Watch Marvel's 'Inhumans' on Imax, not iPhone, says director

Director Roel Reiné reveals the cinematic influence of auteurs like Wong-Kar Wai on Marvel's new show, which will premiere in movie theatres.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
3 min read
Karen Neal

Marvel 's "Inhumans" spans both the small screen and the big screen -- the very big screen -- as it debuts on thousands of giant Imax screens before it's on TV. And director Roel Reiné shot the show with that huge frame in mind, drawing on Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar-wai and calling for fans to watch the show on a bigger screen than your iPhone

The first two episodes of "Inhumans" will be shown in Imax theatres around the world on 1 September before the series premieres on TV a couple of weeks later. It's the first television show to be shot specifically for Imax, using specially-adapted Alexa Imax 65mm cameras borrowed from the production of Marvel's "Avengers: Infinity War". The bigger cameras mean bigger sets, bigger shots and bigger action.

From the footage I've seen of the opening episodes of "Inhumans," the visual style of the show is definitely big. Lavish Hawaii landscapes and hyper-detailed slow motion make the most of the extra visual real estate -- something Reiné suggests you'll miss out on if you watch the show on your phone. "You will get the story," he said, "but you will never have the emotional connection."

"Nothing compares to this," he added, gesturing to the towering Imax screen. 

If you can't make it to an Imax theatre, "Inhumans" is on ABC in the US and various other channels and streaming services around the world.

Watch this: Comic-Con 'Marvel's Inhumans' trailer shows Medusa in action

Speaking at a press preview screening at London's Imax screen, Reiné explained that he shot a crucial scene twice -- once, at the producers' request, in the usual television style you see in traditional network TV shows; and then also in the lavishly cinematic style of director Wong Kar-wai's sumptuous 2013 epic "The Grandmaster."

"I'm a movie-maker," said Reiné. "The movie industry is folding and TV is glorifying stories that look bigger and more cinematic... I hope this is the start of bringing really good stories back to the cinema."

That might be news to Christopher Nolan, who recently shot "Dunkirk" on Imax cameras and probably thought he'd made quite a good story, but I digress.


"Inhumans" director Roel Reiné operates one of a handful of Alexa 65mm cameras adapted for Imax filming.

Karen Neal

Marvel's "Inhumans" tells the story of a superpowered royal family exiled from the moon to Hawaii. Lead character Black Bolt, played by Anson Mount, can't speak, and his wife Medusa, played by Serinda Swan, has hair that's alive and attacks people. Supporting characters include a dude with superpowered hooves and a teleporting dog. Yup, it's fair to say this is the weirdest Marvel outing yet.

That leads to another aspect of the show best enjoyed on a bigger screen: the effects. According to Reiné, seven visual effects companies are currently working "day and night" to finish the 600 effects shots required by the opening two episodes. That includes Medusa's living, moving hair and fully computer-generated character of Lockjaw, the giant teleporting hound. 

A big screen will also make it easier to spot some of the easter eggs hidden in the show. Reiné gives only a non-committal "maybe" when asked about possible crossovers with other Marvel movies and TV shows, but also says he's hidden references to the comics in the show. Here's one to start you off: Look out for the Kree iconography in the Inhumans' throne room.

Reiné is a Dutch director with a number of action movies and TV episodes under his belt, including "Black Sails", "Death Race 2" and "The Scorpion King 3". Meanwhile the showrunner of "Inhumans" is Scott Buck, who previously worked on "Six Feet Under" and "Dexter", as well as taking charge of "Iron Fist", the most recent Marvel show on Netflix. 

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