CG is always a hot discussion point online, especially when it comes to Marvel Studios’ productions. There’s an “it’s not the same” mentality since Avengers: Endgame wrapped and everything since Phase 4 has received quite further analysis in how exactly it looks. Interestingly enough, CG was praised for the work on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, especially on the work bringing Talokan to life. Yet, the criticism returned with the CG-heavy Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania; though some reactions even praised the CG.
Vulture has released another article from anonymous VFX workers sharing their experiences, where they unveiled that a lot of resources went towards Wakanda Forever. That isn’t too surprising given the film had an earlier release and there was a lot of pressure on a film that had the highest potential to be a big earner. Yes, Quantumania had a good box office opening but still is part of one of their smallest box office earners.
Wakanda Forever took precedence. It felt like the higher-up and supervisor roles were shifted around to put that on their plates and there was a smaller team working on Ant-Man. It was on the back burner — less of a pressing thing.
The biggest issue seems that there were some uncertainties from the director Peyton Reed, whose vision might have been changing during production and led to a point they could not return. It seems also the VFX artists were disappointed they didn’t have a chance to really bring the world to life and take shortcuts to keep the work at a certain quality. The biggest issue is when they had to take over other artists already started work which they highlight is “not how things usually go when you are working for other studios.”
I haven’t seen the finished movie yet. There were some cool sequences we were putting together that seemed promising. But there could have been more people involved on the project. Maybe more money spent. With a lot of these projects being worked on simultaneously, resources become thinner. The quality starts lacking. You can’t expect all of the VFX companies to give the highest-quality work, especially if you’re going to do it on a lower budget.
Thought another actually had a more surprising outlook, as he had less of an issue with the Quantumania work which highlights something commonly overshadowed when covering these issues: no one is affected equally. Marvel Studios is a client that works with production companies and from experience, if you are in an agency of any kind: you’ll always face last-minute changes and potential overtime trying to keep that alive. Yet, it doesn’t always affect everyone’s equality.
My experience on Quantumania was comparable to the majority of productions we [VFX specialists] work on and, therefore, not especially bad or difficult. I wouldn’t say other projects necessarily took priority or that morale was particularly bad (although one of my co-workers actually became unhappy because of the lack of work he was given on that movie — he spent days on standby only to end up doing nothing, and this went on for months). Our working conditions are often less than ideal, and Quantumania was just another in a long line.
One more artist did have some harsher words while also highlighting the stronger focus on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. They wished they would have pushed back the film, which we did see with The Marvels but likely due to it already being in the marketing cycle Marvel Studios could no longer really pull back as they otherwise would’ve just added more costs and less investment for the CG work.
A lot of us are sitting here thinking, The money is there. Why is it not coming down? Marvel spending a bit more money to pay more VFX people wouldn’t make that much of a difference for the executives all the way at the top. But if it comes down to them not being comfortable with their bank numbers and us working until burnout, we lose out every time. Honestly, I equate it to human greed.
At the end of the day, we don’t understand this CG model fully and the Internet’s overall reaction will remain the same even if these reports never saw the light of day. The CG work these artists accomplish is great and a lot of the criticism also mentioned by Vulture is fewer effects work-oriented but rather just the design choices that are done before it lands in the laps of these CG workers. Marvel Studios’ biggest issue is the freedom they want to give their directors which ends up leading to constant decision-making that adds changes throughout production.
There is a good chance this might not become a thing moving forward. More time does not always equate to better quality, as it also means more potential for changes and adaptations. Marvel Studios’ original production cycle was much shorter as Quantumania, The Marvels, and even Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 were all filmed back in 2021. There weren’t any film productions that started in 2022, very likely that they to take away any lessons they could and reshuffle how they will start moving forward.
While I’ll be on the side of “the effects were 99% of the time pretty damn good,” there’s always potential to get better. The Internet has a strong focus on singular effects that they deem “not great” while ignoring other effects issues you commonly see with any production. No film’s CG is perfect, as not everything is Avatar: Way of Water as that has a ridiculous production budget. Expecting every film to echo it will just add to the bloated budget issue already becoming apparent in Hollywood’s need to create big blockbuster success.
Ever since COVID, the market is flooded and people are overworked, not just in the CG department. Given time, things will change and we’ll likely see production studios like Marvel learn to make a change for the better. We’re just still seeing the post-COVID productions and the aftermath of that time. Plus, CG workers also need a union to protect themselves from this and create new standards in the industry. Marvel Studios is not innocent and that is evident, but we’re hopefully seeing a general positive direction after the chaos that was the pandemic’s effect on Hollywood.