As Marvel Studios moves from the end of 2021 to the beginning of 2022, the MCU still has one major release out in the world with the theatrical run for Spider-Man: No Way Home. Already breaking box-office records at every turn, the MCU's 27th film is quickly becoming one of the franchise's biggest accomplishments from both critical reviews and fan reception alike.
Following nearly two years of leaks and announcements regarding No Way Home, the hype for the movie's release centered on the use of classic villains and heroes from Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's live-action Spider-Man movies. From Jaime Foxx's Electro and Alfred Molina's Doc Ock on one side to both Maguire and Garfield teaming up with Tom Holland's hero, the film served as a celebration of all things Spider-Man.
Given the current state of world affairs, one of No Way Home's biggest accomplishments was bringing so many high-profile stars to the set at one time to make the movie come together. However, there was a small number of individuals that never actually made it to the set in person, one of whom was confirmed in a recent interview about the experience.
No Way Home Designer Reveals Actor Not on Set
In an interview with Befores & Afters, Spider-Man: No Way Home production visual effects supervisor Kelly Port spoke on how the movie brought Thomas Hayden Church's Sandman to life in his return from 2007's Spider-Man 3.
Port discussed the two sides of Church's character that show him as "more humanoid" when he's trapped in the Sanctum Sanctorum with the other villains. While crediting the studios that brought that action to life on the big screen, she shared her excitement for just how much the "electricity...pops":
"There were two parts to him, where he’s more humanoid and talking, and when he is in the sanctum. Digital Domain did a lot of that work. And then Luma did the sequence that we called the power line corridor, which is where Sandman is first introduced. And Electro is also introduced and they have that little battle before they all meet and then get sent to the sanctum. I have to say, if you’re able to see that in extended dynamic range, for both that sequence and the end battle, it really looks cool in that higher dynamic range. That electricity just pops."
Port then explored how other visual effects companies brought "the much bigger Sandman" into the fray for scenes like the final battle, specifically with the debris and action from the Statue of Liberty battle:
"Then Imageworks, for the end battle, they did the much bigger Sandman with big FX sims. There were a lot of big sims in the end battle, not only with Sandman, but for the shield falling and crashing through all the scaffolding and millions and millions of pieces all interacting with each other, the crane falling through Sandman’s head and all that good stuff. I remember when we were first interviewing companies, there’s a little bit of collective post-traumatic stress disorder with anyone who had previously worked on Sandman. And so I knew that going in, I had a feeling this was going to be challenging both technically and creatively, just to get that character looking right and behaving right. But I think we were successful in the end. I think it looked pretty cool."
When asked if Church shot any material on set, Port revealed that the actor only provided a voice role and that he wasn't there in person for the shoot, which explains why No Way Home reused footage of Church's Flint from 2007's Spider-Man 3:
"Well, we had his voice. We weren’t able to get a lot of visuals on him, but we were able to get his voice for sure and we got scans and textures and things like that."
Sandman: Working From Home
Upon Spider-Man: No Way Home's release, fans noticed that both Rhys Ifans' Lizard and Thomas Hayden Church's Sandman were almost completely brought to screen through CGI work. Both villains were only shown in their non-human forms, and when fans did see the actors themselves on screen, it was through recycled footage from appearances in their Spider-Man movies of the past.
Port's quote simply confirms what fans already believed with the information that Church never made it to the set to actually perform his role in person. Whether this was due to COVID-related issues or not is a mystery, but the team behind No Way Home made the best of what they could get from the actor as he reprised his classic sand-based antagonist.
As for the actual technical work to bring the actor's villain to the big screen, Port shared another example of just how intense the work was that went into making such a unique comic character stand out and look the way he was supposed to amongst so much other mind-blowing action.
With Marvel and Sony's Spider-Man threequel attempting arguably the biggest crossover event since Avengers; Endgame, the VFX team had their work cut out for them in making sure villains like Church's Sandman and multiple heroes looked just right on screen. If fan reviews and box office results are any indication, the team accomplished that goal in a big way.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is now playing in theaters worldwide.