New Thor: Love and Thunder Photos Reveal Surprising CGI In Opening Scene

By Aeron Mer Eclarinal Posted:
Thor: Love and Thunder logo, Christian Bale as Gorr, Jonathan Brugh as Rapu

Thor: Love and Thunder made MCU history by being the only Marvel movie (so far) that used The Volume during its production. This isn't a coincidence considering director Taika Waititi's expertise with such technology after using it in for Star Wars with The Mandalorian

However, this move badly impacted Love and Thunder, with a good chunk of viewers criticizing its CGI. Some have pointed out that the CGI didn't look stunning in several sequences, such as the black and white fight in the Shadow Realm and the appearances of characters, such as Korg. 

It got to a point that even its own director and Valkryie actress Tessa Thompson poked fun at the movie's CGI. Now, a special breakdown of some CGI-heavy scenes in the movie has emerged online, allowing fans to see the complexity behind the process. 

Thor: Love and Thunder's CGI Breakdown 

Rising Sun Pictures revealed a detailed breakdown of how CGI was incorporated into significant scenes in Marvel Studios' Thor: Love and Thunder

In the breakdown, Rising Sun Pictures or RSP revealed that the most complex work that was done for the Taika Waititi-directed movie was during its opening sequence. The scene was crafted with the help of RSP visual artists' augmentation of the imagery by adding environmental extensions and dust and sand simulations. The studio also enhanced Bale's practical make-up to visually showcase Gorr's emaciated look. 

Before Marvel Studios' iconic fanfare came on screen, Thor 4 highlighted an intense sequence between Gorr and the menacing God, Rapu. 

Jonathan Brugh as Rapu, Thor: Love and Thunder

In the movie, the size of Rapu's crown appears to fit his stature, but the CGI breakdown revealed that this wasn't originally the case. RSP revealed Rapu's original design, with the fronds of his crown being placed in front: 

Jonathan Brugh as Rapu, Thor: Love and Thunder

In comparison, here is a closer look at the two designs of Rapu: 

Jonathan Brugh as Rapu, Thor 4

Moreover, RSP also revealed that CGI played a major role in improving the forest where Gorr and Rapu had their encounter. The studio shared that CGI was used to replace a practical forest set with an "expansive digital oasis," filling it with different elements such as plants, trees, and magical "flower Gods."

Rapu, Gorr, Thor 4

RSP CG Supervisor Ryan Kirby noted that they drew references from the Amazon rainforest and other jungles to "create colorful plant life" in the sequence: 

“It’s a very lush, green, tropical environment. We drew on a wide range of references from the Amazon rainforest and other jungles to create colorful plant-life that adds richness and variety to the frame."

Thor 4

Kirby also pointed out that the scene was meant to make audiences wonder about the existence of "something so stunning:"

"It’s grounded in reality while having a fabulous, surreal quality. It’s meant to make audiences wonder ‘How could something so stunning actually exist?’”

In addition, the adjustment to Rapu's crown also helped in making the character much bigger in size, with him effectively manhandling Gorr: 

Thor Love and Thunder VFX Opening

RSP also mentioned some challenges that they encountered while working for Love and Thunder. One of those challenges was the creation of Baby Thor, a character introduced in an extended flashback montage recounting the God of Thunder's backstory: 

Baby Thor

RSP confirmed that the baby is a wholly-digital character who is based on the real-life infant of a Marvel executive and he is created by using "animation and artificial intelligence." Senior VFX Producer Ian Cope explained the advantage of using AI and animation to create Baby Thor: 

“The advantage of this technique over standard ‘deep fake’ methods is that the performance derives from animation enhanced by a learned library of reference material. The result is a full-screen photo-real Baby Thor storming into battle.”

Baby Thor

In the movie, a hilarious montage sequence showing Thor getting back into shape was included, with Chris Hemsworth's God of Thunder training in another planet: 

Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Thor 4

RSP also unveiled a behind-the-scenes look at the particular sequence above: 

Chris Hemsworth as Thor

At the end of the movie, with Gorr defeated and Jane Foster going to Valhalla after her death, Thor decided to adopt Love as his own daughter. Love and Thunder ended with a shot of Thor and Love heading towards a battle, a tease of what's to come for the pair's MCU future: 

Thor 4 Concept Art

RSP revealed more details about the final scene, sharing that Thor and his adopted daughter traveled to the planet to save a village of garfish from a certain "P-Rex." Compositing Supervisor Francesco Cadoni noted that the scene involved "full and partial digital doubles" combined with AI-enhanced faces: 

“It was another tour de force effort from our 2D, 3D and matte painting artists. The scene combines crowds, environments, effects simulations and lightning. It also involves full and partial digital doubles with AI-enhanced faces to work with various effects elements.”

Chris Hemsworth as Thor, India Hemsworth as Love

Examining Thor 4's CGI 

Gorr's origin story in Thor: Love and Thunder was a memorable sequence since it effectively showed the character's heel turn while also justifying his motivation for doing so. That said, the complexities behind the CGI-heavy opening scene that was revealed above proved the immense detail and extensive work that was needed in order to pull off such a sequence. 

While openly criticizing any aspect of the movie is valid, this latest Thor 4 breakdown should at least lessen the blow, considering the extensive work that was done to craft stunning sequences.  From analyzing the tiniest details to making creative decisions such as Rapu's design, it's clear that the VFX artists' work shouldn't be invalidated. Instead, external factors such as the pandemic and the riff involving the VFX industry could be the culprit. 

Many would agree that it's unfair that the brunt of the criticism is directed toward the VFX artists. In a way, these kinds of breakdowns serve as compelling overviews of the visual artists' hard work in such big-budget movies, and this should be viewed more closely amid the ongoing issue between Marvel and the VFX community.  

Thor: Love and Thunder is now playing in theaters worldwide. 

- In This Article: Thor: Love and Thunder
- About The Author: Aeron Mer Eclarinal
Aeron is a news/features writer and Content Lead for The Direct who has been working for the site since March 2020. From writing about the inter-connectivity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to having an extended knowledge about DC TV's Arrowverse, Aeron's expertise has since expanded into the realm of reality TV, K-drama, animated, and live-action shows from Netflix,  Disney+, Prime Video, MGM+, Peacock, Paramount+, and Max. When he isn't writing and watching all things MCU, Aeron is heavily invested with the NBA (go Celtics!) and occasionally watches thrilling matches in the WWE.