Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Meet and Greet: Black Bolt, King of the Inhumans

Blackagar Boltagon, King of the Inhumans, is one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe. Get to know him here ahead of the November 2, 2018 Inhumans film!

As Marvel Studios continued to take chances and expand the reach of their cinematic universe, the introduction of the Inhumans was inevitable. Without film rights to mutants, Marvel was going to need to find someway to explain the existence of powers in some of their characters and, if the latest rumors are true, the Inhumans, their primed-to-evolve DNA and their Terrigen Mists will provide the necessary explanation.

If Marvel goes this route, the Inhumans story we are told may be something quite similar to the upcoming Inhuman comic blended with the rich history of the Inhumans and their core group of characters. Of that group of core characters, there is no one more important to unlocking an understanding of the Inhumans than their king: Black Bolt.

The Inhumans are the products of Kree experimentation on early humans in an effort to create a powerful race of human mutants that were to be used to help defeat the Skrulls, arch-enemies of the Kree Empire. Though their experiments were successful, the Kree abandoned the project in fear of a prophecy which foretold the coming of a destructive, genetic anomaly, leaving a group of genetically advanced humans who, over the course of time, withdrew from interactions with their less-advanced brothers and formed their own society.

The Inhuman society progressed quickly. Technological and scientific advances of which normal humans were incapable led to further evolution of the group as their scientists discovered the powers of the mutagenic Terrigen Mist, derived from Terrigen Crystals. For a time, all Inhumans were exposed to the mists and through the process their already mutated DNA further changed. In some cases, the exposure, called Terrigenesis, led to incredible powers; in most other cases,Terrigenesis led to horrific mutations. After a time, Terrigenesis was no longer given to all those with Inhuman DNA and was reserved only for those deemed to be genetically perfect.

Blackagar Boltagon, however, was an exception to this rule. While still a developing embryo in his mother Rynda's womb, his father, Agon, the preeminent member of the Inhuman Council of Genetics and ruler of the Inhumans, Blackagar was exposed to the the Terrigen Mists. Once born, Blackagar demonstrated incredible and destructive abilities to manipulate the energy around him. Of these abilities, his "quasi-sonic" scream is the most well-known, though Black Bolt eventually learned to channel the energy into concussive blasts, fly and do a number of other incredible things.

Unable to control these powers as a child, Black Bolt spent most of his first 19 years in a sound proof chamber where he learned to harness to powers, but more importantly to become the master of himself. While Black Bolt's powers are nearly unmeasurable, his self-control may be his most impressive asset. A whisper from his lips, even in his sleep, has the power to take down a space ship. The shockwaves from his voice, at full strength, would unleash destruction on the scale of a nuclear explosion. As Black Bolt mastered his powers, he found himself capable of telepathy and even some degree of mind control. The pre-natal exposure also greatly altered Black Bolt's physical attributes. While all Inhumans are bigger, faster and stronger than humans, Black Bolt is physically superior to all Inhumans in almost every way. It is believed that Black Bolt is indeed the genetic anomaly prophesied by the Kree.

Shortly after his introduction into Inhuman society, Black Bolt discovered his younger and envious brother, Maximus, entering into a treasonous agreement with the Kree with whom the Inhumans were at war. While Maximus had often failed to make Black Bolt break his vow of silence and use his voice, his actions against his own people proved to be the proper catalyst. As the Kree attempted to escape, Black Bolt unleashed his scream for the first time, destroying their ship. As the ship and its debris rained down onto the Earth, both of Black Bolt's parents were crushed beneath it. Maximus, having been in such close proximity to his brother, suffered considerable damage to his brain, losing both his sanity and the use of his manipulative, telepathic abilities. With his parents dead, Black Bolt reluctantly became the young king of the Inhumans.

As king of the Inhumans, Black Bolt has faced, as you might imagine, the gamut of tests both internally and externally during his reign. While his brother Maxiums has been the catalyst of the majority of the internal strife, everyone from the humans to the Kree to the Shi'ar have been in conflict with the Inhumans and their king. Black Bolt, and the rest of the Inhumans, inhabit the city of Attilan. Attilan is a massive city, enclosed in a sphere and capable of travel through space and it has done quite a bit of traveling over the years.

Though his plans and designs are often held in secret with only his wife, Queen Medusa, or his brother, Maxiums, in the know, Black Bolt does depend on the Inhuman Royal family to help him as he cuts a path through the universe for the Inhumans. The Royal Family consists of those with familial ties to the king and queen, all ancestors of the earliest and most genetically perfect Inhumans. Queen Medusa has long served as the spokesperson for the kingdom as her husband relays his wishes to her telepathically. Despite his treachery, Black Bolt's brother Maximus serves as a member of the Royal Family and has, especially recently, played a huge role in keeping the Inhumans safe. Gorgon, Karnak and Triton, all cousins of Black Bolt and Maximus, are a part of the Royal Family, each serving a clearly defined role. Medusa's sister, Crystal, also serves as a member of the Royal Family and has played a huge role in settling differences between the Kree and Inhumans through her marriage to Ronan the Accuser. The final member of the Inhuman Royal Family is the family dog, Lockjaw, a huge bulldog with the ability to teleport himself and the Royal Family anywhere.
The Inhuman Royal Family (L to R): Triton, Gorgon, Karnak, Black Bolt, Medusa and Crystal

The Inhuman Royal Family is, on a smaller scale, representative of Inhuman life. The Inhumans have a very strict caste system in which members are placed following their Terrigenesis. Each member of the Royal Family, while all very powerful and capable of many things, serves Black Bolt in the way he feels best and while they are not always happy with Black Bolt's decisions, especially Gorgon, they have always (with the exception of Maximus) done what has been ordered by their king, even when they were in the dark.

Black Bolt reign as king of the Inhumans has seen them rise to prominence and out of the shadow of the other great alien races. An incredible strategist, Black Bolt has taken on all challenges with an uncanny knack to think several steps ahead of his opponents. Several times, facing what seemed to be sure defeat, Black Bolt's designs were revealed to have already anticipated the moves of his enemies. While his means have always been questioned, the end game has always resulted in what he believes is best for his people. Whether that has been moving locations, allowing people to think the Inhumans have been destroyed or, most recently, destroying their floating city of Attilan and unleashing the Terrigen Mists above New York City, exposing the entire population of the Earth to their effects, Black Bolt's plans have always succeeded. Though capable of ending almost every conflict by uttering a single word, Black Bolt has rarely used the incredible power of his voice during battle.

While bringing his people to their rightful place in the Cosmos, Black Bolt has also secretly served alongside the other heavy hitters of the Marvel Universe as a member of the Illuminati/New Avengers. This group has determined the fate and course of men for years and Black Bolt's presence on the team only serves to further illustrate just how powerful and highly respected he is. 

The recent exposure of all of humanity to the Terrigen Mists has caused a massive spike in the number of Inhumans as anyone with even a shred of Inhuman DNA can potentially be mutated by the Mists. This has broken the tradition of exposing only those deemed fit and caused a nationwide epidemic in which both heroes and monsters have been turned loose.

The place of the Inhumans in the MCU is uncertain. If Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are, as rumored, the result of Terrigenesis or Inhumans by birth, it certainly puts a little twist on the classic Marvel take on the Inhumans. However, the current draft of the Inhumans film is described as similar in tone and structure to Game of Thrones, so it may play out that we first meet some transformed humans before we meet Black Bolt and the Royal Family. It's very likely that some of the plot of The Inhumans will deal with the issues in the upcoming comic title, Inhuman, which follows the outbreak of new Inhumans on the Earth after the destruction of Attilan. I imagine an Inhuman film would have plenty of time for some detailed exposition on the Inhumans and how they came about; it could easily take place in a split time line.

When the film is cast, choosing an actor to portray Black Bolt will provide a unique challenge. The main character of the film must remain silent, except for the internal dialogue we'd likely hear. The actor who plays Black Bolt must be able to communicate power, grace, dignity and superiority through his body language alone. Fancasting often puts Vin Diesel in the role and given the "merging of brands" comment he made in reference to a future project with Marvel and his more recent Facebook tease it's easy to associate his role with the name. When I first hear of Aaron Eckhart and Marvel's joint wish to work together, it was easy to see his recognizable chin jutting out from beneath the mask of the Midnight King, but it seems that all signs point to Diesel landing the role.

If you're a fan of the comics and/or the MCU and you aren't familiar with The Inhumans already, you're going to become familiar with them VERY soon. They are going to continue to be front and center in the comics and they have seemingly begun to be introduced through Agents of S.H.I.E.L. D. while rumors persist that the Maximoff twins in Avengers: Age of Ultron will have some connection to them as well. Get ready to meet one of the best hidden secrets in the Marvel Universe and to see another sibling rivalry on par with Thor and Loki!