It's no exaggeration to say that Spider-Man: No Way Home was easily one of the biggest Spider-Man films of all time, probably even of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movie has so much to juggle. The story has to pick up the cliffhanger that Far From Home ended with, introduce five former Spidey villains, loop in Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange, and bring three generations of Spider-Men onto the screen at the same time—among other things.
It's truly a miracle that the film was even able to be pulled off, especially in pandemic times like these. However, there was a weaker element of the project which many fans have pointed out from time to time: the VFX.
It isn't all bad; for example, the entire Mirror Dimension sequence with Doctor Strange and Spidey looked fantastic. However, other elements were questionable at times. Things such as Holland's CGI suits, several shots within the final battle sequence at the Statue of Liberty, and the one that gets the most flack: Andrew Garfield stepping through the portal for the first time.
This all makes sense, given some newly revealed information about how new CGI shots were being submitted down to the wire.
Marvel Reworked Some Spider-Man VFX
In an interview with Comic Book, VFX Supervisor Scott Edelstein from Digital Domain revealed some new details about his time working on the biggest film of last year: Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Edelstein revealed that he and the company are "always kind of pushing [the] envelope" when it comes to how close to release they finish up their VFX work. According to him, the team "delivered final shots into the second week of December":
"We're always kind of pushing that envelope, especially on Marvel films. I think we started becoming involved around February-ish, started developing these kinds of things like March, where we're building assets and figuring out Sandman and starting to build the hybrid environment... so you're talking about quite a bit of time before the movie releases, which was in December. So I think that we delivered final shots into the second week of December or something like that. It was really, really close. If they're not going to do stereo on a show or have a 3D release or something like that, then really you can go right up until it comes out theaters nowadays with digital releases and everything, right?"
He went on to mention that sometimes studios will "want to add shots or do addition shots for like the video release of behind the scenes," such as the case with No Way Home:
"We're picking that stuff up and running with it all the way up to the end, really. And sometimes, even after say the feature film delivers for the North American audience, they'll want to add shots or do additional shots for like the video release or behind the scenes and this and that. I think we were still doing shots like into mid-January or something, on the show that's delivered in December."
The Spider-Man VFX Could Have Been Worse
It's sad that the VFX couldn't have been better, but it certainly didn't seem to take away from the experience all too much for most audiences, especially looking at how successful it was at the box office.
Submitting new shots right up until the release is becoming more and more common these days, with last-minute adjustments being easier to pull off. Before digital films, literal films would have to be shipped to movie theaters, which allowed no time for changes. Now, it's a simple re-render, download onto a hard drive, and overnight shipment.
For those who may wonder about why some shots were clearly better than others, there's more to that as well. Besides the time crunch, Marvel Studios sources out different scenes and elements of the films to various VFX houses. This can sometimes lead to an uneven visual experience if things don't line up properly.
Thankfully, despite some VFX hiccups, No Way Home was still a near-perfect film for most fans who saw it—or at least, that's what the internet makes it seem like.
Spider-Man: No Way Home hits digital marketplaces on March 22 and physical home media on April 12.