WARNING: This post contains SPOILERS for Avengers: Infinity War.
Here's why one character's death was drawn out at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, according to the VFX supervisor at Weta. Weta worked with Marvel on the visual effects for some of the film's key scenes, and they were responsible for the shocking moment when countless heroes turned to dust.
One character's death had far more emotional impact than all the others. Tom Holland's Spider-Man took longer to dissolve, desperately telling Tony Stark that he didn't want to go. It was a stunning scene, leaving audiences in tears, all the more impressive because Holland improvised the dialogue.
But why did Peter Parker endure longer than the others? Why did the likes of Black Panther and Falcon just crumble to dust, barely aware of what was happening, while Spider-Man had time to voice his horror? It turns out there was a reason - and it makes the scene even more powerful. Speaking exclusively to Screen Rant, Matt Aiken, lead VFX supervisor for Weta, explained:
"Spidey's really fighting it. He definitely doesn't want to go and he's fighting... he's incredibly powerful, so he's able to withhold it for a lot longer than some of the others, but in the end he can't withstand it."
Aiken seems to envision this scene as a battle of wills, with Peter fighting to stay alive. He's strong - stronger than all the others, and as a result holds on longer than anyone else. But, in the end, even Peter Parker's desire for life is overwhelmed by the sheer might of the Infinity Gauntlet. It is worth noting that these comments are from the VFX team, not the story side, but Aiken seems very specific and very confident indeed in his interpretation. It definitely seems likely this take comes from the studio itself.
According to Aiken, working on this scene was an incredibly emotional experience in its own right.
"Nobody at Weta could watch that. The first few times we watched that we all choked up, it's an incredibly powerful performance and key moment in the film I think. There was less room to kind of smoke and mirrors it, if you like. We had to make sure that it worked really, really well, because it was so drawn out, and so it had to withhold very high levels of scrutiny becuase we were holding right on Spidey's face over Tony's shoulder, through that.
It was just making sure that it worked completely consistently, seamless through that trauma process."
As Aiken notes, this scene was different from all the other character deaths at the cliffhanger ending of Avengers: Infinity War. The others were viewed from a distance, with their bodies dissolving. In the case of Spider-Man, the camera angles were tight and focused, attempting to capture the intense emotion of the scene. The VFX here had to be absolutely seamless, with Spider-Man crumbling to dust while held in Tony Stark's arms. Weta certainly pulled it off, though, as the combination of Holland's performance and the stunning effects make this one of the most effective death scenes in Infinity War.
Aiken's revelations only add to the emotional depth of this death scene. At the same time, though, they suggest that - should the Avengers succeed in reversing the effect of Thanos's finger-snap - Spider-Man really could be the greatest of them all.
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