Marvel movies are CGI-heavy, mainly due to the otherworldly elements and different worlds that almost every project explores. From flying superheroes to unique alien creatures, the MCU has no shortage of characters and planets that can be showcased on screen. While the VFX work of the MCU films is generally praised, some films, such as Black Panther, are criticized for their bad CGI.
Despite that, the visual effects department is still one of the main topics being discussed after every project's release. For example, the VFX breakdown of Spider-Man: No Way Home gave fans an extensive view of Tobey Maguire's suit and how Sandman was created for the movie.
VFX artists also sit down for interviews to reveal intriguing behind-the-scenes details, such as the topic of how Shang-Chi's VFX was restricted by Eternals and other MCU movies.
Now, a veteran MCU director has opened up on how visual effects greatly help the MCU.
James Gunn Unveils Marvel Movies' Secret to Being Popular
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 director James Gun sat down with Deadline to talk about the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
During the interview, Gunn revealed the reason why Marvel movies are so popular today, saying that he "100%" believes that it is due to the film's visual effects. The veteran filmmaker pointed out that the studio's VFX "got to the place where [they] can make it believable that a metal guy is flying around:"
“A lot of the modern films exist today simply because of VFX. People always ask me, ‘Why are Marvel movies so popular today when they weren’t in the past?’ I tell you 100% from me, 100% because the VFX got to the place where we can make it believable that a metal guy is flying around.”
Gunn then discussed the difference between CGI and practical effects, admitting that one is better depending on the current situation:
“So many people, especially if you get on Twitter and people get into these arguments of, ‘It’s practical effects vs. VFX: which is better?’ And it’s like, guys… it’s whatever suits the situation. Oftentimes, it’s CGI. There are certain things you cannot do with practical effects. Sometimes, it’s practical effects. And then a lot of times, it’s something in between. And that’s where I sort of love to play, because people can be lazy with CGI. And they can just go in there and go, ‘Uh, we’ll figure it out later.’ And then… you gotta make stuff up. But when you plan things out, then you can put things together in such a way and we did a lot of that.”
The Peacemaker producer and writer used an unnamed TV show as an example, revealing that "it took [him] out of it so badly" due to its bad CGI work:
“I was watching a TV show last night, I won’t say what it was. Very good TV show, very premier television, you know, big budget. And then they have this fight where they’re shooting people and the blood spurts are so… it looks like someone drew them in… And it’s like, oh man, it took me out of it so badly.”
James Gunn Praises Marvel's VFX Work
James Gunn is involved in all three of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, with each of them featuring heavy CG work due to its otherworldly setting. That said, the director's latest praise of the studio's VFX work is valid.
Marvel Studios tend to push the limits when it comes to its VFX work, especially now that the scope and scale of its movies have widened. As a result, more work is needed to complete the CGI aspect of the films.
For example, Avengers: Endgame featured 2,496 visual effects shots, but that is a given due to a fully digital villain and an epic final battle. However, WandaVision has more VFX shots than Endgame, with the main culprit being the recreation of the entire town of Westview.
WandaVision's VFX shot count is a clear sign of things to come for the visual effects department for Phase 4. The franchise's exploration of the Multiverse also means that CG work is expected to expand since the scope will reach far beyond Earth and the cosmos.
At this point, Gunn's comments could likely serve as an added morale boost for Marvel's VFX department as the team sets out to work on a massive amount of CG work in the Multiverse saga.
James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is set to premiere in theaters on May 5, 2023.