Scott Buck may go down as one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's more insidious villains.
No, he's not some pissy megalomaniac on the screen, just a dubious creative presence off it: Buck was the showrunner of the awful first season of Netflix's "Iron Fist," and is now helming ABC's "Inhumans." But understanding why Buck's leadership could doom "Inhumans" requires more origin story than just "Iron Fist." Indeed, Danny Rand's tiresome TV outing wasn't the first show Buck ran.
That would be "Dexter." Specifically, seasons six through eight of "Dexter."
Though Buck was rightfully recognized for his writing on the terrific first few seasons of Showtime's drama, his taking over the show coincided all too neatly with its creative nosedive. Seasons six through eight saw "Dexter" spectacularly fail to retain its talent for building suspense around the fate of Michael C. Hall's titular serial killer, and for building interest in the lives of the people who did and didn't know his dark secret. Its finale remains such an unsatisfying conclusion to its eight years of storytelling that I still wish I never started watching "Dexter" in the first place.
I tried to pace myself, but last weekend I still plowed through Marvel's new "Luke Cage" series like its titular hero through a hail of gunfire.
Lack of direction, thin characters — sound familiar? Buck's storytelling fingerprints were all over "Iron Fist" when it premiered in March. Add his and Marvel's poor handling of calls to cast an Asian-American as Rand — as well as the low fight IQ of the man they did cast, Finn Jones — and you have easily the worst yet of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's several dozen live-action works.
Buck could outdo himself with "Inhumans," though.
With a fall 2017 premiere approaching, the ABC drama is taking worryingly quick shape for such a complicated Marvel property. The first photo of Anson Mount's Black Bolt and the rest of the Inhuman Royal Family has deservedly drawn laughter for the low-rent costumes on display. Given the production timetable, I'd expect "Inhumans'" requisite special effects to look just as poor.
And that's just the window dressing. We know from "Dexter's" Morgans and "Iron Fist's" Meachums that family dynamics are not among Buck's storytelling strengths. So what happens when you not only add family members, but mute the main character? What happens when you go from criminal Miami and corporate New York City to some otherworldly kingdom?
Of course, it may be unfair to dump all this storytelling responsibility for "Inhumans" on Buck's shoulders, just as it may be unfair to assign him the failures of "Dexter" and "Iron Fist." Many more minds realize these shows, and many more factors decide how well they do so. But if "Inhumans" also fails come September, we won't have to look far for a potential culprit.