The Marvel Cinematic Universe made a name for itself with the big event-style film of 2012, The Avengers. The team-up of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) - who each starred in their own standalone films prior to The Avengers - kicked Marvel Studios’ shared universe into overdrive; it was a huge financial success and remains Marvel’s biggest earner at the box office yet.
The movie’s followup, next summer’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron, promises to be a greater spectacle with more heroes, more villains, and a bigger fight for the world’s safety. Additionally, in terms of visual effects, Age of Ultron will be the biggest Marvel movie to date.
THR is reporting that Victoria Alonso, Marvel Studios’ executive VP of visual effects and postproduction as well as an executive producer on Age of Ultron, said the sequel will set a new VFX shot count record in a Marvel film. At the Visual Effects Society Production Summit, Alonso revealed Age of Ultron is expected to top 3,000 VFX shots.
In comparison, Captain America: The Winter Soldier reached 2,500 shots and Guardians of the Galaxy hit 2,750 VFX shots. To create all the visual effects, Alonso said Marvel would be working with seven to 12 VFX vendors in five to seven countries - one of which, presumably, is Industrial Light & Magic.
The amount of special effects expected to appear in Age of Ultron shouldn’t surprise anyone who has been following Marvel Studios films. With the return of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) as well as the additions of Vision (Paul Bettany), Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and Ultron (James Spader), Age of Ultron has more characters in need of VFX to demonstrate their powers. Additionally, the nature of movie franchises - in that the spectacle gets bigger and bigger which each installment - lends itself to needing more visual effects.
However, whether or not the increased number of VFX shots makes Age of Ultron a better movie remains to be seen. Though it will certainly help to bring the world of The Avengers to life (particularly The Hulk and Ultron), visual effects can, at times, take viewers out of a movie if it becomes too obvious - even in a film about superpowered heroes.
Though Marvel may be guilty of overt and/or flat VFX in the past, few fans would say it detracts from the overall experience of their films. Marvel Studios consistently creates compelling stories about superheroes that require visual effects to be done properly.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron will premiere in theaters May 1st, 2015.