Superhero movies and TV shows aren't all flashy costumes and shiny special effects. Their creators have to go through a lot to get them there, and the process isn't always pretty.
Just like sausage, the creation of any project involves a bunch of processes that you either don't care about or shouldn't see. The reasons are several.
Usually it's because it would be super boring to see something like the assistants who had to spend countless hours hand-linking the chainmail for the Lord of the Rings movies. That's actually probably interesting to the right audience, now that we think about it.
Another risk of looking at the stuff that goes into making superhero movies happen is that you just can't look at the final project the same way again. Your investigation could spoil some movie magic, make you question your fanhood, or just terrify you. So that's your warning.
These are the photos that, for these reasons and others, we just can't unsee. People say that you shouldn't look into the kitchen at your favorite restaurant, and this is kind of the entertainment equivalent of that. However, hopefully none of these make you throw up.
With that said, here are the 15 Behind The Scenes Superhero Photos We Can't Unsee.
15 The twins have had enough of Ultron
We’ve made a lot of jabs at motion-capture suits, but superhero movies are full of them, and this shot from the set of Avengers: Age of Ultron adds another humor source.
Evil android Ultron is way taller than actor James Spader, who plays him, so his costars have to look up at whatever marker the filmmakers use to denote where his head is. Is it a ball on a stick? We’re not sure because it’s out of frame. However, that’s not even the best part of this photo.
Our highlight is definitely the part where having to look up at Ultron’s invisible head makes it look like Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are rolling their eyes. They’re listening to him talking about taking over the world, and it looks like they just couldn’t care less.
14 The true face of Rocket Raccoon
Once you know that Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn provides the motion capture for any time Baby Groot dances, it just makes those scenes even more delightful. We wish we could say the same for Rocket Raccoon.
Sean Gunn, James’ brother, appears in person as Kraglin. However, he also did the motion capture and was the on-set stand-in for Rocket. The enhanced raccoon looks pretty great in the final movies. However, after seeing this photo, all we’ll think about is this poor guy kneeling in a weird green suit to help everyone else look in the right place.
We’re glad he was there, though, because actors typically work better if they have something other than a tennis ball on a stick to play against.
13 A tennis ball on a stick
Mark Ruffalo, who plays Hulk in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, does his own motion capture and standing-in on set. That means that he has to wear the above getup for hours a day when he’s not playing Bruce Banner.
This shot from Thor: Ragnarok shows Ruffalo either deep in character or trying not to think about how ridiculous superhero movies can be sometimes.
The special effects department logically used the actor’s performance against his costars to render Hulk later. That’s smart because, again, real interactions are better than nothing.
However, in the name of suffering for his art, Ruffalo had to act in the weird motion suit, along with a face full of capture dots. He also wore the actual tennis ball on a stick that showed the other performers where to look and the effects people where Hulk’s head should go.
12 Nothing is real
Movies like the 300 films take place almost (if not entirely) in front of green screens with the effects team adding the details later.
This shot, from sequel 300: Rise of an Empire, provides a stark demonstration of how little of that movie was “real.” In this case, the only actual, physical element of the shot they’re grabbing is of the actor playing Themistocles.
The background, foreground, and even the horse he’s riding are movie magic. Granted, that's because most horses won't willingly run through fire or underwater, so we understand.
That’s not to say that this is an inherently bad way to tell a story, although it certainly didn’t do the Star Wars prequels any favors. However, once we see pictures like this, we just don’t know what’s real anymore.
11 Even the real stuff is fake
This photo from one of the original Superman movies showcases some of special effects master Derek Meddings’ impressive miniature work. This was before filmmakers could make elaborate, computer-generated versions of Smallville and Metropolis to reduce to rubble, so they had to do it all by hand.
Without Meddings and the photographer standing there, we’d think it was just a regular location. However, now we can’t watch the movie the same way because . Also, if you read up on the miniature maker’s work, you’ll feel the same way about a quarter of the James Bond series, and Tim Burton’s first Batman movie.
This is almost worse than that picture from the 300 sequel because it has us constantly wondering if we’re looking at real locations or not. It’s like a small existential crisis.
10 The Wha-verine
This time, the green screen is the least of our worries because we didn’t honestly expect Hugh Jackman to fight a bunch of dudes on top of a moving train for real in The Wolverine. However, the rest… just look at it. It’s glorious.
We’d love to say what our favorite part of this picture is, but the truth is that we love all of it. We like the little claw nubs waiting for the rest of the blades to show up in post production.
We enjoy the clapper operator having to stoop down to get into the shot. Also, we absolutely love the face Jackman has on. It looks like he just realized that he locked his keys in his car with the engine running and a huge block of cheese is in the back seat.
In fact, it’s all we’ll think of next time we watch the movie.
9 That is the sound of your childhood crying
We already knew that the main characters’ heads in the early Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies were animatronic wonders from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. We can live with that because those costumes were delightful and made us believe in giant, speaking turtles who knew martial arts.
However, this picture, which shows the All Effects Company’s similar noggins from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, is the sort of thing that might give us nightmares. It’s one thing to see a robot head acting on a human body. However, it’s something else entirely to see them sitting on a table all separate from their bodies but still capable of movement.
It takes us right back to Mombi’s gallery of living human heads in Return to Oz, which is not a place we wanted to visit again.
8 The exact opposite of their roles
We don’t expect actors playing onscreen enemies to actually hate each other any more than we believe onscreen couples are actually in love. However, pictures like this one are still jarring.
It’s from the set of director Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, and it shows costars Tom Hardy and Christian Bale palling around between takes.
Given the daylight, the snow, and the extras in the background, this camaraderie is even more jarring because their jobs once the cameras started rolling were to fight and spew tough-guy banter at each other.
This is still a pretty cute picture, however. Nobody’s claiming it isn’t. It’s just that from now on, every time we see Batman and Bane’s climactic battle, we’re just going to remember this and think that they can't be all that mad.
7 The truth behind the sorcery
We use the term “magic” to describe special effects because they make the unbelievable seem possible, and that’s especially important in superhero movies. However, like stage magic, movie magic has an unfortunate side effect: ince you see how it works, it often just seems painfully stupid.
Take this pre-effects shot from Doctor Strange, from a scene in which the eponymous master of the mystic arts and Christine Palmer communicate via a portal.
It looks completely awesome in the movie. However, that’s because a bunch of artists went in and replaced the green screen with Strange’s location and the huge, glowing hula hoop with a sparking hole in space.
We give them all the credit with turning this silly-looking setup into something cool, but now that we know the hoop is in there, it’s hard to come back.
6 Latex Luthor
When the time came to shoot their series finale, the creators of Smallville weren’t sure whether Michael Rosenbaum would be available to come back to reprise his role as the best on-screen Lex Luthor ever.
The good news was that he made it work around his schedule. However, the bad news was that, like Henry Cavill, he had some contractually protected hair for the production to work around.
He was appearing on the Fox comedy Breaking In at the time, and one of his character’s salient qualities was that he was decidedly un-bald. Since Smallville surely didn’t have the budget to CGI his hair out of every shot, and also because that would have been an idiotic idea, they went with a bald cap instead.
It was apparently a good one because we didn’t realize it until we saw this makeup test shot... and now it’s haunting us.
5 The Wonder Women
This amazing picture from the Wonder Woman TV series of Lynda Carter and her stunt double, Jeannie Epper, is one of the best things you’ll see this week. We’re confident saying that because we’ve looked at it a few dozen times since we found it, and it still draws a smile.
It’s so wonderful that we forget that it undercuts Carter’s onscreen presence by showing that someone exists who can just, like, lift her with no problems. However, neither we nor Carter particularly care.
Epper herself is a prolific stunt performer with over 150 credits. These include Kill Bill, Robocop, and The Book of Eli, where she doubled for that old cannibal woman, and Robocop, in which he stood in for Nancy Allen. However, we’ll always think of her as the even more awesome TV Wonder Woman.
4 And then she woke up and chased her
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. actress Ming Na-Wen’s work as Melinda May has almost made us forget that she played Disney Princess Mulan, even though that character also ended the lives of a lot of people. May’s deal is that she’s stoic, unflappable, and superviolent.
So we can’t help feeling a silly twinge of nerves when we see candid shots like this one. Sure, Chloe Bennet’s smiling and tossing up the “Get a load of this sleepyhead” thumb. However, what if it’s a trap? Maybe Ming's just pretending to sleep to lure in the first fool who gets too close?
We know that Ming Na-Wen and Melinda May are different people. However, every time we see Ming Na-Wen is on that show, and she’s often kicking, punching, or shooting someone. So we hope you’ll forgive us for being jumpy.
3 A colossal difference
Obviously, we will never get used to seeing on-set shots before anyone adds CGI, but this one’s especially fun. it’s from Deadpool and shows Andre Tricoteux, one of two actors who did motion capture for Colossus, all suited up.
We’ve gotten used to how weird motion-capture suits look. However, the bonus content here is those huge platform shoes that help Tricoteux reach the mutant’s impressive stature.
The performer himself is almost seven feet tall even without the shoes, but considering Colossus’ canonical height in his metal form is 7’5”, even an already giant human needs a boost to match him.
It’s a good thing the shoes were a viable solution, though. If we had to pick between looking like Frankenstein’s creature and wearing a ball-stick on our heads, we know which one we’d go with.
2 Did Disney cut the budget?
Here’s a shot from the set of the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, and we have no idea what’s happening here. It’s kind of the total package of spawning a lot of questions.
Were they filming when the photographer took this? Is this in the movie? Probably not, considering the crew members milling around. Things get even more confusing when you start looking at that Iron Man.
At first, it looks like a kid hanging out in a partial suit with his hands in his pockets like it’s no big deal. However, it’s actually a third crew member carrying the upper part of the costume on a stand.
Even now that we know what it really is, we can’t unsee the Iron Man kid. It’s burned in our minds like a brand-- and it is a way funnier image.
1 Superman's secret 'stache
If you don’t know the story, Warner Bros. brought in Avengers director Joss Whedon for extensive reshoots on Justice League after a family crisis called Zack Snyder away.
Paramount wouldn’t let Henry Cavill shave the mustache he grew for their movie, Mission Impossible: Fallout. So Warner had to spend $25 million to remove it digitally.
To be clear, this is an altered still from Batman v Superman and not an actual on-set photo of Henry Cavill sporting his expensive soup strainer. However, of all the hundreds of fakes that arose with Superman pulling off a variety of looks, this is the most convincing.
It’s so good, in fact, that it’s even more distracting than the actual, weird-looking final product. It convinces us that Warner should have just left it in. In the comics, Superman came back with a full-on mullet, so we’d have bought it.
What are the most disappointing things you've learned from in-depth looks at superhero movies and shows? Be sure to let us know in the comments!
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