It was the shot that made the price of admission for The Avengers more than worth it, and likely filled every movie theater with squeals of delight from comic book fans. Not to mention provided a visual sequence that few had ever seen prior to Marvel's team-up.
Apparently stitching Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hulk and Hawkeye's individual fights into a single shot posed a bit of a challenge to the special effects team at Industrial Light & Magic. The latest behind-the-scenes look gives an idea of how much work went into bringing the film's most memorable shot to life.
We continue to be baffled by the ease with which ILM makes the impossible seem downright plausible, and the flowing shot during the battle between the Avengers and the invading Chitauri didn't just elicit 'oohs' and 'ahhs' from audiences, but proved what scale of action was possible with more than one star in your superhero movie. It also proved what kind of action Joss Whedon could deliver.
The budget or special effects in store for Marvel's 'Phase One' conclusion were never in question, but the same can't be said for Whedon's appointment as both writer and director. When the Buffy, Firefly and Dollhouse creator was first signed, his relative inexperience with films of this size (and in general) raised some doubts. Not the least of which was his competency with action and massive set piece fight choreography.
If that were the case, it stood to reason that Marvel (like many other studios hiring story-focused directors) would bring in some help to piece together the larger, bolder, more CGI-heavy sequences. Perhaps Whedon deserves even more vindication than he's currently enjoying, since the team at ILM make it clear that the iconic shot was formed by the director himself, and not by committee.
Obviously there's plenty of people that help make a sequence like this one a reality. But if budget and time are the things that have kept 'proven large-scale action' off of Whedon's resume, and not his imagination, it means good things for the sequel. The cagey godfather of Marvel's cinematic universe hasn't gone into details on what story he came up with that convinced him to make The Avengers 2, but hopefully he's already dreaming up even bigger and better ways of having the heroes use their powers in tandem (if Iron Man's beam-into-Cap's-shield is just the start...).
This will be little comfort to fans till pining over the second villain that never made it into the movie, but there's still room to expand things for the sequel. It's fair to say that ILM and Whedon helped sell the super-team action of The Avengers 2 in this shot alone, so if the momentum continues, fans have even more to look forward to.
Iron Man 3 releases May 3, 2013, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015 and Ant-Man on November 6, 2015.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
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