Marvel’s Inhumans: In the latest addition to the extended Marvel Cinematic Universe, an ancient race of superpowered alien-human hybrids lives in a secret city hidden on the moon. When the long-ruling royal family is deposed in a coup, several members find themselves exiled to Earth (more specifically, Honolulu).
The Gifted: Two teenage siblings discover that they have mutant powers and must go on the run from government mutant-hunting agents. They’re aided by an underground network of mutants (who may or may not be connected to mutant heroes the X-Men), along with their own parents—one of whom used to be responsible for locking up rogue mutants.
Marvel’s Inhumans: Creator and showrunner Scott Buck was also in charge of the first season of fellow Marvel series Iron Fist on Netflix, the worst-reviewed product of the MCU thus far—at least until reviews of the IMAX release of Inhumans’ first two episodes came out.
The Gifted: Longtime X-Men movie director/writer/producer Bryan Singer directed the first episode and is onboard as a producer, along with fellow veteran X-Men movie producer Simon Kinberg. Creator Matt Nix previously delivered breezy action-adventure as the creator of USA’s Burn Notice.
Marvel’s Inhumans: The best performance comes from a CGI dog, giant Inhuman pet Lockjaw, who cutely teleports his masters away from and/or into danger. The human actors are less effective, including Anson Mount as mute Inhuman king Black Bolt, goofily exaggerating his facial expressions in an effort to convey emotion, and Game of Thrones’ Iwan Rheon as the devious villain Maximus, who mostly comes off as a pouty whiner.
The Gifted: Central teens Natalie Alyn Lind and Percy Hynes White are a little bland, but genre favorites Amy Acker (Angel) and Stephen Moyer (True Blood) bring real anguish and empathy to their roles as the kids’ conflicted parents, and there’s a fun energy to the performances from Jamie Chung and Emma Dumont, among others, as the sort of hipster underground version of the X-Men.
Marvel’s Inhumans: Despite getting extra financing from IMAX to create the super-sized theatrical release, the show still looks cheap, with interiors that resemble the lobby of a fancy office building and slow, lumbering fight scenes, doled out sparingly. Ken Leung’s Karnak has the seemingly cool power of being able to recognize the fatal flaw in anything or anyone, but even he fights like the slowest henchman in a B-level action movie.
The Gifted: Thanks to Singer’s direction, the pilot is fast-paced and exciting, with several intense chase sequences and some smartly deployed special effects (including creepy insect-like robots used by the agents hunting down the main characters). No further episodes were available for review, so it’s impossible to say whether the show will maintain those standards, but it’s off to a solid start.