Spider-Man: No Way Home offered a true homage to the history of the wall-crawler, bringing back Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's Peter Parkers along with five of their most iconic villains for a Multiversal romp.
No Way Home saw these villains pulled from their timelines moments before their tragic deaths. So the whole bunch required intense CGI work to de-age them to resemble their last appearance, which in some cases was two decades ago.
News that Alfred Molina's Doc Ock particularly would be subject to de-aging was spoiled a full eight months before release by the actor himself, which even resulted in him catching some flack from Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige.
Spider-Man: No Way Home Star Calls Out De-Aging VFX
Green Goblin actor Willem Dafoe recently participated in an auto-complete interview with WIRED in which he answered top questions from Google search, which led to some interesting comments about Spider-Man: No Way Home.
The actor was questioned whether he was de-aged with CGI for No Way Home, to which he answered he "[doesn't] think so" before criticizing the effect as "silly, because... they don't have [de-aging] down yet:"
“No, I don’t think so. Yeah, there was a couple of shots that were really fuzzy. I thought it was silly, because the de-aging thing, they don’t have down yet. And what’s the point? I don’t look that much older, I don’t think, anyway. It’s the creams.”
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter last year, VFX supervisor Kelly Port revealed that, contrary to the actor's comments, Dafoe was subject to some "very minimal" de-aging work:
“We would take great pains to not lose any facial detail, the high-frequency facial detail, like pores. When you do that, it starts to look airbrushed … so we kept all the detail that was in the original photography.”
During the auto-complete interview, he was also asked why his Green Goblin is the best, to which he declared it's "because he was the first:"
“Because he was the first Green Goblin. Is that a good answer?”
Dafoe also commented on whether he will be coming back as Green Goblin again, offering a cryptic, “Well, that is a good question.”
The actor previously revealed he would only reprise Green Goblin again "if everything was right" before sharing what he loved about playing the villain:
“If everything was right, sure. I mean, that’s a great role. I liked the fact that it’s a double role both times. Twenty years ago, and fairly recently, both times [were] very different experiences, but I had a good time on both.”
Why De-aging Was Key for Spider-Man: No Way Home
De-aging CGI is still relatively new to Hollywood, having been around since 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand but only really coming into play prominently in the last few years. As such, VFX houses are still very much working out the kinks to allow these youthful versions of actors to appear more life-like than ever.
Willem Dafoe was lucky in that he only required "very minimal" CGI work to de-age him back to 2002, due to the fact the Green Goblin actor has barely aged in the last two decades. In fact, the work done was so minimal Dafoe himself barely even noticed, except for those few "fuzzy" shots he mentioned.
Dafoe and Sandman's Thomas Haden Church both required de-aging work to more closely resemble their Sam Raimi trilogy selves. Although the most impressive work was clearly done with Alfred Molina, who now barely resembles his 2004 look and yet appears just as youthful as ever in No Way Home.
The Green Goblin actor certainly seems to be leaving the door open to coming back to his Spider-Man role once again in a future project based on his comments. Perhaps a comeback in Avengers: Secret Wars may be on the table, especially with Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man also rumored to appear.
Dafoe isn't even the only one of No Way Home's villains leaving the door open to more appearances down the road, having said he "can neither confirm nor deny" whether the Multiversal flick marked his retirement from the franchise.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is available now for physical and digital purchase.