Marvel films are all but synonymous with “spectacle.” Large-scale superhero stunts, mythical worlds, massive action sequences and plenty of d foes are all par for the course when it comes to the world’s biggest superhero films, but how do filmmakers give actors superpowers with any degree of believability?
Visual effects, of course, along with some crazy stunt training and cutting-edge technology. Lucky for us, there’s a lot we can learn about the journey from soundstage to superhero with visual effects breakdowns, behind-the-scenes footage and scene explainers. Let’s take a look at some “before” shots that make Steve Rogers’s transformation to Captain America look like just a “good summer.”
Captain America: Civil War Behind-the-Scenes Footage
Nine glorious minutes of behind-the-scenes action. There plenty of wires, practical effects, pre-CGI fights and jumps, and, of course, green screens galore.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier VFX Breakdown From Industrial Light & Magic
This VFX look from ILM breaks down and puts together the biggest scenes from The Winter Soldier with CGI, green screens and live-action effects.
Making Skinny Steve for Captain America: The First Avenger
In a series of three featurette clips from Marvel, the filmmakers break down the process of creating “Skinny Steve” — a believable slimmed and scaled-down version of Chris Evans for the beginning of the Captain America story pre super-serum. This is part one, but be sure to watch parts two and three for the full story.
Captain America: The First Avenger VFX Breakdown for Kruger Chase Sequence.
A look at how the scenes from present-day city street were transformed to become 1940’s Brooklyn.
The Avengers ILM VFX Breakdown
In this clip, ILM shows off the Helicarrier and breaks down the Battle of New York.
ILM Breaks Down Making the Hulk for The Avengers
There were plenty of challenges in making the visual effects of The Avengers look great, but none quite as massive as making the Hulk believable and formidable. Visual effects experts from ILM break down the big, green process.
ILM’s Anatomy of a Shot for The Avengers
One of the most complex shots in The Avengers was the one where the camera moves from one hero to the next in a single shot as they battle the Chitauri from different locations: street-level, a roof, the side of a building, etc. Moving from one hero to the next in a single shot when so much of the scene was CGI was a tall order, but ILM explains exactly how it managed to make it happen.
Ant-Man VFX Breakdown from Luma Pictures
Some of the biggest (and smallest) scenes come together in this breakdown from Luma Pictures with CGI and live-action elements.
Hulk vs. Ant-Man VFX Walkthrough
The folks at Luma Pictures take us behind the scenes to talk about how they made Ant-Man so small, the Hulk so big, and their interaction so compelling.
Behind-the-Scenes of Guardians of the Galaxy
Get a good look at the world of Guardians before the addition of CGI and visual effects. There’s a lot of live action shots that illustrate the scale of the sets and the role of green screen, but clips from Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper’s vocal work for Groot and Rocket Raccoon respectively is also a great peek behind the curtain.
Thor: The Dark World’s Stone Man Explainer
Find out how Thor’s stone foe went from a guy on stilts to a massive club-wielding boulder baddie.
Thor: The Dark World VFX Breakdown from Blur Studio
This VFX breakdown shows us how landscapes, characters and entire worlds came into being with the help of CGI and motion capture technology.
WIRED’s Thor: The Dark World Previsualization Effects
Before you endeavor to spend millions of dollars making a film, it’s a good idea to know what you want some of the key shots to look like. WIRED breaks down the process of previsualization with The Dark World filmmakers and explores how these key shots came together.
Iron Man 3’s House Attack Breakdown
Watch the house attack come together from scenic B-roll to full-scale action sequence.
Iron Man 3’s Air Force One Scene Explainer
Marvel gives us a look behind the scenes at Iron Man 3’s biggest moments. In the clip above, filmmakers talk about the making of the Air Force One clip, complete with days full of jumping out of air planes, the creation of hidden parachutes and the commitment to shooting the sequence in the world instead of on a stage with the help of green screens.
Iron Man 3’s ‘Calling the Suit’ Scene Explainer
Another clip from Marvel covers how the scene in which Tony calls the Iron Man suit was created with the help of motion tracking equipment and some heavy duty stunt work. We walk through the process with Robert Downey Jr. from previsualization to stunt training before we see the final sequence fall into place with a bevy of tracking stickers and wires.