Top 10 Mindblowing MCU Special Effects REVEALED

Credits: Adrian Sousa Liam Schell

Script written by Michael Wynands.

The movies are indeed epic and entertaining, but the work that goes into making them? Truly unbelievable. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Mindblowing MCU Special Effects Revealed.

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Top 10 Mindblowing MCU Special Effects Revealed


The movies are indeed epic and entertaining, but the work that goes into making them? Truly unbelievable. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Mindblowing MCU Special Effects Revealed .

For this list, we’ll be looking behind the scenes of the MCU to see how they brought these awe-inspiring feats of visual FX work to life.

#10: The Magical Realities of the Sorcerer Supreme
“Doctor Strange” (2016)

The 14th feature-length entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe was proof of the fact that Marvel isn’t interested in limiting themselves to traditional “superhero movies”. And in order to bring the magical action-fantasy of Doctor Strange to life, VFX supervisor Stéphane Ceretti and his team were charged with the daunting task of creating mind-bending realities that were nonetheless functional. Though the “Inception” comparisons are inevitable, Ceretti says that their visuals in the film are also very much rooted in classic visual illusions, requiring approximately 200 shots to create the mind-bending folding Manhattan mirror sequence.

#9: Expressive Ultron
“Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015)

When you’re doing a villain made entirely of CGI, you run a very serious risk of having them feel two-dimensional on the big screen. And according to insiders, Ultron didn’t really come to life as a character until the motion capture actor behind him, James Spader, started filming. The nuanced performance and personality that Spader brought to the character was apparently so complex that the VFX team had to rework Ultron’s final form in order to accomodate all of these details. In addition to the approximately 12000 sensors on his body, Spader wound up wearing 600 nodes on his face alone. And that’s how you build the world’s most charismatic robot.


#8: Rocking Korg
“Thor: Ragnarok” (2017)

Speaking of impressive mo-cap performances, how about this standout character from Thor’s third film? Like with Ultron, the challenge of bringing this being to life convincingly lay in the very material that he’s made out of. Korg, the Kronan, is basically a living pile of rocks. Thankfully, they’d already laid the groundwork designing another Kronan in “Thor: The Dark World”. For that film, the VFX department digitally built the creature out of hundreds of individual pieces of stone, all laid over an internal structure that would guide and limit the character’s range of motion. For Korg, they upped it to “1,334 individual pieces of rock”, paying particular attention, again, to the face.

#7: Elderly Peggy Carter
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014)

Aging an actor is something that Hollywood has been doing for decades, but rarely have they done it convincingly. Practical makeup works, but it often limits expressiveness. Older stand-ins can be used, but that’s less than ideal, especially when the scene in question is an emotional one - as was the case when Steve goes to visit an elderly Peggy Carter. Dissatisfied with the either of the above-mentioned options, the crew used some CGI magic to digitally age Peggy, and it’s hard to argue with the results. Actress Hayley Atwell got to perform unencumbered by makeup, and then the VFX department digitally added wrinkling and textural elements from the face an elderly woman.

#6: Bugging Out
“Ant-Man” (2015)

This film about unlikely hero Scott Lang has a lot of moving parts, and operating across the various scales of play required careful planning. Perhaps the most essential recurring effect that they had to develop, though, was the fundamental act of shrinking and growing. In a move that surely brought a smile to comic book purists, they went back to the source material. Artist Jack Kirby would overlay Ant-Man at various sizes, and that’s what they tried to do on the big screen. Given the many settings and movements across which this occurs however, it reportedly proved to be among the most challenging effects to implement throughout the film.

#5: Hulking Out
“The Avengers” (2012)

“The Incredible Hulk” is the forgotten child in the MCU family of films. Like Ang Lee’s “Hulk” before it, the movie, while far from awful, simply didn’t do the character justice. Thankfully, in “The Avengers”, fans finally got the Hulk of their dreams, and that’s in no small part thanks to the VFX department. Ruffalo, unlike Eric Bana and Edward Norton before him, got to bring both Banner and the Hulk to life via motion-capture technology. The good folks at Industrial Light and Magic not only captured the minutiae of Ruffalo’s movements and facial expressions, but perfectly transferred them to the Hulk using an elaborate system of models, rigs, and musculature systems.


#4: Skinny Steve
“Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011)

When Chris Evans made his debut as Captain America, he proved that this old-timey character could hold his own on the modern big screen. What many people couldn’t help but fixate on, however, was the seemingly impossible job they’d done of making Evans into a scrawny wisp of a man. In order to achieve the convincing marvel of CGI that is pre-super soldier serum Steve Rogers, they had Evans film all of his scenes in a variety of ways, and then performed digital “plastic surgery” to shrink him and give him an emaciated look. At times, they would also attach Chris’ slimmed down head onto a body double. There’s no arguing with the results!

#3: The Battle of New York
“The Avengers” (2012)

The MCU has made a habit of achieving the previously unfathomable on film. We waited for their proposed crossover movie with anticipation, but never could’ve imagined just how grand it’d be. “The Avengers” was an unprecedented feat of cinematic planning, and thankfully, the VFX department delivered a climactic battle to match. The work done on the Hulk alone is astounding, but it would be mistake to let it distract you from the many other aspects, like the design detail and flawless animation that went into the Chitauri forces. Most impressive however, is the fact that they digitally built this city from the ground up, seamlessly incorporated the actors and practical effects, and then destroyed it.

#2: The Iron Man Suit
“Iron Man” (2008)

Director Jon Favreau had the unenviable task of setting the bar for the franchise, and thankfully, he put in the time, energy and thought to make sure that Tony’s armor was the best it could be. In order to achieve maximum realism, while also ensuring that the suit could take the beating that the plot had in store for it, Favreau insisted on having a mixture of practical effects and CGI. One moment, Robert Downey Jr. would be wearing a heavily articulated suit, the next . . . it would be completely CGI. The magic… is in the fact that we as viewers are hard-pressed to tell the difference.

#1: The Airport Battle
“Captain America: Civil War” (2016)

With so many mindblowing effects happening in the foreground of the MCU films, it can be easy to overlook the more mundane, but equally crucial aspects of a scene. In this case, we’re talking about setting. Did you know that the epic superhero showdown at the airport was shot with a green screen, and that the environment was added in post-production? We’re truly living in an age of photorealistic CGI. Of course, this entire scene is one big testament to what can now be achieved with VFX. From the work involved bringing Giant Ant-Man and Spider-Man into this world, to the picture perfect aerial combat, we owe to the wizards of VFX.
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