Channel24 correspondent Rozanne Els attended a New York press conference where Anson Mount and Serinda Swan discussed their new show Inhumans.
New York - Let’s be honest. Marvel’s Inhumans sucks. If you are on the fence about it – highly doubtful – you only need to watch the recently released Thor: Ragnarok to put its mediocrity in the Marvel universe into perspective.
It was always going to be hard to transform Inhumans into a TV series, but Marvel’s publicity and marketing magicians certainly had us going for a while; to such an extent that it became one of the most anticipated TV debuts of the year. What’s more, it became the first ever TV mini-series to debut in IMAX theatres. Another first followed a couple of weeks later: It became the first series in the Marvel TV universe to tank. To its credit, it does redeem itself somewhat – and this I realised only after the premiere. The actors are hella dedicated.
During a press event with Anson Mount (Hell on Wheels) and Serinda Swan (also seen in Dwayne Johnson’s HBO series Ballers), the actors were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about the TV iteration of the comic whose characters debuted in 1965. Swan was especially enthusiastic, waxing lyrical about her audition and the phonecall that followed with words that changed her life: “Welcome to Marvel.”
ON PLAYING SUPERHEROES
Swan plays the role of Medusa, the queen to Black Bolt’s (Mount) king. Medusa’s abilities lie in her billowing mass of rapacious red hair which she can control and extend to lengths unknown. Swan’s wig, dubbed Wendy, splayed over almost 1.5 meters and weighing in at 1.8kg, proved to be quite challenging, she said. “I had to spend so many hours just standing in front of the mirror and practicing [facial expressions for] sad hair, angry hair. I would practice the fight physically with my arms so that I could feel how my body would move and then put my arms down so my hair would do it. My body became my spine to support my hair…You have to invent these new things when you come into a role like this,” Swan added.
It does sound a teeny bit ridiculous – “sad hair, angry hair” – but kudos for the effort.
She perceives her character’s strength as originating in her femininity. “I think a lot of the time superpowers are not gender-specific. One of the beautiful things about Medusa is that she keeps her femininity. What is considered beautiful or sexy about her, like her long hair, is actually where her power comes from.”
While Swan had to match her facial expressions to the mood and movement of her hair, Mount’s character never utters a word. His voice can kill people and destroy cities, you see.
The series centres on a coup, led by Maximus (Iwan Rheon) that separated the royal family, as well as the events that follow. If Rheon’s name sounds familiar, he is, of course, the same actor that played Game of Thrones’ supreme brute, Ramsay Bolton. This is where the story gets wonky – Maximus is presented as the bad guy; Black Bolt as the one viewers should root for. But Maximus is leading the downtrodden of the Inhumans, while Black Bolt represents the royal regime that took away their power. I mean, if there’s one thing a superhero show needs, it’s a friggin superhero.
ON CREATING A LANGUAGE
One of the biggest criticisms of the series has been that Mount doesn’t use real sign language, but a made-up one that only he and Swan understand. On the contrary, this is what Mount considers as one of his greatest challenges, and achievements, on the show.
“Jeph Loeb (head of Marvel TV) and I agreed that it had to be a real language,” said Mount. I had to know what I was saying as I was saying it. It meant developing a sign system of my own.” He borrowed some of the rules of ASL (American Sign Language) to make it more efficient and studied the movements of orchestra conductors, but it was mostly his own, he explained. Because Medusa acts as his translator, Swan decided she had to understand Mount’s made up sign language.
“A lot of thought went into it, so I wanted to make sure it was something that I honoured and not just speaking and going through the motions.” And for them as actors it was also something special, like a secret language, she adds.
Being part of a Marvel production is like being part of an actual royal family. Though the show’s acting isn’t nearly as admirable as their dedication and effort, it’s the writing and terrible special effects that ultimately make this show DOA. After Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and a steady supply of blockbuster movies, Inhumans just doesn’t cut it.
Catch Marvels Inhumans Saturdays at 20:00 on M-Net (DStv 101).
(Photos supplied M-Net)