Ever since Phase 4 got into full swing, Marvel Studios has been faced with a rapid increase in controversy, particularly surrounding the CGI of its latest projects. But with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever having now concluded that chapter of the MCU, many are hoping Phase 5 and Ant-Man 3 will bring improvements.
The threequel appears placed to bring some of the studio's toughest VFX challenges yet as director Peyton Reed sets out to bring the Quantum Realm to life. Not only does that involve designing a whole new world for the Ant-Man family to explore from the ground up, but also creating the creatures that inhabit it.
Well, fans don't have long to wait until they see exactly what that will all look like, as the February 17 release is now only a month away, but the latest footage from the movie has fans questioning whether the MCU's VFX problems are really over.
Ant-Man 3 Footage Criticized For 'Ugly' CGI
Twitter user Cryptic HD Quality shared a new look at a shot from Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania that features Paul Rudd's Scott Lang and Kathryn Newton's Cassie Lang gazing out into the Quantum Realm.
The shot follows a wider-angle peak of the duo surrounded by the insane structures and vibrant color spectrum of the Quantum Realm.
However, many have shared their upset at the CGI in the replies, criticizing the shot for not appearing life-like and being noticeably fake.
@MoviemanStudios pre-empted their comment with an expectation of unpleasant responses to come but called the visuals shown so far "really ugly looking:"
"I’m probably gonna get cooked for this but from what we’ve seen so far the visuals are really ugly looking"
@imperialotter another expressed more overall concern for Quantumania, adding their concern that "this movie is going to be a mess."
But some users were far less critical, such as @the_miketella, who stated that the shot "looks fine" and joked that Marvel Studios obviously couldn't "go into the f***ing quantum realm for these scenes:"
"People be criticizing this shit as if they had the ability to go into the fucking quantum realm for these scenes bruh it looks FINE y’all need to relax"
Noting that "everything in Marvel is CG anyways," @EvaUnit10032 expressed happiness about when they lean into making things "otherworldly and colorful:"
"Considering everything in marvel is CG anyways I'm glad when they make things actually seem otherworldly and colorful with that CG."
@HouseOfWanda was one user who fell somewhat between the two sides, praising the background design but noting that the actors' positions and the lighting "make it look more fake than it should:"
"The CGI background is fine but the lighting and the way they're standing there makes it look more fake than it should be idk."
@teutonicpics had a similar point of view in calling the CGI "really good" but criticizing the lighting and camera work before sharing their hopes that these shots "[don't] represent the whole film:"
"The CGI is really good but the lighting and camera work is so bad. Shame. Hopefully this doesn’t represent the whole film."
@EyItsNae made a particular note that the way the two heroes are standing "on a random flat circle in the middle of rough terrain" makes the CGI significantly more noticeable than it otherwise would be:
"Dumbest complaint known to man, but movies always take us to these otherworldly cgi wonderlands or whatever but having characters interact on a random flat circle in the middle of rough terrain is like one of three factors that makes "welcome to green screen room" stand out."
Ant-Man 3 director Peyton Reed revealed early in production that they would be taking full advantage of The Volume for the shoot. This technology acts as a replacement for a green screen, projecting digitally-created backgrounds behind the cast and any set pieces in real-time.
The historic creation was developed by Lucasfilm's Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) for The Mandalorian but has since made waves across Hollywood. Along with most of Disney's recent Star Wars and Marvel projects, The Volume has been used for House of the Dragon, The Batman, and more.
Some users had particular comments to offer with regard to the clear use of The Volume technology. @artmachine8096 pointed out that "if you cover up Cassie, the shot's honestly great," and added their hopes that Marvel will eventually learn to "properly use The Volume tech:"
"Marvel will one day know how to properly use the Volume tech but that day is not today. If you cover up Cassie, the shot's honestly great. Like I fully believe Scott is in the background in the 2nd shot, but there's something about Cassie and how she doesn't blend with the background"
Other fans had funnier responses to offer, including @zewnins, who jested that "the green screen budget was 2 dollars and a Cheeto."
@Yatsu_rl joked about the current trend of AI-generated art, simply saying in response to the wider angle shot, "me when I throw some random words on an AI image generator."
@EnvelopeRider hilariously compared the visuals to "a high-budget play."
With regard to these criticized shots from Quantumania, it's important to be aware that, although the February release is nearing, these may not represent finished scenes from the movie. After all, Spider-Man: No Way Home was making polishing touches just days before the premiere.
Is The Volume Hurting the MCU?
Marvel Studios has been facing plenty of controversy surrounding its VFX throughout Phase 4, and the latest criticism of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania certainly raises concerns that the trend will continue - despite the studio's recent moves to ensure more quality control moving forward.
Aside from the massive increase in workload thanks to the addition of the Disney+ series to the MCU slate - which may be making Marvel Studios "horrible" to work for from a VFX perspective - one of the few changes that could be impacting the look of these superhero projects in the addition of The Volume.
Thor: Love and Thunder was the first MCU entry to employ the filming technology on a wide scale and was met with a slew of criticism for its VFX and noticeable use of The Volume. Although projects such as House of the Dragon, The Mandalorian, and The Batman were praised for the visual masterpieces created with the technology.
So clearly, any problems in the resultant shots created using The Volume are not the direct result of the technology itself, but more how it was utilized. This could mean here that the arguably disappointing CGI Marvel Studios has put out as of late may be the result of overworked VFX houses and rushed production.
Thanks to recent gorgeous releases such as Andor and Avatar: The Way of Water, the standards for modern CGI have been raised greatly. Perhaps with Marvel Studios now taking measures to ensure more quality control as it re-evaluates its future slate, this may lead to more time being taken on perfecting VFX.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania hits theaters on February 17.