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It might be the A-list stars donning the capes
and masks, but the real heroes of today’s CGI-heavy comic book movies are the special
effects artists — the men and women who really make it all possible. Of course, if you’re not convinced that’s
the case, just try watching those movies before the effects were added in. 2014 was a big year for Marvel movies — beyond
the obvious successes of the MCU, Fox also released its eagerly awaited X-Men sequel
Days of Future Past. As Marvel prepared to introduce Aaron Taylor-Johnson
as the MCU’s Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Fox exercised its right to use
the character by casting Evan Peters as the lightning-fast mutant for the X-Men prequel/sequel
combo. The film earned rave reviews, and Peters’
Quicksilver was one of its best parts, with one scene in particular making the headlines. Days of Future Past’s now-iconic super slow-mo
kitchen scene may have looked amazing on film, but it wasn’t at all easy to achieve. The sequence had to be shot at a mind-blowing
3,600 frames per second — compare that to the standard 24 for most films. A frame rate that high requires huge amounts
of light to work. In an interview with io9, Peter said: “It was incredibly bright. A lot of the crew and Bryan [Singer] got to
wear sunglasses. And the actors had to keep their eyes open
for a long, long time, with that bright light just blaring at you. It’s like the sun. It’s brighter than the sun. It’s right there in your eyes. But the end result is so worth it. You just power through it.” Unlike its predecessor, 2016’s X-Men Apocalypse
didn’t go down too well with the critics. Still, it had a few redeeming features, chief
among which was — yeah, you guessed it — Quicksilver’s moment in the spotlight. Why mess with perfection, right? Although technological advances made between
Days of Future Past and Apocalypse made things easier for the effects team, director Bryan
Singer still chose to approach Quicksilver’s second major set piece as practically as possible. This super slow-mo evacuation scene may have
upped the ante from the kitchen scene in Days of Future Past, but Singer told Den of Geek
that you’d be surprised just how much of it was real. He explained: “We did use certain visual effects, certain
digital effects and explosive algorithms, but we also took multiple phantom 3D cameras
and ran them in protective cases through physical explosions.” Just because the CGI team had it easy, however,
doesn’t mean everyone did. “We blew up our sets. We waited until we were done with them, and
then blew them up. We flew the cameras through at 80mph rolling
at 3000 frames per second.” All in all, it took six weeks to make what
amounted to two minutes of film. Considering how well that scene went down
with fans, however, there’s a good chance the crew decided it was more than worth the
effort. The fifth MCU entry marked Chris Evans’ debut
as Steve Rogers, a scrawny New Yorker who becomes an all-American super soldier after
agreeing to take part in a military experiment. Evans got jacked for the role, though his
bulky frame meant that filming the scenes that take place before he transforms into
Captain America was very tricky. The visual effects department shrunk Evans’
actual body for some shots, but they also used a body double: actor Leander Deeny. “The goal was to make the audience fall in
love with the character before he gets any muscles, before he puts on any costumes, before
he holds the shield.” Visual effects put Evans’ face on Leander’s
body. And although his double was diligent about
mimicking Evans’ body language as best he could, the effects company still had their
work cut out, comparing it to, quote, “taking the head of a rhinoceros and putting it on
the body of a gazelle.” Logan was a milestone movie in Fox’s long-running
X-Men franchise, not only because it was Hugh Jackman’s final bow as Wolverine, but also
because it was the first time fans got to see the clawed mutant in all his R-rated glory. The levels of violence on display during Logan
were like nothing before seen in the X-Men universe, and this meant the VFX team had
their work cut out for them. But Rising Sun Pictures’ VFX supervisor Dennis
Jones relished the challenge. He told Art of VFX: “Logan is more brutal, visceral, and has direct
consequences for the characters involved. The R rating that was confirmed from the start
introduced another dynamic to play with, albeit in a restrained fashion. In The Wolverine, some of our shots had to
be amended to remove blood and claw penetration, so it was great to be able to [set] the character
free from these constraints.” But that gore went far beyond just computer
graphics. Makeup designer Joel Harlow also told The
Verge that: “The level of physical trauma in this film
is something I haven’t had to contend with since the early years when I was smearing
blood around.” Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2’s visual effects
supervisor Chris Townsend wasn’t part of the team that worked on the first Guardians movie,
but he had previously worked with Marvel on Captain America: The First Avenger and Iron
Man 3, receiving an Oscar nomination for the latter. When offered the opportunity to oversee the
Guardians sequel, Townsend jumped at the chance to return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He told Rotoscopers: “I’m a huge fan of the films. I think from a creative and visual effects
point of view, they’re some of the funnest stuff out there.” For the film’s epic third act, in which the
Guardians face Ego inside his own planet, Townsend accepted a bid from Weta Digital,
who picked up the action right after Ego reveals to Quill that he gave his mother cancer. Weta’s Guy Williams told Art of VFX: “From that point on, it is mostly our work. We go all the way until Yondu and Quill rise
above the planet as it is destroyed behind them.” The New Zealand-based visual effects house
had up to 490 staffers working on Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 at one stage, according
to Williams, who admitted to losing plenty of sleep over the highly complicated nature
of the project. Let’s face it, if you’re the King of Wakanda,
you’ve got to ride in style. And with the world’s largest supply of the
miracle metal vibranium at your disposal, a Rolls Royce or an Air Force One-style Boeing
747 simply won’t do. Luckily, those Wakandan engineers and scientists
clearly knew what they were doing when they designed Black Panther’s jet. When King T’Challa arrived in Wakanda from
his journeys abroad, he did so on a badass, super-sleek stealth plane that looks like
it came right out of Area 51. You wouldn’t know that if you were just watching
the raw dailies, though. In the original footage, there was no jet,
no landing platform — heck, there wasn’t even any Wakanda. There were just a handful of actors on set
and a large blue screen in the background. It’s a little jarring to see that the Mad
Titan, the destroyer of civilizations, the wicked warlord Thanos, is actually… well,
it’s Josh Brolin wearing what looks like an overpriced, skin-tight biker’s outfit. While Brolin is probably thankful he didn’t
have to wear space armor and paint his skin purple for the role, he was still very much
present during the filming of Infinity War and Endgame thanks to the wonders of motion
capture technology. Brolin had never done mo-cap before, but he
saw the light after seeing what his future Avengers castmate Benedict Cumberbatch was
able to do as Smaug in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. “I kill wherever I breathe and none shall stop me.” Indeed, Brolin’s one-on-one interactions with
his castmates added an extra layer of creepy credibility that made the Mad Titan that much
scarier in the final movies. One of the most underrated aspects of Avengers:
Infinity War was Peter Dinklage’s performance as Eitri, the King of the Dwarves. Here, the actor — who only stands about
4’4″ — was playing a 20-foot giant. The Lord of the Rings films famously used
forced perspective to make people look like Hobbit-sized, but this film used a different
approach, instead having Dinklage play opposite mini-cutouts of Thor, Groot and Rocket Raccoon. This makes Dinklage’s scene-stealing performance
that much more impressive, as he was basically performing with dolls. Chris Hemsworth, who also had to act opposite
nothing, would shoot his scenes on a set, while Dinklage performed against a blue-screen. It’s not always easy, this acting malarkey. Infinity War’s climactic Battle of Wakanda
was filmed on an 8,000-acre farm called Chattahoochee Hills Eventing, about 40 minutes outside Atlanta. Instead of thousands of extras, only 70 performers
were used, but they became more than 500 Wakandans digitally, and proceeded to do battle with
Thanos’ army of 10,000 alien monsters known as Outriders — which were also digitally
produced. The art department even added indigenous African
trees and created an artificial river for the scene, with a massive pump that was gushing
out up to 30,000 gallons per minute. That’s a lot of effort for something that’s
barely even visible in the finished movie. Thor’s arrival at the Battle of Wakanda may
very well be the most epic superhero entrance ever. But when you see what it looked like before
the CGI was added… okay, it’s still pretty epic, but it’s not quite the same as the finished
product. For this scene, Chris Hemsworth donned his
full Thor attire and wielded a massive axe that just need a little CG love to become
the mighty Stormbreaker. Of course, what he didn’t have was a smack-talking,
gun-toting raccoon on his shoulder, an angsty teenage tree, hundreds of Wakandan warriors,
or an invading army of 10,000 alien monsters. So yeah, most of the stuff in this scene was
added after the fact. All the more reason to be impressed with Chris
Hemsworth’s performance, considering he was basically acting by himself in a $10,000 Halloween
costume. Following Hulk’s vicious beatdown at the hands
of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel fans were on the edges of their seats waiting
to find out what the future held for everyone’s favorite angry green giant. None but the most die-hard comic book fans
could have guessed it would be Professor Hulk. According to Animation Boss, it was Framestore
who breathed life into Endgame’s Bruce Banner/Hulk hybrid. The process started by taking source footage
of Mark Ruffalo and matching it to animation. This animation was then used for 60 shots,
with head cam footage used for reference. According to Animation Supervisor Max Solomon: “It was absolutely about channeling Bruce
Banner. His face is very expressive. Every nuance, every little twitch and eye
dart, slight curl of the lip and muscle tension needed to be translated.” VFX Supervisor Stuart Penn explained: “There was a lot of work involved as their
face shapes are so different — Hulk is massive, his mouth proportionally bigger, his eyes
are sunken with deeper sockets. Tiny changes to his face had a huge effect
on the performance.” Having wiped out half of all life in Infinity
War, a past version of Thanos returns to Earth in Endgame’s final act, in a desperate attempt
to regain the six infinity stones from the Avengers. Unfortunately for him, this is the first time
this version of the Mad Titan has gone up against against Captain Marvel. Fans had been eagerly anticipating Captain
Marvel’s bout against Thanos ever since she was teased in the post-credits scene to Avengers:
Infinity War. After seeing what she was capable during both
her own movie and her handful of earlier scenes in Endgame, it became clear that the Mad Titan
had more than met his match in Danvers. But bringing this fight to life on set appears
to have been considerably less epic than how it wound up being on the big screen. But hey, that’s the magic of the movies for
you. Tony Stark’s last stand against Thanos has
to be one of the MCU’s greatest ever scenes. “And I am Iron Man.” That final line was a call-back to one first
uttered 11 years prior to Endgame in Iron Man, the film that launched the biggest franchise
in history — and there couldn’t have been a better line for Tony Stark to go out on. Strangely enough, however, it almost didn’t
happen. During a Q&A that took place in the wake of
the film’s release, the Russo brothers explained: “Tony used to not say anything in that moment. And we were in the editing room going, ‘He
has to say something. This is a character who has lived and died
by quips.’ […] And our editor Jeff Ford, who’s been
with us all four movies and is an amazing storyteller, said, ‘Why don’t we just go full
circle with it and say ‘I am Iron Man.” And we’re like, ‘Get the cameras! We have to shoot this tomorrow.'” The scene turned out the be the last one filmed
during Endgame’s reshoots, and the behind-the-scenes reality of this iconic moment was thankfully
captured by Downey’s assistant Jimmy Rich. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Looper videos about your favorite
movies are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the
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37 thoughts on “Marvel Movies Before You Add The Special Effects

  1. These movies are kinda annoying like it’s a bunch of grown men and women in costumes and spandex with a bunch of cgi it’s kinda silly if you think about it like I can’t take them serious at all it’s so cringy

  2. Benedict Cumberbatch in mocap: 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣
    Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug: 😱😱😱😱😱

  3. It must be interesting to work in front of a green screen. Requires a lot of imagination. I think. If it wasn't for having to remember all those lines I could probably do it. Big imagination.😜

  4. I want to remind everyone that the most decorated war hero in US history was about the same size (5 feet, 100 pounds) as Steve Rodgers before the serum.

    Oh, and he had malaria while he was earning those medals.

    They made a movie about Audie Murphy's accomplishments in Ww2, but had to tone it down because the truth was too unbelievable. 😅

  5. Marvel movies are in need of good cgi the most as they are quite the dullest and most moronic movies there are today.
    Once got a glimpse of the Avengers in bad video quality – it was quite interesting how obviously shitty that movie got once it's lost its shiny cgi-surface.

  6. Not gonna lie, and I've got lots of love for Dinklage, but when he showed up as a giant dwarf I literally busted up laughing in the theater.

  7. That 1st Captain America movie was creepy AF cuz his face never matched up with that scrawny body. The cgi was still extra shitty back then. And they had him like that for so long too.

  8. Tony, with pride says "I. Am. Iron Man." It was good but imagine if he says, with pride, appreciation and sadness, "I. Was. Iron Man."

  9. My favorite special effect was not haven't Captain Marvel in the movie as much as people thought that she was going to be in it or even save the day lol. I AM IRON MAN!!!!

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