Phase 5 of the MCU got off to a tepid start last Friday with the premiere of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Although it managed to outperform box office expectations during its opening weekend, reactions to the film have been mixed, resulting in Marvel’s second-ever “rotten” score on Rotten Tomatoes with only 48% of critics awarding it a positive review. One common point of criticism concerns the sequel’s visual effects, with many reviews taking aim at the “shoddy” CGI backgrounds. But surprisingly, the digital wizards tasked with bringing the Quantum Realm to life know that it isn’t their best work. And the VFX artists weren’t afraid to lay the blame at Marvel’s feet in a new exposé published by Vulture.
Using pseudonyms, three VFX artists who worked on Quantumania explained why the movie’s CGI didn’t reach its full potential. In the end, it all boils down to lack of time and resources. The workers claim to have been “severely understaffed” and faced an “unrealistically short deadline” to finish the film in time for its February debut, working 80-hour weeks for months to get everything done. One source, “Jim,” even shared that Marvel diverted several crew members to work on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which was in post-production at the same time as Quantumania. That film also got dinged by critics for its own lackluster CGI.
“For Ant-Man, there were a lot of editorial changes happening toward the latter third and fourth of the project that were just too late,” said Jim. “There’s a point of no return. Why certain things were changed, why certain notes were nitpicked longer than they should have been — that’s on Marvel. But it definitely did cause a lot of tension, turmoil, and weight on everybody.”
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This isn’t the first time that Marvel has faced backlash for its treatment of VFX workers. As Jim notes, artists tend to keep quiet because they don’t want to “jeopardize their livelihood” with their complaints. But he was still confused as to why the studio, being the box office juggernaut that it is, was unwilling to dig a bit deeper into its seemingly bottomless wallet and hand over more cash in order to make Quantumania look better.
“A lot of us are sitting here thinking, ‘The money is there. Why is it not coming down?’” recalled Jim. “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.”
“I think there was so much potential for this story, for the visual effects in general,” added Jim. “I think the movie is getting the reviews it’s been getting because Marvel is doubling down as much as possible on constricting quality. They’re squeezing blood out of stones. And we’re out of blood.”
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is now playing in theaters everywhere.
What did you think of the film’s visual effects? Let us know in the comment section below!
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Marvel VFX artists. Also Marvel VFX artists.