James Whitbrook of I09’s thoughts on Medusa’s hair in this clip from Inhumans are on-point, but to be fair, the underwhelming effects on Medusa’s crimson locks may have less to do with sub-par vfx work, and more to do with the possibility that some implications of translating this aspect of the comics to live action may have been overlooked in the process of achieving a believable body of hair that was responsive to the actress’ body language.
Medusa (portrayed by Serinda Swan) belongs to the race of Inhumans, a species of prehistoric earthlings mutated by the Terrigen Mists produced deep under the Inhuman city-state of Attilan, presently located in the oxygen-rich Blue Area of the Moon. Considered a member of Attilan’s Royal Family, Medusa’s parents chose to expose her to the Terrigen Mists when she was a child. Medusa is married to her distant cousin, Black Bolt (portrayed by Anson Mount). The latter’s insane brother, Maximus the Mad (portrayed by Iwan Rheon), also claims to be in love with Medusa and has made frequent attempts to usurp the throne as well as make her his bride.
Medusa can control the movement of her hair as if it were countless thin appendages growing from her head. A psionic field permeates her mutagenically altered hair-cells, causing mutual attraction across the gaps between strands. She possesses a long, thick head of hair, every strand of which has greater tensile strength, modulus of elasticity, and shear resistance than an iron wire of the same thickness, as well as the psychokinetic ability to animate her hair for a number of feats. Medusa also possesses certain physical skills superior to those of human athletes.
Medusa’s hair in the graphic novels relies on the certain effects provided by the artist’s strokes, and shading that, while not an accurate representation of the physical properties of real hair, sell the idea well enough for a comic panel. Bold black lines representing light occlusion between clumps for example, highlight the overall color, create a feeling of energy, and can change the impression of the hair’s form to resemble anything from a silken sheet to a menacing cluster of tendrils where appropriate.
Recreating this with a 3d hair simulation may not play out as gracefully because viewers are now seeing this happening against a real environment,where stylizing is harder to get away with, and are more likely to observe inaccuracies more quickly at an instinctive level. Certain arguments about the “uncanny valley” might illustrate this further, actually.
Anyway, we’re still really excited about Inhumans coming to the small screen, and who knows, the vfx team behind may still be able to comb through that issue and still do something before the show airs. Best of luck, guys! Watch the official trailer for Marvel’s Inhumans here.