What’s the Difference Between Inhumans and Mutants in the MCU?

What’s the Difference Between Inhumans and Mutants in the MCU?
Image: Adrian Alphona, Marvel

With Ms. Marvel wrapped up, MCU fans might have some questions about Inhumans and mutants.

Why would they have these questions after Ms. Marvel‘s finale, you might ask?

Well, allow me to just conveniently attach the “spoilers below” warning. You’ve been warned! Come back here when you’ve watched the finale of Ms. Marvel.

What’s the Difference Between Inhumans and Mutants in the MCU?

Gosh, Ms. Marvel was a great show, setting up the character perfectly for the MCU while also skirting around the Inhumans storyline, of which Ms. Marvel was a massive part of in the comics. It was probably my favourite of the MCU storylines, but it left a large hole in the MCU with a subtle but quite obviously deliberate word.

‘There’s something different in your genes. Like a mutation,” Bruno, Kamala Khan’s science and technology-loving friend tells her.

mutation you say? Like a… Mutant?

This, of course, caught the attention of many a Marvel fan, like myself: Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) has always been written as an Inhuman, as we said earlier, but this quite deliberately implies links to the mutants of the X-Men run of comics. It sets up the MCU’s first mutant.

Some Marvel fans are a bit worried about what it could mean for the future of the MCU, but let me demystify this Terrigen Mist.

Mutants and Inhumans aren’t the same, but they are alike, written for similar creative purposes and portrayed… Genuinely quite similarly (they’ve both had nations, though the Inhumans city is more integral to its story, they’ve both had kick-ass teams made up of some of their best warriors, and they’re both written as metaphors for oppression).

Those are surface level differences, but they cover the broad-strokes. More specifically, mutants were humans born with the X-Gene, and Inhumans were humans that were experimented on by the Kree, becoming their own race. After the detonation of the Terrigen bomb in the comics, people around the world became Inhumans (including Ms. Marvel herself).

These are key differences, but in practice the actions of mutants and Inhumans are quite similar. It’s just those foundational elements that matter.

But let’s refocus on why we’re having this conversation: Ms. Marvel. She’s not a mutant in the comics, and mutants have slowly been making their way into MCU storylines (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and WandaVision). How is this different?

Allow me to reference Polygon’s Susana Polo, when talking about the Inhumans show back in 2017:

“Why has Marvel Entertainment decided that Inhumans are so hot right now? Because they don’t have the film rights to the X-Men. The same qualities that made the Inhumans kind of redundant to the Marvel Comics universe has made them valuable to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the absence of mutants and the X-Men, they’re a go-to feared and hated underclass of humanity born with infinitely variable superpowers that derive from a unifying narrative explanation.”

“The metaphor of the X-Men is one of the most powerful and efficient superhero fiction ideas to come out of the Marvel Universe, if not the most. It’s no wonder that Marvel Entertainment is trying to find a way to put it into its film universe with the Inhumans. A Marvel Universe without the mutant metaphor is missing a big chunk of itself.”

Since Polo’s article, two things have happened: the Inhumans show ended up being an unimpressive stain on the MCU, and Disney bought the rights to 20th Century Fox (and by extension, the X-Men, mutants and their movie rights).

Without copyright in the way, why the heck would the MCU cling to the Inhumans? Actually, Ms. Marvel’s original creator wanted her to be a mutant anyway, so what’s the harm, right?

I guess that’s what I’m trying to get at with this article. Ms. Marvel’s story isn’t any different now that she’s a mutant. If anything, this likely means we’ll be getting more mutant stuff sooner than we think.

Buuut Wolverine getting vibranium claws isn’t off the table.

We’re bound to get something X-Men in the MCU sooner or later.