What did Marvel look for in 'Inhumans'? Fast and cheap

Director Roel Reiné tells CNET how his low-budget action background made him the man to realise Marvel's latest TV show.

Karen Neal

You wouldn't think box office-dominating Marvel would ever have to worry about schedules or budgets. But the tight timetable and funding for new TV show "Inhumans" saw Marvel and ABC turn to director Roel Reiné for his experience making low-budget action movies in record time. 

"Inhumans" is the next Marvel saga to leap from page to screen. Following the adventures of moon-dwelling, superpowered royalty banished to Earth, the show was shot on Imax cameras and will premiere in theatres before it's on TV. 

I caught up with Dutch director Reiné in London, where he told me he was picked for the job because of his vision for the character drama at the heart of the superpowered shenanigans.

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Reiné's resume also includes a number of low-budget action movies like "Death Race 2" and "The Scorpion King 3", and this experience stood him in good stead. "I think they liked me for the job because I was able with my action movies to shoot in a very short time, or with very low budgets, action that looks like a big-budget movie," he said. "It was not a feature film, it was a TV episode, but they still wanted to have the scope."

Time was also a critical factor. "The schedule was super-tight," Reiné laughed. "I had TV schedule time to shoot it with Imax cameras, 20 days to shoot two episodes. It's nerve-wracking but I come from a low-budget film world, so 20 days for me is luxury."

Isabelle Cornish gets ready for her close-up while shooting Marvel's "Inhumans".

Karen Neal

The Marvel cinematic universe, of which "Inhumans" is a part, is tightly controlled by the company's top brass -- an experience that's been described as potentially "maddening or exhilarating".

"There was always a Marvel executive around me," remembered Reiné, "just to make sure that whatever I did, or whatever we did together, would tie in with other characters in other universes, in other comics, in other series or movies. They're very protective. … These people are very passionate about their product and about characters and about doing the best version of everything." 

"I heard all of these horror stories of working with Marvel, but I didn't feel that way," said Reiné. "It was very collaborative. … Nine out of ten times they liked what I pitched -- even radical things."

One of the challenges was making the show for the towering screens of Imax theatres, which dictated some creative choices. "Shaky handheld stuff doesn't really work for IMAX," Reiné suggested as an example. "I chose the way to move the cameras more forwards and backwards, and also we built the sets with more scope on top and higher, bigger ceilings … It was really a blast."

The first two episodes of "Inhumans" will be shown in Imax theatres around the world on 1 September, before appearing on ABC in the US and on various broadcast and streaming services around the world.

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