Marvel VFX Artists Add ‘Tension’ and ‘Turmoil’ to ‘Ant-Man’
“Why they changed certain things, why they dragged out certain notes longer than they should have — that’s on Marvel.”
Marvel VFX artists bring big issues to the table as they share what really went wrong in post-production on ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’.
The latest Marvel blockbuster, which ushers in Phase 5 of the MCU, is rated “rotten” by Rotten Tomatoes’ aggregate reviews and a B by CinemaScore — a very mediocre grade if CinemaScore voters usually grade on a curve. . The bad reviews and underwhelming critical response are partly rooted in the rocky special effects; now VFX artists explain exactly why the superhero movie looks the way it does.
“Unfortunately, it’s noticeable that there were shortcuts,” visual effects technician Jin, whose name has been changed Vulture expo said. “They used certain things to cover up incomplete work. Certain editorial cuts were made to not show as much action or effects as they could have – probably because there wasn’t enough time to show them all. It really felt like certain scenes were cut or otherwise changed to save money, time, or to cover up ineptitude.
Jin cited that Marvel’s VFX department was cramped due to overlapping post-production processes for “Quantumania” and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” VFX workers reportedly worked 80-hour weeks for months, especially when last-minute changes were requested.
IndieWire reached out to Marvel for comment.
Fellow VFX artist Conor, whose name has also been changed for publication, explained: “There were times when we did a full action of an actor: Ant-Man walking through something. And you just think, “Why didn’t they film it the way they wanted? Why do we have to create again and again? Why compare Frankenstein with an actor’s performance? A quick shot that lasts maybe two seconds would have to be redone 20 times to get the look they want. There was a lot of revision, a lot of inefficiency.”
Colleague Jin added, “In terms of priority, ‘Wakanda Forever’ was clearly at the top of the list. All the money went to this. The best resources went to this. It makes sense from the context — with Chadwick (Boseman) and everything and how well the first movie did. But that diminished the ability to carry ‘Ant-Man’ through.”
Jin continued, “For ‘Ant-Man’, there were many editing changes in the last third and fourth of the project, which were too late. There is a point of no return. Why they changed certain things, why they stuck certain notes for longer than they should have – that’s on Marvel. But it definitely caused a lot of tension and confusion and weight for everyone.”
The lack of resources and equal remuneration for the time spent also contributed to the overwhelming visual result.
“Many of us sit here and think: ‘We have the money. Why doesn’t he come down? If Marvel spends a little more money to pay more VFX people, it wouldn’t make that much of a difference to the executives at the top,” Jin said. “But when it comes to them not being comfortable with their bank account and us working ourselves to burnout, we lose every time. Frankly, I equate it with human greed.”
With rumblings from Hollywood’s VFX unions and claims that Marvel has “put a definitive end” to industry burnout, the alleged mistreatment of visual effects artists has been a topic of debate for nearly a year. Former Marvel VFX artist Dhruv Govil he tweeted He left the industry for his work on Marvel shows after working on films like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”
“I’ve seen too many colleagues break from being overworked as Marvel tightens their wallets,” Govil wrote. “Problem is #Marvel is too big and can demand what they want. It’s a toxic relationship.”
Another Vulture A report published in July 2022 accused Marvel of “blacklisting” VFX houses that sometimes failed to meet unreasonably high standards with fast deadlines.
“The effects houses are trying to bend over backwards to keep Marvel happy,” a source told the portal. “The other thing about Marvel is that they’re known for asking for a lot of changes during the process. So you’re already overworked, but then Marvel asks for regular changes, much more than any other client. And some of these changes are really significant. Maybe a month or two before the movie comes out, Marvel asks us to change the entire third act.
The source cited the head-scratching physics of the “Black Panther” climax, which “looks a little cartoonish” because a director of photography is not involved in the VFX process. “We meet the shots a lot. This creates a lot of incongruity,” the source said. “It broke the visual language of film.”
Audience backlash over questionable special effects in Disney+ Marvel’s “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” has prompted showrunner Jessica Gao to defend the process. “It’s terrible that a lot of artists feel rushed and the workload is too much,” Gao said during the series’ TCA press tour. “I mean, I think everyone on this panel stands in solidarity with all workers and is very supportive of good working conditions.”
Lead actress Tatiana Maslany added: “I think we have to like to be extremely aware that working conditions are not always optimal and that there have been amazing advances in this industry. I look and it doesn’t look like a video game scene. I can see the character’s thoughts. I am very afraid of what they are doing.”
As Jin recently said in the February 2023 report, those involved in VFX on Marvel projects “can’t say, ‘Well, that’s pretty shit. Shouldn’t we be doing something better? Because that’s never going to happen.”
Commenting on Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quatumania, Jin concluded, “I think there’s so much potential in this story, the visual effects in general—I think the movie is getting the reviews it’s getting because Marvel is doubling down limit quality as much as possible. Blood is squeezed out of the stones. And we ran out of blood.”
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