Marvel Studios took major steps toward expanding the MCU with 2021's Eternals by introducing more than a dozen important cosmic players. While the core team with players like Angelina Jolie's Thena and Richard Madden's Ikaris carried the core plot, the two post-credits scenes changed the game in various ways. That started off by introducing Harry Styles' Eros and Patton Oswalt's Pip the Troll as the pair teleported onto the Domo.
While Eternals struggled critically upon its worldwide release, the movie had to deal with other major struggles behind the scenes long before that as well. Marvel was able to complete all filming for the movie before the pandemic hit, but the team was forced to finish all of its VFX work remotely as Eternals faced release delays.
One specific piece of VFX work that raised some eyebrows was the CGI for Pip the Troll, an obscure Marvel character that made headlines upon his mid-credits scene debut.
Following Eternals' release on Disney+, the film's VFX supervisor shared his own comments on why that came to be.
Eternals VFX Supervisors on Pip the Troll's CGI
In an interview with The Wrap, Eternals VFX supervisors Stephane Ceretti and Matt Aitken touched on the VFX work done on Patton Oswalt's Pip the Troll in the film's mid-credits scene.
The artists revealed that Oswalt "did the onset reference performance" while wearing knee pads to get his head at the right height for the post-production work. This was all captured during additional photography in later 2020, about a year and a half before the movie debuted in theaters:
Matt Aitken: "Patton Oswalt, who is somebody I’ve followed for years and years, who’s a friend of the visual effects community, as he host the VES Awards every year for us, did the onset reference performance with knee pads on, on his knees, so that his head was the right height."
Stephane Ceretti: "And we shot that during the additional photography. It was a different ending."
Ceretti admitted that this was a big challenge for the team to complete in time for release, but he and Aitken agreed that it helped add something new to the MCU:
Stephane Ceretti: "We did that pretty quick at the end... Let’s be honest. But it was a bit challenging to get that done in time, but we did what we could. It turned out okay. It’s…"
Matt Aitken: "Another new thing to the MCU."
Stephane Ceretti: "Yes."
In the end, it all came down to a time crunch as the team worked through the nuances of Oswalt's performance and got everything approved design-wise. The duo also agreed that it was "going to be hard to beat" Harry Styles in that same scene, but they're looking forward to more opportunities with Pip down the road:
Matt Aitken: "And so, just try trying different things out. And I think I might have said to you at one point, Steph, we’re getting close to our hard out. We need this much time. If we’re going to change the design again, and build the facial rig, and get all the nuances of the facial performance, we’re going to need to have that approval of the design right here. And then I think we went way past that."
Stephane Ceretti: "We were way past that. I was like, 'Guys, we got to go. We really got to go. But what if we try this. We got to go. Try this. Okay, we’ll try this.' We’ve all been there, but I mean, in the end you’re putting, for the first time, a CG character next to Harry Styles. And you’re thinking, 'Hmm, Harry Styles is going to be hard to beat.' It is what it is. I still think it’s a fun moment. I still think it’s a lot of opportunities for fun stories later down the line. I hope it’s a character we’re going to see more, because he’s hilarious."
CGI Issues for Pip in Eternals
Every MCU project post-Infinity Saga has had its fair share of issues to deal with, whether it be with production or release windows. This applied heavily to Eternals as well, which was meant to release a year earlier than it did and had to be completed from home through most of 2021.
Even for a character that only saw a few minutes of screen time, Marvel Studios has a standard when it comes to heroes and villains that come to life through CGI. These quotes make it clear that the team behind Eternals simply did the best job they could with the resources and challenges at hand, especially getting to work with Patton Oswalt in the role.
This also came with the challenges of shooting additional photography, which was made even more difficult with the pandemic still a big issue. Although every MCU film prepares for extra footage to be shot before it releases, Eternals was one of the first to take that on in this new era with so many outside forces to deal with.
In the end, of all the issues viewers had with Eternals, the VFX work didn't seem to make too big of an impact on the viewing experience. With Pip likely set for future MCU outings, Marvel also has the chance to shake things up with the character should they exercise that option.
Eternals is now streaming on Disney+.