Spider-Man: No Way Home featured returns for previous Spider-Man villains from past Spider-Man movies under Sony's slate. Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin, Alfred Molina's Doctor Octopus, and Thomas Hayden Church's Sandman serve as representatives of Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man trilogy. Meanwhile, Jamie Foxx's Electro and Rhys Ifhans' Lizard round out the villainous five from Andrew Garfield's The Amazing Spider-Man franchise.
No Way Home is Tom Holland's third solo film as the MCU's web-slinger. The return of past villains was due to a botched spell by Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange that accidentally unleashed the Multiverse into the MCU.
The villains served as an integral part of No Way Home's marketing, with official footage showcasing different sneak peeks at the characters' new designs and motivations. In the film's final trailer, one of the most talked-about moments is the edited footage of its money shot where it shows Lizard being attacked by an unknown force.
The film later revealed that it was Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man who launched the attack. Now, a special breakdown of the iconic scene was revealed.
Spider-Men Trio Scene Breakdown
Spider-Man: No Way Home VFX supervisor Chris Waegner sat down with before & afters to break down a major scene involving the three Spider-Men.
Waegner opened the discussion by doing a deep dive into Thomas Hayden Church's Sandman from Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3. When asked if the CG work was easier this time around, the visual artist admitted that it helped that computer technology and simulation software improved over time, sharing that they were able to use it to their advantage for Sandman:
"Well, yeah, I would tend to agree with what Kelly said in that regard. When we did the original Sandman in 'Spider-Man 3,' Imageworks was pushing the envelope with the computer technology and software at that time. As luck would have it, computer technology and simulation software has gotten much better with time. Having the ability to simulate hundreds of millions of grains of sand in a shot, would’ve taken days and days to calculate previously. With new technology, we were able to optimise these simulations to our advantage, most notably our ability to quickly iterate on multiple versions of the large Sandman character for our sequence.
Waegner continued by discussing how the team developed "these complex Sandman FX simulations" in the movie, explaining how the larger version of Sandman came to be:
"Once a character look had been established, we were able to quickly iterate on these complex Sandman FX simulations within shot context. For some of the scenes with our large version of Sandman – there are moments when he’s more of a physical storm, made up of not just sand but earthly elements all mixed together being drawn from the island environment."
The Marvel VFX artist then explained that the large version of Sandman allowed the team to "explore a chaotic aspect to him" while also sharing that it became a "big undertaking" as it progressed:
"This large size allowed us to explore a chaotic aspect to him – as the material is drawn from his surroundings to help structurally form him, it is also flying off him much like a tornado of sorts, or just this giant storm of a villain. That concept became a big undertaking since it was important for us to visually convey the chaos of Sandman when presenting to Jon and Kelly. Fortunately, our early FX optimization development allowed us quick simulation iterations thereby securing an initial concept buy off of him being this physical storm at a larger scale."
While Waegner pointed out that it was a "bit of a learning process," the trust between the VFX team and the filmmakers helped during the development phase:
"During shot production, this became a bit of a learning process, since it wasn’t possible to creatively submit animation with a giant Sandman FX simulation for creative buyoff. Based upon our early character development of Sandman and his storm, a trust had been established with the filmmakers. This trust allowed us to present proxy versions of Sandman within an animation context, once approved we could quickly move onto the gigantic FX simulations. Even though it might take a couple days for a shot to run though the entire pipeline (animation, simulation, lighting, comp) the end result was film quality in a fraction of the time. I believe this approach was quite successful in allowing our filmmakers to see high quality shot work quickly.
Alongside the breakdown, a close-up shot of the three Spider-Men fighting Electro, Lizard, and Sandman was also unveiled:
No Way Home's Iconic Spider-Man Moment
This latest VFX breakdown from No Way Home offers a glimpse of the complex process of crafting CGI scenes in the threequel.
Given that the threequel's five villains already showed up in past Spider-Man movies, fans may have felt that it would be easy to recreate the designs of these characters. However, this breakdown proves that it is still a lengthy process, especially considering the advancement in technology in the film department.
Sandman's design has been notable ever since the character's live-action debut in 2007's Spider-Man 3. The villain is known for his shifting physical attributes due to his sand-based powers, and No Way Home managed to utilize them to the fullest.
It's worth noting that Thomas Hayden Church never even stepped foot on No Way Home's set, with the actor only lending his voice for the role. That said, this development added to the already challenging situation of crafting scenes for Sandman, but based on the final cut, the VFX team delivered on all fronts.
Waegner's comment about the trust that was established between the VFX crew and No Way Home's filmmakers is a good example of the solid working relationship of the team. This further cements why the MCU threequel is breaking box office records and generating praise from fans and critics ever since its release.
All in all, the three Spider-Men's team-up in No Way Home's final battle is a memorable moment, and exploring how it was made makes it more meaningful when rematching the movie.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is now playing in theaters worldwide.