A blur, a tremor, a whoosh of air… The question of how to physically represent superpowers – some moving faster than the eye can see – is one that numerous comic book adaptations have to answer. The Flash has a long streak of color following in the trail of the speedster, which varies depending on who is running. Clark Kent rushing off to transform into Superman or take flight was often shown in various iterations by bystanders’ windblown hair. When dealing with supernatural abilities, there often needs to be a physical representation that tells the audience that something very cool is happening now.
This was something that required a lot of consideration when making Avengers: Age of Ultron, especially as it added in two new characters with magical abilities far different than the rest of the team. We can now see that determining what their powers would look like was anything but simple.
To tease the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron on DVD and Blu-ray, Marvel has released a behind the scenes featurette with the movie’s cast and crew. This clip breaks down the process of translating the abilities and mannerisms of Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) from the comic book to the big screen.
Quicksilver’s movements evolved into more of a “lightening bolt strike” that changes depending on how the light hits it. Scarlet Witch ended up with red balls of fire energy, while still incorporating some of the physical stances and poses from the comics. Cast and crew discuss the importance of taking the characters powers and creating a visual that felt organic and natural to the characters.
While all of the Avengers have unique abilities, most of them are already very physical. It’s clear what happens when Bruce Banner becomes the Hulk, but it’s less obvious how to show someone entering into another person’s memories. As the MCU continues to expand to incorporate more magical characters, it’s important to have emphasis placed on how the magic is rendered, lest they veer into cartoonish territory.
Though Marvel’s visual effects have long impressed audiences, the studio still has considerable challenges in the many movies ahead. Creating visuals for the crucial aspects of Doctor Strange‘s vast powers including energy and astral projection will be no small task, and there will be no shortage of magic in the upcoming sequel Avengers: Infinity War Part 1. Still, I’m excited to see if Marvel can continue to capture the essence of the comics on the big screen, and optimistic that the studio will succeed if it continues to pay attention to the small details that make each character so unique.
Captain America: Civil War opens in theaters May 6, 2016; Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man – July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Black Panther – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – November 2, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019.