Many have namely seen issues with the CGI of the Quantum Realm and one particular character with a giant head, as well as the use of the Volume, which made some scenes look bland and empty according to some viewers.
However, the lackluster VFX isn't due to sloppy work from the artists or companies tasked with working on the film in post-production, but rather the fact that a previous MCU film was prioritized much more than the franchise's latest installment.
How Black Panther 2 Negatively Affected Ant-Man 3
According to a recent report from Vulture, the visual effects and CGI for Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania suffered due to the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Ant-Man 3 has received harsh criticism regarding its VFX since it was released in theaters, and this report stated that actual VFX artists working for Marvel Studios stated that Quantumania didn't receive as much care as it should have, and instead most of the focus was put on Black Panther 2.
It is important to note that both films were in post-production simultaneously, which is where visual effects and CGI are worked on.
According to the report, the same VFX companies were working on both films, and according to the actual artists that were interviewed, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania was worked on to a lesser degree and the artists on that film didn't receive the proper resources that were needed because of how much Wakanda Forever was prioritized.
The report also stated that Ant-Man 3 didn't have nearly enough people working on the film, and at the same time, the workers were given an almost unreachable deadline to have the film finished.
It was also revealed that, during this time, the studio made revisions to what would be included in the final product. This forced VFX artists to work up to 80 hours per week for periods of time that lasted months. According to one of the interviewed workers, "there wasn't enough time between shifts to go back home:"
"This was like a second wave of what happened with James Cameron on Titanic, where the compositors were basically taking naps under their desks, because there wasn’t enough time between shifts to go back home, then come back. Now, the entirety of the industry that has been touched by Marvel is permanently seared, and that’s what’s causing the most burnout."
According to one of the visual effects technicians, "all the money" went to Black Panther 2, which directly affected the difference in quality between the two films. Ultimately, according to the technician, Ant-Man 3 couldn't reach the standard that other MCU movies are at in terms of VFX:
"In terms of priority, 'Wakanda Forever' was definitely at the top of the list. All the money went to that. All the best resources went to that. It’s understandable given the context — with Chadwick and everything and how well the first film did. But it did diminish the ability to carry Ant-Man all the way through."
They also revealed that Marvel Studios' decision to make last-minute changes had an effect on many workers at the company this person is employed at:
"For 'Ant-Man,' there were a lot of editorial changes happening toward the latter third and fourth of the project that were just too late. There’s a point of no return. Why certain things were changed, why certain notes were nitpicked longer than they should have been — that’s on Marvel. But it definitely did cause a lot of tension, turmoil, and weight on everybody at [company name redacted]."
The worker went on to reveal that the final product doesn't fully hide the "shortcuts" that were made in order to get the film done in time. It was also revealed that "editorial cuts were made" in an attempt to make things look as clean as possible because "there just wasn't enough time:"
"Unfortunately, it is noticeable that there were shortcuts. Certain things were used to cover up incomplete work. Certain editorial cuts were made to not show as much action or effects as there could have been — likely because there just wasn’t enough time to render everything. There was a lot of shortening and rolling of shots (rolling is when you don’t shorten or lengthen a shot — you just move it a few frames in the cut)."
Some people may ask why the VFX artists wouldn't stand up against the studio and say that they were asking for too much. The interviewed worker stated they were afraid to "jeopardize (their) livelihood," and that they felt like they "don't have the power to say anything" to executives:
"Why didn’t we push back? You don’t want to do anything that’s going to jeopardize your livelihood in the slightest. Part of that means when an executive decision comes down the line that says, 'This is what we’re going to do,' you just assume you don’t have the power to say anything against it. You can’t be like, 'Well, that’s kind of shitty. Shouldn’t we do something better?' Because that will never happen."
Ultimately, the artist stated that, in their opinion, the decision to not dedicate some more money to pay more VFX artists comes down "to human greed:"
"A lot of us are sitting here thinking, 'The money is there. Why is it not coming down?' Marvel spending a bit more money to pay more VFX people wouldn’t make that much of a difference for the executives all the way at the top. But if it comes down to them not being comfortable with their bank numbers and us working until burnout, we lose out every time. Honestly, I equate it to human greed."
Should Some MCU Projects Be Prioritized Over Others?
There's nothing wrong with Marvel Studios putting more focus on Black Panther 2 than Ant-Man 3. The former was released before the latter, and after the success of the first film, it was expected to be a bigger hit at the box office.
However, if the studio is going to go that route and put more attention on one film than another, it needs to do one of two things - spend the money to hire more VFX artists or delay the project altogether.
There have been projects in the past where VFX workers have expressed their displeasure with working for Marvel Studios because of the stress of meeting impossible deadlines and being overworked to the point where they leave the VFX industry altogether.
With the heavy amount of post-production work that goes into MCU films, a solution where artists are paid fairly, aren't overworked, and are given the proper time should be a top priority.
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania is now playing in theaters and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is streaming on Disney+.