Why The Eternals VFX Team Had To “Throw Away” Everything They Learned About Previous Marvel Movies

Chloe Zhao has developed a distinctive cinematic style that is prevalent in all the films she directs, including the Best Picture 2020 winner. nomadland. When she was brought in to lead Marvel’s Eternals (which shared a particularly strong similarity with nomadland), she didn’t compromise her vision, which meant using beautiful wide-angle landscape shots and natural lighting. This was new territory for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so even though the visual effects team had spent over a decade mastering new techniques for the superhero franchise, they basically had to throw everything she had learned through the window.

CinemaBlend recently spoke with the Eternals VFX team, and Matt Aiken, the film’s VFX supervisor for WETA Digital, had the following to say about scrapping what he learned and starting afresh:

It was a new approach to filmmaking from my experience with a number of MCU films I’ve made, which are location-based and use natural light, filming at the end of the day with wide-angle lenses, long holds, peculiar platforms. So all of us, you know, the tools and the tricks that we’ve gathered over the years to do our job, to make our work somehow fit together, we had to throw it all away and just come up with a whole new visual language to match what Chloe was bringing.

Matt Aiken having to develop an “all new visual language” says a lot, because the seasoned expert has also worked on Marvel movies like Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. The visual reach of these team-based films was huge, with a ton of complex environments for the VFX team to build. The fact that working with Chloe Zhao was still a whole new challenge for him is quite amazing.

Say what you want about Eternals, but one thing everyone can seem to agree on is that the movie is gorgeous. It certainly fared better among fans than critics, but the reactions were mixed. Our own Eric Eisenberg even gave it 3 out of 5 stars in his review, though he clarified that it was “visually stunning” and “unlike anything we’ve seen before in the Marvel Cinematic Universe”. The Marvel movie also did pretty good at the box office and made great strides in representation. If you are curious about the post-production process that took place on Eternals, you can check out a short demo courtesy of the effects team below.

Outstanding visuals weren’t the only thing that Eternals had to offer, as it also took bold steps to set the stage for the future of the MCU. This includes, but is not limited to, the introduction of Harry Styles as Eros in one of the end credits scenes. Luckily for us geeks, there are plenty more Marvel movies to come. We at CinemaBlend will definitely keep you posted!

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