Are the “Inhumans” in the Marvel Cinematic Universe the new “Mutants”?

This week’s most recent episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. left us with a lot of un-answered questions, and one huge question answered; namely is Skye an inhuman? The answer is an unequivocal yes.

By the way, I couldn’t stand most of Season 1. I watched the first six or so episodes, but I detest “Monster of the Week” style shows even more than I love Joss Whedon. But my wife kept on watching and by the end of Season 1 she had gotten me onboard again. Season 2, I must say, is much better.

What follows is, obviously, some spoilers.

Just a brief recap: by the end of Season 1 we learn that agent Coulson was brought back to life using technology and some blood from a deceased Kree. In season 2 we learn that Skye having also been injected with this blood… serum… whatever does not seem to go crazy like Coulson and others did. Coulson surmises that this is because Coulson had a negative reaction to the serum whereas Skye’s body did not reject it.

The rest of the season is spent searching for a device called a “Diviner” and a lost alien city. Skye meets her father, who tries to convince her to use the Diviner to transform. Through a series of mishaps this happens, and Skye is trapped in a room holding the Diviner as the credits roll.

Pretty good cliffhanger. All season I’ve been waiting to find out what Skye was. It was quietly confirmed in December that Skye was in fact Quake, a character from the main Marvel Comic book Universe. The hint was from a Season 2 Episode “Ye who enter here” where Skye has a dream about someone singing to her the song “Daisy Bell”. Later on in the Series Skye’s father confirms that her name is in fact “Daisy”.

Last week’s episode “Aftershocks” shows the aftermath of Skye’s transformation. In short: she can create earthquakes.

So who is “Quake”?

I’ll be honest, I’ve not been that huge of a fan of Quake in the comics, so I had to do a bit of research. Quake is a superhuman who works for shield. Her father is the supervillain Mr. Hyde. As her moniker suggests, she has the power to create earthquakes.
Now originally it was assumed that Quake was a mutant. Her powers manifested without any known energy bombardment or drinking a serum or anything else external; they just emerged. This typically happens to mutants: some are born with their powers, others don’t get them until puberty (or their powers get worse).
However, that might not be the case. Recently however, Nick Fury postulates that her powers result from genetic damage passed on by her father, making her not strictly a mutant. To further muddle the waters, Tom Brevoort had this to say on the matter:

Now, it’s possible that Zabo did earlier experimentation on himself on the road to becoming Hyde and that genetic damage was passed on to Daisy.
Or it’s possible that there’s more going on here than first meets the eye.

The point of this article is that, whatever Daisy Johnson is, in either the main comics universe or the MCU, she’s not a mutant.

No Mutants in the MCU?

Marvel is having a pretty big feud with Fox right now about the rights to X-Men. The X-Men are of course Mutants. Typically in the Marvel Universe, when a new superhuman shows up, most people assume this individual is a mutant until shown otherwise. This makes it easy for the creative team: you don’t need to come up with some “gamma ray” explanation every time you make a new superhuman.

However, the rights for X-Men give Fox the right to use a lot of characters who are mutants because they were associated with the X-Men in some way, as most mutants are eventually. Marvel is so mad at Fox that they are no longer allowing new X-Men to be created, and have completely cancelled Fantastic 4 to which Fox also owns the rights.

This creates a bit of a problem for Marvel. We know that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch (both mutants) are appearing in the next Avengers film. Both are also key players in the Avengers mythology, so the choice makes a lot of sense. But do they have to be mutants?

Marvel could be using the Inhumans, another race of super-powered humans to take the creative place that genetic mutations do in the comic book universe. For the purposes of storyline this may not cause a huge problem in general: the MCU version of several superheroes may be Inhumans rather than mutants.

Keep in mind that none of the individuals in MCU are currently mutants. Their powers are either technological, alien, due to genetic manipulation, etc… but none until Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver have been mutants.

What are Inhumans?


The short version is that a group of aliens, the Kree (Ronan from Guardians of the Galaxy is a Kree) came to earth thousands of years ago and performed genetic experiment on our human ancestors. The Kree abandoned their test subjects, however, and went on to form their own society. The Inhumans are more technologically advanced than humans, and if exposed to Terrigen Mists will undergo a process called Terrigenesis giving them super powers.

Like mutants, their DNA is mutated. Like mutants, each individual gains different powers, some are changed physically, others in more subtle ways. Like mutants the Inhumans must learn to control their new powers.

Skye is an Inhuman. Her father is not. But what was her mother?

Skye’s mother has only been shown in flashbacks. She died shortly after Skye was born. I won’t go into the details of this as it’s a mostly separate storyline, but I do want to mention that Skye’s mother is portrayed by the incredible actress Dichen Lachman. She’s starred in Dollhouse, the 4th season of Torchwood and also in The 100.
We first see Jiaying, Skye’s mother, in a flashback shortly after the end of World War II. She is forced to touch a Diviner by Daniel Whitehall (a hydra operative) before he is captured. In 1989 he is released and his hydra connections bring her to him: un-aged. When I first saw this I assumed that she was either a mutant, or that she was herself an alien hybrid.
Whitehall harvested Jiaying’s organs and blood and transplanted them into himself to make him young because… science.
Last week’s episode opened with a scene in which Jiaying was comforting a recently transformed individual named Gordon. She then remarks to another man named Yat-Sen that although she aged slowly she was not immortal, and that there would need to be another who would help the recently transformed after they had been exposed to the mists. I wanted to write about this little easter egg right after I saw it, correctly assuming that Skye was in fact an Inhuman and not a mutant, but I didn’t have time.
Now a few things can be gleamed from this scene. Although both Jiaying and her companion appeared both to be of Chinese ethnicity, the boy they were helping in this scene was Caucasian. This is important because in the comics the Inhumans are a very closely regulated society rules by a king and overseen by a genetic council; this helps to prevent certain genetic lines breeding so much that they become out of control. We also know that Marvel is planning a film, Inhumans and we can presume that this film will follow the Attilan based Inhumans led by Black Bolt.
So then, is Jiaying a member of a rogue Inhuman clan that escaped the strictly controlled society of Attilan? Or is the MCU’s version of Inhumans a far less regulated society allowing interbreeding with regular humans.
This seems more likely. It appears that there are multiple Inhumans, or people with Inhuman traits, roaming around the world. We also know that Raina is another Inhuman; both her and Gordon were not of the same ethnicity as Jiaying and Yat-Sen, so it appears likely that rather than Jiaying being from a rogue tribe of Inhumans she was instead collecting them from around the globe and exposing them to the Terrigen Mists, or possibly finding them after they’ve been exposed. Either way, the Inhumans of the MCU appear to be much more widely spread than their comic book counterparts.

Inhumans the new Mutants?

This theory will probably go nowhere but here goes. It may be that, in order for Marvel to avoid having Fox gain access to any newly created mutant characters that appear in the MCU (that ship has sailed for any that have appeared in the comics) Marvel is deciding that instead of most of the heroes being mutants they are Inhumans.

Probably not. I’m not sure how Marvel will explain Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch’s powers, but I doubt they’ll be Inhumans, or Mutants for that matter. That being said, the groundwork, Marvel is laying for the future of the MCU and the Inhumans film are leading me to believe that the MCU has some big plans for the Inhumans.

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Christopher James

Christopher James

The Founder of TPK Media.

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