Marvel Studios has always been famous for its heavy use of CGI to shape its battles, destruction, and heroic abilities, but in some cases it’s even been used to create entire characters. Characters like Thanos, the Hulk and Groot were created entirely digitally, with famous talent lending the vocals. Soon the MCU will introduce its first fully CGI She-Hulk: Lawyer.
In the nine-episode legal Disney+ comedy, Tatiana Maslany will be making her MCU as Jennifer Walters, better known as She-Hulk, Bruce Banner’s cousin. Between Maslany’s She-Hulk and Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, VFX-heavy characters will be an integral part of Marvel Studios’ next Disney+ series, so it’s important that they are of a high standard.
Unfortunately, the first trailer for She-Hulk: Lawyer was met with viral controversy as many criticized the character’s on-screen appearance. Uploading the trailer straight to Disney+ later offered a significant improvement over the version posted to YouTube, and now several VFX experts have explained why that might be.
VFX artists explain She-Hulk Bad CGI
Corridor Crew’s VFX artists have reacted to the first trailer for She-Hulk: Lawyer and offered an explanation for the CGI issues that have caused controversy in recent months.
Corridor Crew first praised a particularly realistic and believable shot in the bar before describing the trailer as “going back and forth from absolutely convincing to Shrek.” However, the group concluded that the trailer was absolutely not flaunted “Trash VFX”, Blaming internet culture for the overly negative reaction.
The artists explained that the issue appears to stem from fans reacting to the YouTube upload of the trailer, which had been compressed to reduce file size, typically resulting in lower video quality.
Because of the compression they exported it with before uploading it to YouTube, all of that detail has been smoothed out, so you end up with a very rubbery, smooth green look. These details are much more noticeable when the trailer is uploaded to Disney+.
The artists went on to explain that the same issues didn’t plague Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk in the trailer due to the details on his face — like stubble, crow’s feet, and forehead wrinkles “Cannot remove compression:”
“Typically, women’s faces in pop culture are very smooth. Comparing her to Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalos Hulk) there is so much detail that we can see that compression won’t be able to remove it.”
The uncanny valley theory suggests that human-like features make artificial characters more familiar to audiences, but once a character tries and fails to mimic a realistic human, they enter what is known as the uncanny valley. The group shared their belief that She-Hulk resides in this area while Hulk does not:
“He’s not sitting in the uncanny valley for us. First, because he doesn’t look that much like a human. His face is square! at this point that it doesn’t trigger our senses in the same way that She-Hulk does.”
The artists drew attention to one shot of Jennifer Walters at work that caused particular controversy, admitting that her face appeared to be somewhat smooth and rubbery animated. However, the group emphasized the difficulty of creating a fully CGI character and named him “one of the hardest things ever.”
An artist emphasized that while a few shots should not be “impeccable, completely convincing”, These will go largely unnoticed in the grand scheme of the nine-episode series:
“So two or three shots are not perfect, totally convincing. Over the course of a series, when you start, you watch the show for five minutes, and then suddenly you take the character at face value. And even if one shot isn’t as perfect as the other shots, pretty quickly you don’t care because you’re not sitting there evaluating every shot in this series, you’re just enjoying it.”
Shifting focus to the MCU as a whole, Corridor Crew shared their belief that fans are quick to overjudge Marvel Studios’ CGI due to high expectations of the VFX department:
“I think it’s the expectation that Marvel is at the forefront and anything that isn’t perfect is unacceptable. You’ve always outdone yourself, the bar is so high. They have to hit that almost unattainable bar, and yet they hit it every time, even if it’s just two percent below the bar [fans go crazy].”
Corridor Crews full analysis of the She-Hulk: Lawyer Trailer can be viewed below:
Is She-Hulk’s VFX bad after all?
She Hulk may have shown some imperfections in the first look it delivered in mid-May, but the final product, due out on Disney+ in August, will no doubt be more polished. Comparing the trailer’s YouTube and Disney+ uploads, the compression clearly had a major impact on the quality and visible detail of the CGI, which won’t be an issue in the series itself.
Although the MCU has featured fully CGI characters in the past, She Hulk will be the first time a fully digital creation has led its own project, let alone a nine-episode series. It’s important not to underestimate the difficult task Marvel Studios set itself to realistically design and animate a character, and the result is undeniably impressive.
Every Hollywood studio has had its fair share of good and bad CGI, and things have only been more difficult lately with the VFX houses currently experiencing a work backlog. Maybe that can mean good She Hulk is currently less complete than planned, but Disney would not have set the August release date had it not been certain that the series would be completed on time to a high standard.
Fans still have to be patient She-Hulk: Lawyer Premieres on Disney+ on August 17 to find out how the CGI turns out.