According to one MCU VFX artist who worked on She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Marvel told the effects team to make one of the hulking characters seen in the finale uglier.
Tatiana Maslany's She-Hulk finale hit Disney+ in early October, bringing with it a number of Hulk-sized characters including the titular super-powered attorney.
But one Hulk that fans did not see coming was Jon Bass' Todd Phelps, who after being revealed to be the leader of Intellegenica took a vial of She-Hulk blood, becoming a monstrous lean green machine himself.
This moment of Hulking-out for Todd was short-lived, as Maslany's Jennifer Walters broke the very seams of reality and told all-knowing AI KEVIN that "the [Hulk] powers aren't the villain. [Todd} is" before the robot switches Todd back to his lonely, dude-bro self.
But turns out Todd's Hulk look may have been a little different, as Marvel Studios told the VFX team to make him uglier.
Turning up the Ugly on this She-Hulk Character
Speaking with Befores and Afters, Wētā FX visual effects supervisor Guy Williams revealed that Marvel Studios actually asked the team working on She-Hulk: Attorney at Law to make Jon Bass' Todd Hulk uglier for the Disney+ finale.
Willaims broke down what it was like working on the villain, saying he was " one of the most fun characters [her's] worked on" simply because "he’s just absolutely absurd."
However, the Marvel VFX veteran noted that one of the problems the team had to deal with came when they "took the actor and made a Hulk version of him to begin with," which caused Marvel to come back and say "No, no, no, no, he’s the villain. He has to look bad. He can’t look so good:"
"He was in some ways one of the most fun characters we worked on because he’s just absolutely absurd. The really fun part about it was that the actor did an amazing job of performing the role. We tried to be as absolutely faithful as possible to the result. One of the problems we ran into was that we took the actor and made a Hulk version of him to begin with, and the studio came back and said, ‘No, no, no, no, he’s the villain. He has to look bad. He can’t look so good.’"
Willaims joked, "it turns out that when you take that actor and you make him 7’1″" and "give him huge Hulk-like muscles," he "turns into an absolute Adonis:"
"It turns out that when you take that actor and you make him 7’1″ and give him huge Hulk-like muscles and chisel his face, he turns into an absolute Adonis. He was just way too attractive—that was the challenge we had with Todd. For reference, we had to find bodybuilders who didn’t work on all of their the muscles equally. For example, Todd has massively formed biceps and chest muscles, but a very thin stomach. He hasn’t done a lot of core work. Todd has massive thigh muscles, but very stumpy little peg-like calves, and his head stays small compared to his body."
To get around Todd Hulk "[looking] too beautiful" the VFX team had to "make his face really heavily lean into the blemishes and blotches," to him a "little bit more maniacal:"
"Then we had to make his face really heavily lean in to the blemishes and blotches so that he just didn’t look too beautiful. We took his rather good haircut and just messed it up even more, as if he had just been rolling around, so that he looked a little bit more maniacal."
The She-Hulk VFX artist added that turning up the ugly was not the only problem that the team faced when working on the character. The other came in wanting to "milk his [Hulk] transformation." This led to making a "rig that allowed [them] to grow the various parts of the Hulk," so that "[they] could really control and choreograph the transformation:"
"The other challenge we had with Todd was we really wanted to milk his transformation. So, instead of him just growing into Todd Hulk, the arm goes and then the feet go and then the other arm goes and the body goes, but the head’s still stuck in. So you get this moment where he almost looks like he’s about to choke because his head’s stuck down inside of his chest because it hasn’t grown yet. We had to make a rig that allowed us to grow the various parts of the Hulk out one part at a time with different sliders, so that we could really control and choreograph the transformation."
Was the Extra Work on Todd Hulk Worth it?
It is amazing to get these little peeks behind the MCU curtain, especially when it comes to something as trivial as the ugliness of a Hulked-out Todd. It was fun for fans to see the character get his own moment in the green skin, as small as it may have been.
He was perfectly grotesque, as he started to bulge from his polo shirt and scarf combo. But was this extra work really worth it?
VFX work takes time and money, and usually a lot of it. So was this small change in making the character a little bit uglier completely worth it for the team at Wētā? It is hard to say that it was.
Sure, the character ended up looking excellently ugly when he Hulked-out in the finale, but it's difficult to see how a slightly more handsome Todd Hulk would have made that big a difference.
Marvel Studios has garnered quite a reputation amongst the VFX community for instances like this, where work can be "thrown away" with little to no lead time for a fix to be implemented.
Sure, that may have not been the case, here and everything on this She-Hulk finale may have been hunky-dory, but it does bring worth an important conversation that needs to continue to be had.
She-Hulk can be streamed now on Disney+.