The MCU is one of the biggest film franchises of the last decade, and the innovative storytelling that comes with adapting Marvel comics' beloved characters for the big screen is both entertaining and impressive. And though films like Spier-Man: Homecoming and Avengers: Endgame display quality visual effects, there is still plenty of bad CGI in Marvel movies.
Black Panther has perhaps the worst CGI in Marvel movies, as evidenced by the computer generated battle between T'Challa and Killmonger. The Incredible Hulk also displays some unconvincing CGI, with a villain who seems ripped straight from a video game.
No one would accuse Marvel of having the worst visual effects in superhero movies, but the scheduling and budgetary demands of its multi-hero franchises have sometimes shortchanged the studio's films. For example, the VFX team for Thor: Ragnarok had to turn a New York alleyway into a Norwegian cliff side in eight weeks. And though Iron Man's highly anticipated nano armor in Infinity War isn't the most convincing effect, it's also true that Marvel fans have high expectations.
The MCU generally delivers spectacular special effects along with entertaining narratives. That's what makes the worst CGI in Marvel movies too distracting to ignore.
2008's The Incredible Hulk stars Edward Norton as the titular character foiled by Emil Blonsky as the Abomination. Though the film has its fair share of ups and down regarding the overall narrative, the most distracting issue is the less-than-stellar visual effects which make both Hulk and the Abomination "look like video game avatars" as Don Kaye from Syfy Wire so eloquently puts it.
Though The Incredible Hulk is a visual improvement from Lou Ferrigno's TV Hulk in the 1970s, the Abomination appears overdone, almost animated, making it difficult for audiences to really involve themselves in the climatic action around which the story is formulated. An earlier scene, in which a pre-Abomination Blonsky checks out his new muscles, is almost enough to make viewers check out entirely.
The visual team for Black Panther used CG models rather than the actors themselves to construct elaborate action sequences. While visual effects studios have made incredible strides with CGI, the CG replacements in this otherwise refreshingly innovative film are anything but convincing. This is particularly notable during the battle between Killmonger and T'Challa in which the computer generated characters weightlessly face off in a train tunnel.
According to the VFX movies chart, big-budget films and blockbusters now require upwards of 2,000 VFX scenes, as opposed to the average 500-1,000 VFX scenes required before CGI was as advanced as it is now. This means overworked and underpaid VFX teams can sometimes fall short, as is evidenced in Black Panther.
As visually advanced as Avengers: Infinity War is, it does fall short on occasion. For every impressive scene of Spider-Man slinging webs and Weta Digital's intricate iteration of the battle on Titan, there is something rather ridiculous and unbelievable to counter. Bruce Banner's head jutting out of the Hulkbuster suit, for example, is so unnatural it distracts from the scene.
During the battle in Wakanda, Banner (who has been unable to transform into the Hulk since an earlier beatdown by Thanos) dons the heavy-hitting Hulkbuster armor. Though a Hulk-sized Iron Man should be daunting, the motions of its human pilot just don't quite sync with the CG suit - making it appear as though Banner's disembodied head is floating somewhere in the middle distance.
In Iron Man 3, Aldrich Killian began developing Extremis-enhanced super soldiers after Tony Stark refused to work with him. When the pair face off at the end of the film, Killian is able to go toe-to-toe with Iron Man due to his own Extremis-enhanced physique.
VFX supervisor Chris Townsend created a dazzling CGI blend to make the Extremis effect, and while the glow that emanates from Killian looks convincingly hot, it's glaringly obvious when actor Guy Pearce is replaced by a CG model for the more complicated choreography. As a result, Killian as the big bad looks more rubbery than realistic.