When Marvel's Inhumans premiered its first two episodes in IMAX theaters a month ago, fans who paid the premium price got both more and less for their money. While the huge IMAX screen lent itself to impressive establishing shots of the island of Oahu, the setting for the Earthbound side of Inhumans' adventure, some scenes were purposely left out of the theatrical version. Co-financed by the IMAX Corporation in a unique distribution deal with Marvel and ABC Television, Inhumans' IMAX presentation is approximately 9 minutes shorter than the version broadcast on ABC on September 29th.
In an interview with The Independent, Inhumans director Roel Reiné elaborated on the differences between the theatrical IMAX and ABC broadcast versions, as well as which version he prefers:
"Yes, the IMAX version has more IMAX shots, those with big scope, more wide angles, while the TV has closer versions of that. The TV also has 10 minutes of extra footage: scenes that are more appropriate for TV rather than cinema, that’s the difference... I like them both!"
At the Television Critics Association, Marvel Television President Jeph Loeb referred to the 75 minute IMAX version as "a variant cover," compared to the 'official' 84 minute version seen on ABC.
As for why this creative decision was made, Reiné's explanation seems to indicate that the goal of the IMAX version was to deliver a 'larger,' and more immersive cinematic experience that would be less burdened by the exposition typical of television. However, eschewing that exposition was (just) one of the problems with Inhumans. Fans and critics uniformly found Inhumans uninvolving and underwheming, despite the size and scope of the IMAX shots. Shortening the IMAX version to 75 minutes may also have been an attempt to add an extra screening or two per day, but even if Marvel had distributed an 84 minute cut to theaters, given the miniscule crowds that received Inhumans during its brief theatrical run, they still would have had plenty of empty seats.
Now that the 'real' cut of Inhumans has arrived on ABC, does the added footage address the various problems with Inhumans fans and critics who have only seen the IMAX version thus far have taken issue with? Do the complete 84 minutes make Inhumans a better show? What are the extra scenes that make up the added 9 minutes of footage? Let's find out:
Of the lead characters who comprise the Inhumans Royal Family, the biggest beneficiary of the extra footage is Maximus (Iwan Rheon), the brother of the Inhumans' king Black Bolt (Anson Mount), who mounts a coup to take over the throne. Though he's the saga's primary antagonist and Rheon is arguably the strongest actor in the ensemble, it's surprising how many scenes involving Maximus were cut out of the theatrical IMAX version.
Before Maximus begins his coup, a new scene is added where he meets with Titang, the head of the Genetic Council, who is brought to a rooftop garden of Attilan by Auran (Sonya Balmores). They discussed how the Inhumans found and disabled a lunar probe from Earth that was colliding with the invisible wall of Attilan. Titang told Maximus that Bronaja, a young Inhuman who underwent Terrigenesis at the start of the episode, had a vision of Titang lying in a "beautiful river." Maximus reveals his plan to take the Inhumans society to Earth and his intention to replace Black Bolt as king. When Titang calls Maximus' plan treason and asks him to reconsider or else he'll inform the Genetic Council, Auran murders Titang, leaving him in a "beautiful river" of his own blood. Auran calls Maximus "my king" and the coup is on.
The most interesting Maximus scenes are his interactions with Crystal (Isabelle Cornish), the princess, who was very underserviced in the IMAX version. Once the coup is completed and Black Bolt, the Queen Medusa (Serinda Swan), Karnak (Ken Leung), and Gorgon (Eme Ikwuakor) have all escaped to Earth, Maximus subdues Lockjaw, the teleporting dog, and takes Crystal prisoner. Crystal is brought to the throne room after Maximus explains to Auran how to pacify any potential unrest from the Inhuman population, who are told by Maximus that the rest of the Royal Family abandoned them. Maximus tries to sway Crystal to his line of thinking, asking her to think of her parents, who "so detested" Black Bolt's family. Crystal defiantly refuses to honor Maximus as king, because he's "just a human." Maximus makes a vague threat of tragedy falling upon her before imprisoning Crystal in her apartment.
Another throne room scene for Maximus sees Bronaja visiting him and offering a vision of that the Genetic Council was planning Maximus' death. This leads to Maximus and armed guards confronting the rest of the Genetic Council and basically implying he had Kitang killed and that he would do the same to the rest of them.
Next, Maximus visits Crystal in her apartment to once again try to win the princess over to his side. This time, he makes an idle threat that "an accident" could befall Lockjaw. During their conversation, Maximus again brings up Crystal's parents, who he says tried to overthrow the Inhumans' caste system before Black Bolt and his parents killed them. "Are you willing to risk your life supporting something they knew was so deeply wrong?" Maximus asks Crystal, before leaving her to think about joining him once more time.