Inhumans teaser

The Inhumans are an odd bunch. While making my way over to Honolulu, Hawaii to visit the set of the latest Marvel show along with other bloggers and reporters, I enjoyed the oddities of Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee‘s take on Marvel’s Royal family midair. Perhaps it wouldn’t translate to the most accessible or financially responsible series, but the comics (and the family contained within) went to some fantastical, out-of-this-world territory. The ABC series is still set out of this world, at least partially, but is looking to ground the genetically super-powered characters. But they’re initially going big, though, by shooting the first two episodes on IMAX cameras.

Below, check out our Inhumans set visit report.

Inhumans set visit view

Welcome to the City of Attilan 

The city is the main residence of the royal family. It’s changed locations many times in the comics, once floating above the Kree capital city. In the television show, they’re all happily living on the moon, unseen by the people of Earth. The city is home to the royal family, Blackbolt (Anson Mount) and his wife, Medusa (Serinda Swan), as seen above in their home – a set where everything feels in the right place, not one inch away from where it’s supposed to be. They’re the King and Queen of Attilan until Black Bolt is betrayed by his brother Maximus (Iwan Rheon).

Art director Adam Davis explained how they designed the world and sets around the characters:

The city of Attilan is on the moon. It’s surrounded by a protective energy shield in the shape of a cone. We chose the shape for a number of reasons. The energy field has the ability on the outside to protect imagery of the moon crater, to camouflage in. On the inside, we’ve designed it in such a way it can project imagery of Earth, like clouds, palm trees, sunsets, and things like that. Rather than doing a dome, we chose the cone primarily because one of our main characters, Blackbolt…because of the Terrigenesis ceremony he went through, his voice is like his weapon. We’ve centered the main space he’s in, which is called Quiet Room, and it’s directly below the apex of the cone. What happens is, if he accidentally produces any sonic waves, the waves are redirected up the side of the cone and out the apex into outer space.

Blackbolt and Medusa’s apartment has a view of the entire city. When they’re lying in bed, the city of Attilan is in view. The apartments are sparse, with only essentials. There’s a slightly futuristic yet quaintly old-fashioned quality to the sets. The Royal Hall, for example, has statues of Inhuman ancestors looking like they belong in a Greek swords-and-sandal epic, not on the moon. A lot of the surfaces are reflective, too, whether in one of the characters’ apartments or the hall.

Inhumans comics

Looking to the Comics

The Inhumans were originally introduced in the pages of Fantastic Four back in 1968. They’re not as grounded as, say, the X-Men or other superhero teams. Even the powers are out-of-the-box, like Medusa’s deadly hair or Blackbolt’s all powerful voice (he’ll communicate on the show through some sign language). A whisper from Blackbolt could wipe out an entire city. Many viewers won’t be familiar with their storylines or backstories, which provided showrunner Scott Buck (Dexter) a certain degree of freedom:

It’s a little more fun for me as a writer when I feel the backstory isn’t all worked out. I think these characters have been around since ’64 or ’65. When you go back and look at those first Inhumans, it’s a completely different comic from what it developed into later. We were able to pick what was the best and most interesting aspects of these characters. Some of the characters themselves have changed fundamentally from series to series. Having that ground of different versions of the Inhumans allowed us to think, “Well, why did they do this when that time they did this? What’s going to work better for us?” Also, if nothing particularly appealed to us, we could create what we wanted – but stay true to the Royal Family.

The sets we saw had a distinctly different feel from some of the comics. Maybe not as colorful, and more concrete and dark. Most of the show’s color comes from Earth. The environments and sets weren’t heavily drawn from the comics, according to Adam Davis:

We read the comics. They kind of give you some information, but doesn’t necessarily describe the visual language, right? It’s all very broad strokes, like you’re going into the control room and a thought bubble. It’s not really defined. It’s kind of like storyboards. When you get storyboards early on when you’re doing films, you come and the door is always that and the wall is always that. That, in essence, is the same thing for comic books.

Lockjaw adorable

Lockjaw is a Big Boy

They created large entrances so Lockjaw can walk freely into spaces. Crystal’s dog got bigger and bigger early on – eventually ending up the size of a Mini Cooper. Crystal, by the way, is Medusa’s sister and the youngest member of the Royal Family. The sets do have a lot of room, partially for fight scenes and the 2,000-pound teleporting dog. Director Roel Reiné (The Man with the Iron Fists 2) said the pup was one of his biggest concerns:

Lockjaw was one of the characters that made us all very nervous because it needs to be really, really good. We fought in the prep to get the best house to do this, and Double Negative is the best how to do creatures. They’re making Lockjaw for us. It was a really big deal for me to get the best house to do this thing because it needs to be IMAX quality, big scope thing. And it’s huge. If you’re doing a creature that’s kind of flying in the distance or is very small, it’s different. It’s not a big-size dog on the side of the characters.

Everyone involved in Inhumans we talked to seemed delighted the most by Lockjaw. At one point, they showed some pre-vis of the character, with him walking and playing. In the early animations, he was taller than a car.

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