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James Gunn Explains Why Marvel Films Are So Successful

By Mabel Judith Andrady
June 19,2022

There is a lot of CGI in Marvel films because so many of them involve fantastical elements and alternate universes. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has various interesting characters and planets to explore, from space-faring superheroes to alien creatures with distinctive abilities. While most MCU movies have received high marks for their visual effects, Black Panther has been singled out for its poor CGI.

Despite this, the VFX team is always a hot topic of conversation following the premiere of a movie or TV show. For instance, Spider-Man: No Way Home’s visual effects breakdown showed fans how Tobey Maguire’s suit and Sandman were made.

Artists working on the visual effects for films like Shang-Chi and Eternals often sit down for interviews to discuss such behind-the-scenes topics as the limitations these films placed on their VFX budgets. A seasoned MCU director has finally spoken out about VFX’s invaluable role in the MCU.

James Gunn explains why Marvel films are so successful

James Gunn

James Gunn

The director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, James Gunn, recently spoke with Deadline about the MCU’s overwhelming critical and commercial success.

In the interview, Gunn stated his “100% ” belief that the success of modern Marvel films is due to their special effects. The VFX team “got to the place where [they] can make it believable that a metal guy is flying around,” the seasoned director said.

“A lot of the modern films exist today simply because of VFX. People always ask me, ‘Why are Marvel movies so popular today when they weren’t in the past?’ I tell you 100% from me, 100% because the VFX got to the place where we can make it believable that a metal guy is flying around.”

Gunn then compared computer-generated imagery to practical effects, acknowledging that there are times when each is preferable.

“So many people, especially if you get on Twitter and people get into these arguments of, ‘It’s practical effects vs. VFX: which is better?’ And it’s like, guys… it’s whatever suits the situation. Oftentimes, it’s CGI. There are certain things you cannot do with practical effects. Sometimes, it’s practical effects. And then a lot of times, it’s something in between. And that’s where I sort of love to play, because people can be lazy with CGI. And they can just go in there and go, ‘Uh, we’ll figure it out later.’ And then… you gotta make stuff up. But when you plan things out, then you can put things together in such a way and we did a lot of that.”

The producer and writer of Peacemaker referenced an unnamed TV show, saying that the poor CGI “took [him] out of it so badly.”

“I was watching a TV show last night, I won’t say what it was. Very good TV show, very premier television, you know, big budget. And then they have this fight where they’re shooting people and the blood spurts are so… it looks like someone drew them in… And it’s like, oh man, it took me out of it so badly.”

James Gunn Applauds Marvel’s Visual Effects

James Gunn Comments on Thanos' Rumored MCU Prequel

James Gunn Comments on Thanos’ Rumored MCU Prequel

James Gunn has worked on all three Guardians of the Galaxy films, and the films’ fantastical settings necessitate extensive computer-generated imagery. However, the director’s recent high praise for the studio’s visual effects is well-deserved.

Since expanding the scale and scope of its movies, Marvel Studios has become known for its innovative use of visual effects. This means that the CGI parts of the films will take longer to finish.

For example, the final battle in Avengers: Endgame featured an epic 2,496 visual effects shots, but this was expected given the film’s fully digital villain. WandaVision, on the other hand, has more visual effects shots than Endgame does, largely since the entire town of Westview had to be recreated.

WandaVision’s high VFX shot count for Phase 4 indicates great things to come from the visual effects team. Since the franchise will be expanding its scope to include the Multiverse, more CGI work is to be expected.

Gunn’s words could serve as a morale boost for Marvel’s VFX team as they prepare to tackle a massive amount of computer-generated work for the Multiverse saga.

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