14 years of movies and a controversy with designers: the evolution of special effects in the MCU | TV and Show

That Marvel Studios is one of the most sought-after and popular film companies in recent years is no secret. Actors, producers and almost anyone linked to the seventh art would like to have a participation in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), the empire formed based on the exploits of figures such as Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk and Black Widow.

To achieve these blockbusters you need a large team with concrete ideas to develop audiovisual material on time. In these cases, Marvel hires various companies to support the advancement and development of movies and series, which have their own behind-the-scenes team, who handle the design of CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) and VFX (Effects). visuals).

Already with Phase 4 of the MCU underway, hand in hand with the premiere of its series on Disney+ (Loki, Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel) and movies (Thor: Love and Thunder, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness) it has been shown the hard work behind these projects, which have had ups and downs.


Creating a reality with superheroes

The transfer of a story created for comics to the audiovisual world is a great task, with a lot of work involved, from pre-production to “Date Zero”: The premiere of the project, both for movies and series.

The inclusion of VFX generates a reality closer to what thousands of fans imagined when reading the comics, which have multiverses, superpowers, destruction and other phenomena that require the use of special effects.

But, how does this process of digital creation begin?

After the recordings with the actors in front of the camera and the use of practical special effects, the material obtained “raw” is processed by the studios or computerized effects areas.

During this process known as post-production, the recordings are edited in color depending on their scenes and the different special effects are included which are previously worked on by the CGI department.

The beginnings with Iron Man

When you compare the first “tin” suit worn by Tony Stark (Robet Downey Jr.) in the first Iron Man, with the suit developed with nanotechnology in Avengers: Endgame, you see how much has changed and the technological advances of the animation.

Jon Favreau, who directed the first “iron man” movie in 2008, did not trust that special effects could create a full metal suit, so he used practical effects and together with the Stan Winston School created a project based on leather and aluminum

Although the suit was too big for both Robert and his voice actor, they decided, Insider noted, it was decided to use special effects to digitize the character’s movement, and add it to the film. For further details on the suit, some parts were sent to The Embassy studio in Vancouver, Canada to capture the realism of the practical suit and give it that metal aesthetic.

As the years and technology advanced, the suits evolved to create something more organic for the big screen, while also reflecting the technological leaps made by the prodigious genius of Tony Stark. The suit of the “machine master” was no longer an improvised metal prototype, but a shell of the most futuristic science fiction, generated by multiple animated layers that simulated nanotechnology, creating the illusion that each of its pieces are heading autonomously to the right place.

The importance of Avengers: Endgame

The installment that closed Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was Avengers: Endgame (Box office Mojo), the second highest-grossing film of all time worldwide, and which marked a before and after in the productions of Marvel studios. Marvel.

Its cast featured the biggest superheroes in the MCU, with Chris Evans as Captain America, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. These superheroes had the mission to defeat Thanos (Josh Brolin), to reverse the disappearance of 50% of the universal population (which also included his companions and family).

This movie had the help of studios like Industrial Light & Magic and Weta to create the digital effects for the film. Weta, along with other studios, worked on Josh Brolin’s motion capture, ILM turned actor Mark Ruffalo into the Hulk (or Professor Hulk or “Smart Hulk”), and other special effects houses turned Chris Evans into a 106 year old man.

One of the most significant achievements for the special effects team, according to Marvel Entertainment special effects producer Jen Underdahl, was achieving the creation of Thanos and “Smart Hulk”, since visually these characters stand out for their enormous work in their creation, development and incorporation into the film, he commented for WIRED.

For a good animation takes time

Although many of his fans find that the closing of Phase 3 left the bar very high, criticism of the latest releases from Marvel Studios has not been without ridiculeor even comments from their own directors.

This has gone further, even going so far as several workers in the industry to deliver their comments regarding overwork and payments not equivalent to the hours dedicated.

These problems are often not a budget issue, but a cultural trend within film studios, which face unreasonable deadlines and fall into labor abuses with their employees as the main affected.

On July 10 through Twitter, Dhruv Govil who has been in charge of creating the special effects of Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man and Suicide Squad (DC Films)used his Twitter account to confirm what his colleagues said.

“Working on Marvel productions was what led me to leave the VFX industry”, he claimed. “They’re a horrible customer, and I’ve seen too many colleagues collapse after working too hard, while Marvel tightens the purse strings.”

However, Dhruv went on to provide details. “So just because a lot of people have brought it up, this has been the case since the early days of the MCU. did not start recentlyand it’s not because of Chapek -the new CEO of Disney-“, he stated.

To this he added: “The problem is that Marvel is too big and can demand what it wants. It’s a toxic relationship,” she concluded.

The work culture and the production itself often do not give enough value and importance to the special effects stage, which is a very serious issue in Marvel studios.

So far no formal complaints have been released and the comics company has not referred to the issue either.