Like many of us, we are sure that you often find yourself in awe at the spectacle you witness on screen when watching a superhero movie. Truth be told, not all special effects are great, but when they are, it makes for an incredible experience that can only take place in a theater, with its sharp picture on a massive screen and high quality, booming audio specifically designed for the immersive experience of the movie. And even when the effects aren’t particularly great, you still have a huge team of special effects people that work on the project in order to make it as realistic as possible. On top of that, acting in front of a green screen can’t be a particularly easy feat to achieve.
Rather than facing an actual explosion, or vicious dragon, you’re faced with a green screen or a guy dressed up in a green suit who looks completely ridiculous. How can you possibly stay in character given such a strange situation? That proves just how talented actors are. Despite the fact that they have no props or understanding of what the final product will look like, they still manage to give great performances. Here are the 15 most unbelievable BTS green screen shots of superhero movies.
15. WONDER WOMAN V DOOMSDAY
Although we can all agree that Doomsday wasn’t the best designed villain in comic book movie history, it was still pretty cool seeing the DC Trinity join forces to take down Lex Luthor’s abomination in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Although everyone knows that Doomsday was entirely CGI, it is still interesting to look at behind the scenes images such as this one which shows Wonder Woman battling the beast.
It must take a lot of dedication to stay in character when you’re fighting a goofy guy in gray tights instead of a huge, terrifying creature. What we find particularly interesting is they didn’t even put the motion capture actor on stilts since Doomsday is huge in the movie. That makes for more movie magic we will never understand.
14. JOR-EL AND THE DESTRUCTION OF KRYPTON
In Man of Steel, the film depicts the origin of Superman and gives audiences an idea of what life on Krypton was like before its destruction. Although it already made an appearance in Richard Donner’s Superman film, the advancements in CGI technology meant that Zach Snyder could take the look of Krypton a lot further.
During the destruction of the planet, Jor-El, played by Russell Crowe can be seen riding a winged creature in an attempt to evade General Zod’s forces and save his son. We are obviously not surprised that it was all the work of a special effects team, it is just funny seeing Russell Crowe sitting on a green mechanical saddle, looking very serious. It is incredible to think that such action packed scenes came out of this.
Although Deapool often makes jokes at Ryan Reynolds’ expense (one of them being the fact that his Green Lantern suit was entirely CGI), the film still had quite a bit of CGI in it. No one is surprised to see that the shot in which Deadpool clings onto a sheet of metal during the climactic explosion at the end of the film contains a CGI explosion done via a green screen, it is still interesting to see behind the scenes footage of them preparing the shot.
The only prop that wasn’t CGI apart from Deadpool himself is the chunk of metal that protects him from the explosion and propels him into the sky. The rest of the shot came out of the imagination of the special effects crew.
12. ROCKET RACCOON
Most people know that Sean Gunn, brother of director James Gunn, played Kraglin Obfonteri, a member of Yondu’s Ravagers crew. What people don’t know is that Sean Gunn actually played another character in the film: Rocket Raccoon, but you would never know it if you hadn’t seen any behind the scenes images.
Although Bradley Cooper provided the voice work for the CGI character, Gunn was his on set stand in, so when Drax is petting his furry little friend, he’s actually petting Gunn who is wearing green tights. Gunn was then replaced in post production with Rocket. Most people worry when it is announced that a character will be entirely CGI, but luckily in this case, Rocket looked very realistic and we have the special effects team to thank for that.
11. THE DARK KNIGHT
Christopher Nolan is known for his penchant for picking film over digital to shoot his movies. He also relies very little on CGI. He prefers practical stunts because they look more realistic than anything created on a computer. As much as this is true, sometimes you don’t have the budget or knowhow to do a stunt in the real world. Furthermore, some stunts would put a lot of people at risk, including your actors.
So for the final scene that we see the Joker in The Dark Knight, captured by Batman and hanging upside down outside of a skyscraper, waiting for the police to cart him off to Arkham, Nolan decided to have a green screen background. We don’t blame him for that call, because safety remains the most important factor.
10. MAN OF STEEL OIL RIG
Obviously, it would have been quite a dangerous experience to have an actors, extras and crew around an oil rig that is on fire, so it makes perfect sense that they would choose to make the scene on a sound stage using a green screen. Many fans might be very impressed (and secretly jealous) that Henry Cavill did not get any CGI help to enhance his incredible physique. Leave the CGI for the rig, the fire and the explosions.
This guy is entirely real, no matter how unbelievable it may be. Given the amount of CGI present in new movies, we’re surprised that helicopter is real. In any case, it is clear that nothing else was real on that set, and it was left up to the special effects team to fill in the rest.
9. QUICKSILVER SCENE
Although X-Men: Apocalypse isn’t regarded particularly highly by the fans, one thing that most people can agree on is that Quicksilver stole the show once again with an amazing slow motion sequence. But how did they manage to shoot that spectacular scene? It turns out they used a Phantom high speed camera that can shoot 3,000 frames per second (as opposed to a regular camera that shoots at about 30 frames per second).
That means that every subtle movement and skin ripple from the high speed fans is caught in extremely slow motion. And on top of that, they obviously needed a green screen. Although the scene is only 3 minutes long, it took a month and a half to shoot. Director Bryan Singer said of the scene, “Evan worked more days on this movie than any other actor because of this one sequence.”
8. AIRPORT SCENE
The biggest highlight and spectacle found in Captain America: Civil War was the airport battle that pitted all of our favorite superheroes against each other. What you probably didn’t even realize was that some of the airport and some of the characters were entirely CGI. ILM visual effects supervisor Russell Earl spoke to The Verge and explained, “The airport is a hundred percent digital. Spider-Man, Giant-Man, and Black Panther are always one-hundred percent CG. Iron Man, War Machine, and then we’ve got Vision.”
That’s right, some characters were entirely CG the entire time and the airport was all done on a green screen, which is a huge surprise for a lot of fans because the special effects work is so seamless that you would have never guessed Cap’s team was battling CG characters in front of a green screen.
7. X-MEN: APOCALYPSE
Given the fact that the climactic battle between Apocalypse and the X-Men at the end of the film involves extreme destruction thanks to Magneto’s enhanced magnetic power, it is no wonder that everything was done in front of a green screen. No one would ever expect such destruction to be done practically anymore, since the amount of time and energy to set up hundreds of rigs and explosives can be dangerous and go horribly wrong.
Instead, CGI provides a much safer alternative. We must admit that we were surprised that the debris and destroyed cars on the ground were actually real props since everything else in the scene was CGI. Also, as much as we prefer practical makeup to CGI, we feel bad for Nicholas Hoult who must have spent hours in the makeup chair.
6. SUPERMAN RETURNS
Even though fans weren’t particularly impressed with Superman Returns, you have to admit you always get a rush when you see Superman flying through the air. As iconic as it is to see Superman flying in the air in his trademark costume, it certainly takes away from the magic to see him attached to a bunch of ropes in front of a green screen with crew members shooting gusts of wind at him from multiple different angles.
But there’s one thing in this shot that doesn’t make much sense to us. If you look behind Brandon Routh, you will notice two crew members in green tights. We’re not exactly sure what their role is in this scene but it doesn’t seem like they’re doing much.
5. THE AVENGERS ASSEMBLE
The Avengers was all about bringing the Avengers together. Audiences had already seen multiple films featuring the different characters, and this would be the first time we would get to see them interact together. Of course, the diverging ideologies caused quite a bit of conflict, but they ultimately came together for the greater good in order to defeat an alien invasion that threatened Earth.
We’re not exactly sure what director Joss Whedon is doing here posing with the rest of the team, but he certainly looks goofy doing it (this was long before Guardians of the Galaxy came out but he looks like he’s channeling Rocket). Most wouldn’t be surprised that the epic battle at the end of the film that brought the Avengers together involved a lot of CGI and green screen work.
4. DR. MANHATTAN
Arguably the most powerful superhero ever created, Dr. Manhattan has the power of a god — he can alter matter at his will and by the end of the Watchmen miniseries, he decided that he would try his hand at making life of his own. When he first comes into being, he appears in the lunchroom at the Gila Flats nuclear research base where he worked, and audiences were presented with this iconic scene where he materialized for the first time radiating a blue glow.
Many fans wondered how they managed to create that CGI character and blue glow, and it appears we now have the answer: they strapped actor Billy Crudup with a ton of blue lights and CGIed his body in post production.
3. NOT MUCH OF AN EMPIRE
Although Xerxes is supposed to be a god to the Persons in 300 and 300: Rise of an Empire, he doesn’t seem all that imposing when he doesn’t have his army with him. As intimidating as he is in the films, it appears that he doesn’t have an army at all as they are entirely CGI.
In this shot from 300: Rise of an Empire, Rodrigo Santoro, the actor who played Xerxes, was standing in front of a green screen rather than the thousands of troops he was supposed to be rallying together. The 300 film series is extremely stylized, much like the graphic novel by Frank Miller it is based on and relied heavily on CGI and green screens. There are certainly a lot of breathtaking set pieces in the films, but they are all CG.
2. SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR
It must be pretty bizarre as an actor to be filming a scene in a car that doesn’t even exist in real life. Josh Brolin, who played Dwight McCarthy in Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller. For this scene, Brolin is only holding a steering wheel. The rest of the car was a computer generated image. Rodriguez is known for his heavy use of green screens for his films.
In fact, a lot of the actors in his ensemble films don’t even meet during the shooting even when their characters have scenes together, because he digitally adds them into scenes using the green screen. Why they chose to make the car CGI as well is beyond our comprehension.
1. HULK SMASH
Mark Ruffalo surprised everyone in The Avengers and created a character that embodied the cautious and pessimistic Bruce Banner as well as the rage of the Hulk. People instantly fell in love with the character, and he was a standout in the film. Since then he has made an appearance in 2 other MCU movies including this year’s space buddy-movie Thor: Ragnarok.
We are all well aware that the Hulk was created through motion capture in order to get Ruffalo’s facial expressions, but it is interesting to see him on set amid the destruction at the end of The Avengers film during the alien invasion. A lot of credit has to go to the special effects team for creating such a believable green monster who could have easily come off as silly.
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