When you think about massive, visual effects-driven blockbusters released in 2018, one of the first films that undoubtedly comes to mind is Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel Studios' epic culmination of a decade of shared-universe storytelling. Infinity War has dominated much of the moviegoing public's imagination this year, and with good reason, but as massive as it is, its smaller-scale (pun intended) follow-up was in some ways just as ambitious.
Ant-Man and the Wasp had a lot of jokes aimed at it over the summer for being the film that somehow had to follow the epic that is Infinity War with a superhero buddy action comedy set in one city and starring significantly fewer major characters. One of the most impressive things about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though, is the commitment the studio pours into each individual feature no matter the tone or the scope, and in a new featurette we get to see firsthand just how much attention to detail went into making the Ant-Man sequel look as cool as possible.
In a new interview with Wired complete with numerous visual aids, Marvel's vice president of visual effects, Danielle Costa, breaks down virtually every major VFX element in Ant-Man and the Wasp, from the CGI ants to the de-aging technology used to take its stars into flashbacks. Costa's been around the MCU since the first Thor film in 2009, so she knows her stuff, and this 10-minute tour through Ant-Man and the Wasp's various visual challenges proves just how much time she and her team put into this film even after the huge effort of Infinity War.
"The visual effects team always wants to be sort of the illusion that you don't know, or kind of like a magician, how you don't want it to be an obvious trick," Costa said. "You want people to be just swept away from the story, and everything that they're seeing is completely believable. In a movie like this, where you're going small, where you're going large, where you're integrating crazy live-action photography with crazy CG, it has to all feel like it's working all in the same universe."
With that in mind, Costa walks through every element of those illusions, from integrating CGI into live-action plate photography, to using Frazier lenses to create an "infinite depth of field" for the shrinking scenes, to re-sculpting the faces of Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer so they could appear 30 years younger, to building the Quantum Realm from the ground up. It's all a very good reminder that Marvel films doesn't have to have a cast of dozens of megastars to be massive behind-the-scenes efforts packed with creative people, all working to make everything feel like an actual superhero universe is unfolding before our eyes.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is available now on digital and Blu-ray.