- Superhero suits in MCU and DCU films are often CGI-altered, even in non-combat scenes, to provide a more seamless and visually stunning appearance.
- Practical superhero suits can be incredibly uncomfortable and impractical for actors, leading them to prefer CGI alternatives for their comfort and performance.
- CGI suits can save time and allow for flexibility in design changes during post-production, easing the burden on production departments and preventing double work.
CGI is used in Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Universe films to create the fantastical nature needed for a superhero film, and that surprisingly extends to the hero suits the actors wear as well. From otherworldly villains to foreign planets in the galaxy, CGI is needed by the studios to translate the pages of a comic to the screen. The super-suits may seem like one of the few practical elements in productions dependent on CGI, but many of the suits in MCU and DCU films actually end up being largely or fully CGI.
There is plenty of behind-the-scenes footage showing Marvel and DC actors wearing their super-suits, so audiences may be surprised to find out that the suits in the final cut are usually still CGI-altered even if they don’t seem like it. The computer touch-ups make more sense in busy combat scenes where practical suits are hard to use in stunts, but even suits in non-combat scenes are still largely CGI. It may seem more impractical to have digital artists go back and make the changes in post-production, but there are a number of reasons why Marvel and DC may choose to go this route.
Practical Superhero Suits Can Be Incredibly Uncomfortable
For many actors, their costumes on set play a huge part in immersing them in their role. Being in the setting-appropriate costume can help them get into the headspace of their characters. Especially for actors who sign on to play heroes in the MCU or DCU, they likely envision themselves wearing the notorious superhero suits. However, the super-suits aren’t always all they’re chalked up to be. From skin-tight bodysuits to heavy, hot pieces of metal, superhero suits can be largely uncomfortable and not always feel as good as they look.
In his appearance on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman, MCU icon Robert Downey Jr. explained how he was completely blinded when wearing the original Iron Man helmet. By the time of Infinity War and Endgame, he asked for the helmet to be replaced with CGI. Batman star Christian Bale has also said that his Batsuit was incredibly uncomfortable, saying that it was hard to breathe with the cowl on (via Huffington Post UK) and that the Batman helmet caused headaches (via FandomWire). Even if the practical suits look cool, it’s not surprising that the long-term MCU and DCU actors tend to opt for CGI instead.
Sometimes Movie Studios Change Their Minds About A Super Suit After Filming
The extensive history and decade-long runs of both Marvel and DC comics prove that the possibilities and variations of superhero suits are endless. Among the countless issues, the superhero suits are always developing and changing to fit the character. When it comes time for film directors to adapt these stories onto the big screen, they may pick and choose what elements of the hero’s suit they want to include. However, just like any aspect of a production, not every decision is set in stone by the time of filming, or even afterward.
Whether it’s the director or the studio themselves, design changes can happen after filming. Crafting a whole new practical suit and having the actor go through reshoots is just not feasible, and CGI is the huge solution to that issue. The most notable example is the practical Captain Marvel suit that Brie Larson wore in Avengers: Endgame. Having appeared in all promotional material with the original Captain Marvel suit on, the studio eventually decided to swap it out for a different Captain Marvel suit using CGI to better fit Carol’s character arc.
CGI Suits Can Ease the Burden Amid Pre-Production Time Crunch
In such large-scale projects like Marvel and DC movies, the productions run on tight timelines and depend on each department to meet their deadlines. Each department already has plenty to prepare for before the actors even step on set to film, so it can be hard to get every little detail approved by the studio beforehand. In an interview with Polygon, Marvel’s head of visual development, Ryan Meinerding, explains how they sometimes make the choice to go with CGI suits from the start, with an example being the Time Heist suits in Avengers: Endgame.
Meinerding says that the decision to create the suits in post-production is generally just a way to save time and that some parts of production have to be done later on in the timeline when all the scenes are filmed. With how much studios change their minds about designs, it’s generally just easier and more efficient to make a suit digitally rather than physically. Though overworked CGI artists are another issue in the industry entirely, making the choice for CGI suits from the start can at least help to prevent two departments from doing double the amount of work.
Folds And Creases Can Be Hard To Avoid With Practical Suits
Even if studios insisted on using practical superhero suits in every scene, the result might not be what they originally envisioned. The nature of tighter suits like Spider-Man’s or Superman’s means lots of creases and folds may appear when actors move, which would be a particular pain in franchises so heavily focused on hardcore action. Some may argue that the creases may look more realistic, but Marvel and DC seem to disagree. Digital suits, or at least digital touch-ups on practical suits, help the suits look more form-fitting and perfected.
Practical suits may seem like the move for a more realistic superhero film, but there are often some pretty justifiable reasons behind the production decision. Whether the studio wants to save some time or allow themselves the chance for change in post-production, sometimes the CGI superhero suits are necessary even for the actors’ own comfort. The DC Universe and Marvel Cinematic Universe won’t be letting up on CGI anytime soon, so the digital suits can at least provide some context for fans who are critical of CGI use by the studios.