You don't have to be a martial arts champion in order to be a Marvel superhero. But it helps.
Woodbury High School graduate Mike Moh will unleash his fists of fury in "Marvel's Inhumans," a fall series that debuts Sept. 29 on ABC.
"I've definitely been a fan of the movies and that whole cinematic universe every since I saw the first 'Iron Man,'" said Moh, who holds a fourth-degree black belt in Taekwondo. "That was a game-changing movie."
He credits his success in part to his training at Excel Martial Arts Academy in Woodbury, where he also served as instructor, and his involvement with the theater at his alma mater.
"I have great memories coming out of Woodbury High School," he said. "I did two years of plays and musicals."
"Marvel's Inhumans" had a two-part premier on IMAX screens around the world, the first television series to do so. The first two episodes were shot on IMAX cameras and ran for two weeks beginning Sept. 1. The television versions will include additional content.
Not as famous as the X-Men or the Avengers, the Inhumans nevertheless have a long history in the Marvel comics mythology. They're a secret race of genetically altered super humans who live on the moon. Each has a unique (and lethal) superpower.
Moh plays Triton, a green-skinned, amphibious Inhuman who moves like lightning underwater and whose body is resistant to the crushing pressure of the ocean depths.
The King of the Inhumans is Black Bolt, who is played by Anson Mount. Black Bolt never speaks, since his voice literally is a weapon of mass destruction. Saying "Please, pass the salt" would level several city blocks.
He and his queen, Medusa (Serinda Swan) rule the lunar city of Attilan. The Inhuman Royal Family is forced to flee to Earth when Black Bolt's brother Maximus stages a coup. Triton is their advance scout, who helps them adapt to their exile in the jungles of Hawaii.
"Triton's nickname is 'The Operative,'" Moh said. "I think that's very fitting because he's kind of the covert ops guy."
Moh has a recurring role in the hip-hop drama series "Empire" as publicist Steve Cho. Other credits include Ryu in "Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist."
Those who auditioned for the role of Triton were warned that they'd better be ready to spend three or more hours in the makeup chair, Moh said.
"After doing a little bit of research I said, 'I don't care if it's 10 hours in the chair. I'll wear the costume. I'll put on the prosthetics...I'm thinking, 'I'm not Mike Moh anymore. I'm Triton. Let's get ready to go.'"
His wife Richelle is also a black belt in Taekwondo. They met as students at Excel Martial Arts Academy, now Excel Lifeforce. They live in Wisconsin with their three children.
"Obviously (we're) really proud of him," said Richelle's mother and Excel owner Sue Kondratowicz. "We've had a lot of very successful students but this is the first time we've had anyone do something this focused in the entertainment world."
Four years after graduating from Woodbury High School, Moh got a part in Robin-B-Hood, an action comedy starring Jackie Chan. Moh said that Chan taught by example.
"I think he sensed that I was this wide-eyed teenager who just stepped on his idol's set. He was sweeping floors, he was eating with the stunt guys...He was a janitor. He was a director. He was so humble and optimistic about everything. That stuck with me for a long time."