the psionic ability to numb or even override the minds of others. Indeed, his own mental instability is one of the few things standing between him and his own desires for conquest and power.

It’s hard to stand out as being especially evil on Game of Thrones, a show that’s cornered the market on televised depictions of evil. But Iwan Rheon’s Ramsay Bolton has pulled it off. His Maximus would be dangerous, unsettling and capable of literally anything. It’s almost too perfect. Plus, he’d get to keep his clothes on for the entire filming process, which will be a nice change of pace for him!

Gorgon: Richard Armitage

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OK, yes, The Hobbit trilogy just was just not very good—especially compared to the wonder of The Lord of the Rings movies. However, that was not the fault of an exceptional cast, and Richard Armitage did a wonderful job of lending Thorin Oakenshield a gruff majesty. That would come in handy for Gorgon, the Inhuman’s primary muscle who has the unlikely but definitely useful power of stomping very, very hard (his stomps send crushing shockwaves.)

Triton: Rob Lowe

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Triton’s kind of like a pickup truck. You never really need a pickup truck until you need a pickup truck. Likewise, superheroes rarely need someone who can go underwater and withstand the crushing weight of the ocean at vast depths, but it’s always nice to have someone around who can. And in the Inhumans case, that person is Triton.

The voice is everything for this one, and Rob Lowe’s wry, lanky tones seem well suited to Triton’s grace and poise. Lowe’s become so well-known for his comedic timing lately that people forget how well he handled the sophisticated, articulate dialog of The West Wing for many years. It’s high time Lowe reminded us. (Just no “lit-tra-ly,” please. It’s over.)

Karnak: Matthew Rhys

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For a long time, Karnak was the odd Inhuman out—a character with no powers, a weird head and the same name as Johnny Carson’s fortune teller. That’s a tough life for anyone, let alone a member of a super powered royal family.

But in recent years, Marvel has pushed Karnak to the forefront of the Inhumans, even giving him his own, standalone title in the upcoming All-New, All-Different Marvel relaunch. It’s an interesting move, given Karnak’s tragic backstory. One of the few Inhumans with no Inhuman power, Karnak has instead devoted himself to constant training. He’s a master hand-to-hand combatant and a brilliant military strategist.

Matthew Rhys has been playing just that that sort of character for several years now over on the criminally underrated The Americans on FX. It’s baffling that he hasn’t been picked up for more films yet but, if Marvel’s smart, they’ve got their eye on him. This is his chance to shine.

Lockjaw: Beethoven

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The role he was born to play.

(All casting choices from the keen minds and fruitful imaginations of Ryan Hamm and Tyler Huckabee.)

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