Spider-Man: No Way Home was the biggest MCU film since Avengers: Endgame, netting almost $2 billion at the worldwide box office. One major technical aspect that both of those films share, along with many others in today's time, is computer-generated imagery, or CGI for short. It allows filmmakers to really dig into their respective sandboxes and go past the limitations of practical filming. For example, it wouldn't be possible for Tom Holland to actually swing through New York City without the high risk of danger, so that is one instance where CGI comes in handy.
When many people think of CGI in a Spider-Man movie, the big action set pieces, the web-slinging, or maybe even Electro's lightning probably comes to mind. However, something that most fans probably haven't considered to be computer-generated is the Spider-Man suit itself.
The majority of the audience more than likely assumes that they are just seeing some kind of fitted costume, and while that is true for the regular red and black Upgraded Spider-Man suit, others such as the Integrated Suit that Peter wears in a large portion of No Way Home are made using CGI.
How Spider-Man Suits Are Made With CGI
The VFX magazine befores & afters recently posted a breakdown video of exactly how Tom Holland's Integrated Suit from Spider-Man: No Way Home was made through CGI.
The video showed that, during filming, Holland would wear his normal red and white Spider-Man costume known as the Upgraded Suit, and then, in post-production, it was turned into a "photo-reeled, digital hybrid Spider-Man suit."
In post-production, Holland's body had to be edited out, and then the CGI interactive suit was placed over him.
The breakdown also goes into how crucial it is for the VFX team to develop a suit that looks so realistic that it is indistinguishable from an actual costume. They go on to talk about how it must be able to interact with other characters, blend in with its surroundings, and fit Holland perfectly.
The full breakdown of how a fully CGI suit was made for Spider-Man: No Way Home can be seen below.
CGI in Future Marvel Movies
CGI often becomes a hot talking point among moviegoers, with a lot of debate about how good or bad it is. When it comes to Spider-Man: No Way Home, it has received a fair bit of criticism online for having CGI that fans claim to be lackluster. However, as this video shows, the VFX teams are able to pull off some fairly impressive feats. When viewers were sitting in their respective theaters and watching No Way Home, most people probably had no idea that it wasn't a real costume.
It is important to remember that technology is always evolving. Computer-generated imagery in 2022 is much more advanced than it was in 2002, and it will continue to get better as time passes. For example, projects like The Mandalorian use a rather new method of filming known as The Volume. It is a massive device that is designed to reduce the number of green screens, and it allows filmmakers to create an environment that looks nearly lifelike.
Upcoming MCU films such as Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 are reportedly putting The Volume to use. However, even though it does away with environmental CGI, it wouldn't help with something such as a Spider-Man suit.
At the end of the day, CGI will have a place in MCU films for years to come. It is likely that some sort of advanced technology will come along at some point and take its place, but as of right now, VFX teams are working as hard as they can to bring a product to the big screen that looks as realistic as it can.