Disney+'s recently concluded The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series was all about how Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson went from the aerial Avenger to the new Captain America. Now Marvel Studios has gone a step further in revealing the process of creating his origin story with a new video breaking down the series' visual effects, and how they made Sam look like a worthy successor to the shield.
In the video below, VFX supervisor Eric Leven says it was important to make Sam's flight feel distinctly different compared to fellow flyers like Iron Man and Thor.
Check out Sam in action:
In breaking down the debut episode's action scene, wherein Sam goes up against Batroc the Leaper and his wingsuit-wearing crew, Leven shows how much of that combat was real versus CG. Blending digital backgrounds with real actors wasn't terribly hard, and any time they had a chance to do something for real, like having Mackie fly behind a plane and land on it, it was done for real. (The plane was on solid ground, of course. Mackie's no Tom Cruise.) And during close ups of Sam's face, to simulate the feeling of flight, Mackie had an action cam put in front of his face while the rest of the world moved around him.
Delving further into the series, Leven talks about how the VFX crew worked to make Sam's official debut as Captain America feel heroic in the series finale, something specifically desired by series creator Malcolm Spellman. Though the scene where Wyatt Russell's John Walker tries to stop a convoy of government officials from plummeting to their death was done via blue screen staging, Sam's subsequent rescue was done mostly practically. VFX rigged up the convoy in a way for Mackie to "push" the convoy, while the pit was shot at a realistic parking garage before being touched up on a computer to make the fall look more dangerous than it actually was.
The big action scenes were some of Leven's favorite on the show, having worked on them for over a year, but the VFX doesn't just stop there. Smaller details require visual work as well, such as eliminating zippers and seams, which Leven jokes don't exist for superhero costumes. For Sam's Captain America suit, Leven and his team had to step in, since the fabrics to make his cowl are "really, really hard to get in real life," in his words. To compensate for this, the costuming department built the costume as close as they could, and the effects team stepped in when needed. Wrinkles in the cowl or separation from his face? The team had to touch those up so the cowl would look snug on Mackie's face. It was a lot of work, but in his eyes, it all paid off.
The Falcon Captain America & the Winter Soldier's entire first season is available now on Disney+.