Sunday, December 14, 2014

I Find Myself Wondering...Ch-Ch-Changes

Marvel's unprecedented reveal on the mid-season finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has gotten my wheels spinning...

This will include spoilers for Tuesday's mid-season finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so proceed with caution unless you have seen the episode or don't mind being spoiled.

Much to the surprise of nearly no hardcore comic fans, Marvel introduced Terrigenesis to its cinematic universe, not only changing Skye and Raina in ways that are not yet entirely clear but also changing the landscape and dynamic of the entire shared universe.

To be clear, I was in no way, shape or form surprised to see the concept of an Inhuman civilization hinted at on the show (in many ways, only hardcore fans or people who have been reading up know what's going on as they still haven't used the word Inhuman or explained what happened to Skye and Raina on Tuesday). The thoughts began in my head as soon as Skye accepted the GH-325 without incident and the episodes since then have provided plenty of evidence to continue to scaffold that idea in my head.

At first I thought she'd be Jessica Jones or Jessica Drew, but not much about either one of those characters made sense. The one thing I liked about the possibility of her being Jessica Drew (despite not being even remotely clear on live-action rights), was that the character's past as an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. would fit. However, I ruled both of those out because ultimately, it made no sense for her to be either of those characters. I moved on and admittedly, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out which Inhuman character Skye would ultimately become, until I realized she wouldn't become any of them. Despite plenty of fan theories out there that she'd be Crystal or even Medusa, there was just no way.

So I found myself balancing two seemingly opposing ideas in my head: an Inhuman AND and Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. There are no characters that really fit that description. Fortunately for me, I've been reading the comics like mad lately and I was able to start to figure out a little more about what was going to happen: in the MCU, Terrigenesis was going to become the explain-away for people with powers. Skye didn't have to be an existing Inhuman, she just had to be an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. with powers. About the time Kyle McLaughlin was added to the cast as Skye's dad, "the doctor", I was done thinking. Skye needed to be an agent with superpowers whose dad was a doctor...yeah, that's Daisy Johnson alright.

 By the time the season 2 started, I was sure that's where it was headed and nothing about any of the episodes made me change my mind; in fact, they only helped me feel certain (I mean the last episode was titled, "What They Become", if you didn't think something was going to happen to Skye and Raina, you weren't paying attention). The point of this is, I was not surprised by seeing Skye and Raina undergo Terrigenesis during the last act of the episode. What I did NOT see coming, however, was the post-credit reveal of another "Diviner" full of Terrigen Crystals in the hands of another full-blown Inhuman and it's this point that has made me wonder just how much this reveal may impact the MCU.

Whoever the eyeless Inhuman was (lots of folks think he'll be the MCU version of The Reader), he had another batch of Terrigen Crystals AND he was on the phone with someone else who had a batch of Terrigen Crystals. Apparently the Diviners (just a word for the box that holds the crystals) get active when other crystals are used, indicating that Terrigenesis has gone on somewhere. This is interesting from the standpoint that we might potentially meet a whole slew of Inhumans before we are ever introduced to the Inhuman Royal Family, which couldn't be any more different than how it went in the comics.

What Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. seems to be hinting at is a loose affiliation of Inhumans existing in secret across the Earth that might not have any connection to the Inhuman Royal Family. Without that connection to the Royal Family, who hold ALL the actual history of the Inhumans, it's possible that what we might have is a group of Inhumans who do not know exactly who/what they are. Another possibility is that among their group is someone who left Attilan, the home of the Royal Family, therefore they'd know exactly who/what they are. Comic book writer Jonathan Hickman set up this idea in the 2013 crossover event Infinity when he introduced the city of Orrolan, Greenland where a "lost tribe" of Inhumans had lived for a thousand years and held and held the Royal Family in disgust.

Either of those options is cool with me, but what really makes me wonder is just how many Inhumans are on Earth and how many more are going to be revealed and just what their proliferation of numbers might mean to the Earth and to the universe. For this to make sense, there needs to be some context of exactly what the Inhumans are and some consideration of just how closely the MCU-Inhumans will resemble their comic book counterparts.

The Inhumans are the result of Kree experimentation on primitive humans. The Kree hoped their work on the humans would illuminate them on why their own evolutionary process had stagnated (humans had only begun to evolve and develop the potential invested in them by the Celestials) and to use the modified humans as weapons against the Skrulls in their centuries old war. After a threatening prophecy was revealed that endangered the Kree themselves, they stopped their work on the humans and left Earth, leaving behind a group of incredibly advanced humans with alien technology: the Inhumans.

So while the Inhumans are NOT alien, they are the product of alien science and a potential threat to the Kree. As someone who likes to wonder, I wonder how the Kree might respond to a sudden exponential increase in the numbers of the Inhumans IF, as in the comics, they have a reason to fear that their playing God will come back to haunt them (even advanced alien races can't seem to figure that one out). Almost all of that really depends on how the Inhumans fit in the grand scheme of things, but if there's some similar concern about the Inhumans by the Kree Empire and they found out about a rapidly increasing number of super-powered beings on Earth, they might be interested in checking it out.

That's a really interesting connection to me because it lines up nicely with more than one line of thought from the comics. One of the reasons that Earth is so frequently targeted by aliens (Thanos, Skrulls and Kree) is its anomalous concentration of super-powered beings. It's obvious the Kree are behind the Inhumans and, as Nick Fury told us at the end of Avengers, the whole universe is now aware of what's going on Earth. I wonder just how aware the Kree are of what's going on back in their little science lab and if they might not want to check it out. I wonder if they might be so interested that they wouldn't send someone to investigate. If so, that'd line up nicely with the introduction of the original Captain Marvel.

Mar-Vell was sent to Earth by the Kree to investigate the growing number of super-powered beings and bring back enough information to help the Kree Supreme Intelligence determine if the Earth posed a threat to their galactic empire. Mar-Vell came to sympathize with the people of Earth, was branded a traitor, escaped and became a hero of Earth and ally to the Avengers and deeply connected to Carol Danvers Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel origins. I'm not suggesting that Marvel Studios is going that route by any means, but Carol does have to gain her powers somewhere and just seems like not introducing Mar-Vell would leave out all kinds of cool stuff (Phyla-Vell for one) AND take another hero off the board that could actually help in the fight against Thanos.

I know that Marvel Studios initially thought about adding Carol to Cap's team at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron before giving her own solo film AND that they are steering away from doing full-on origin stories in their new films, but I just can't wrap my head around how Carol comes to be Captain Marvel if there is no Mar-Vell and it really doesn't take much to make it happen. Get an actor locked in to guest star as whatever version of "Walter Lawson" would fit the MCU profile, have him set up to appear in the second half of Season 2 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., have him working closely with S.H.I.E.L.D. in a role that has him examining the newly powered up Inhumans, but also give him a reason to be sympathetic towards the Earth and its inhabitants (I wonder if something like that might have already happened). Maybe even let him do some work saving the team before the season is over, setting up a little greater role in the future. I don't know what Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is going to be about, but I've wondered before if it might not see the Guardians going up against the Kree Empire and, if so, it might be nice to have some help from a Kree soldier.

Of course, these are just some things I wonder and I don't, by any means, expect them to come to fruition. If I knew what Marvel was going to do in the future, I wouldn't be on here writing for free. However, I do know Marvel likes to remind us how it's all connected so it's not 100% crazy to think that since we know there are brown-skinned Kree that Blair Underwood's Andrew Garner could be one who has been on Earth spying on things for a while, but I can't say that's the case. While Underwood is by no means a bad actor, I'd imagine someone with some more shabang would end up in the role of Mar-Vell IF there was even such a role to be had.

Now for something else entirely. I REALLY wonder just who/what we'll find out Raina is. I'm truly fascinated by the idea that she might actually be Raina from the comics, a rather nondescript character from the Savage Land. To be honest, I'm not interested in her being Raina, but in the concept of the Savage Land coming to the MCU. I wonder if, in some sense, it might not prove to be a mixture of the comic book Savage Land and the city of Orrolan I mentioned above, acting as a refuge for our "lost tribe" of Inhumans. While it seems that the rights to the Savage Land should reside at FOX, it's become clear over the past couple of years that there are many more grey areas in the live-action rights than it first appeared making it possible that the Savage Land could reside at FOX, at Marvel Studios or at both. Again, it's just something I wonder and something that could make for a very interesting arc and continue to back-build the history of the MCU with mythology and mystery. Probably not something we're going to see, but it is something I wonder.

Finally, I wonder what will become of Daisy Johnson going forward. She became a very high-ranking member of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the comics and acted as Fury's right hand leading a team of super-powered individuals during Hickman's incredibly cool Secret Warriors, an arc that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has adapted freely over its two seasons. While it's hard to imagine Chloe Bennett sharing the screen with Robert Downey Jr. and crew, I wonder if she may not make an appearance in both Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War deepening the connection of everything and setting up further arcs for future seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Interestingly, the team Daisy led was made up of some super-powered heroes with ties to existing MCU characters and potential ties to some that will be coming up shortly. While at one point it looked like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would lucky to get a second season, it's becoming much more probable that the show could carry on in some form for a few more seasons and that Daisy/Quake could play a huge role going forward.

There you have it, all my wonderings (ramblings) laid out non-coherently. What have you all been wondering?