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Spider-Man: No Way Home's VFX Team on Recreating Its Vintage Villains

Bringing all these old foes together again was quite an undertaking.

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Willem Dafoe as Green Goblin on his glider in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Image: Marvel Studios

Visual effects make up a lot of the MCU movies, but Spider-Man: No Way Home had its work cut out for it. Bringing back five villains from previous movies, plus two of the former Spider-Men was quite an undertaking, and VFX supervisor Kelly Port recently spoke about the process of bringing these characters back for the MCU.

Port previously worked on Avengers: Infinity War, Endgame, and the original Thor, and his team knew they had to do all of these villains justice. Creation wise, it was important to “be true to the nuances of each character,” and the previous films were looked at for reference. Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus from Spider-Man 2, for example, had plenty of reference photos for the team to pull from. Looking at the puppeteer photos, Port’s team was able to make the tentacles fully CG, and believes they’re “pretty consistent” with the archive photos. Proud as he is, he also admits that it couldn’t be like that for every character, since a lot of the reference material just didn’t exist anymore.

Villain wise, the biggest hurdle appeared to be Spider-Man 3 baddie Sandman, played again by Thomas Haden Church. For No Way Home, the villain is in his sand form for most of the movie, and Port admits that interviewing companies (several of whom previously worked on Spider-Man movies) to work on the film was an ordeal. Creating the character was difficult back in 2007 because the technologies to make him didn’t exist yet. Even with technology’s advancements, Port admitted that there was “a collective post-traumatic stress disorder” for Flint Marko’s second outing. Church did some performance capture, with a simulation taking over for the millions of grains of sand. In the scenes where you see Church, the team used alternate takes from Spider-Man 3 and re-projected them onto their fully CG version.

No Way Home’s narrative conceit that the villains are pulled from their climactic battles with their respective Spider-Men, means that they had to be de-aged. (Unless it was during some action sequences, where fully CG doubles of the villains were made.) Molina required a facial tracking system to remove wrinkles and tighten up skin, which was “time consuming,” but that appeared to be the most touching up. Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin was also de-aged, but apparently “very minimal,” as the team didn’t want to use any facial detail. “We kept all the detail that was in the original photography,” Port notes.


In total, No Way Home has 2,500 VFX shots, and a lot of it obviously comes from the action sequences. Putting the three Spider-Men against the ferocious five villains on Liberty Island was “all digital,” even down to Tom Holland’s costume. Because of the time it took to replace Spider-Man’s costume with his digital Iron Spider suit in those sequences, Port recounts it as being “a bit of a nail-biter.” Good thing, then, that it appears the Iron Spider suit has been apparently done with by the film’s end.

[via The Hollywood Reporter]

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