Avengers: Endgame featured one of the biggest battles to ever hit theaters, both in length and scale. Not only was the third-act battle packed to the brim with characters and warring groups, but it also took up nearly the entire third act of the film, providing 45 minutes or more of non-stop action. Using the experience they gathered on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the New Zealand-based Weta Digital was charged with providing Marvel Studios with the digital effects found in the epic Avengers HQ battle at the end of the film.
We had the chance to speak with Weta Digital visual effects supervisor Matt Aitken earlier this week, who helped break down the jaw-dropping sequence.
"We relish the challenge, and we love these opportunities," Aitken says. "But still, this is, as you said, the largest battle that's ever been created in any one of these 22 films. The scope was huge. Also, the weight of expectation from the audience on this movie was off the scale, and so we knew that we just couldn't muck it up."
"We had to honor that level of expectation and really honor the fact that this was the culmination of all these individual storylines," he continues. "So we couldn't mess it up. But like I said, we relish these challenges and it was really, incredibly satisfying work to be engaged with."
The biggest challenge to the fight, Aitken says, was keeping the entire sequence fill constrained. It was their goal at Weta to try and make the fight seem like it was restricted to a much smaller area in the ruins of the Avengers headquarters — after all, why would Thanos bomb unpopulated countryside in upstate New York?
"The key to that was just staging the action within this environment," Aitken recounts. "Because there's a thread running through the whole battle which is our heroes collaborating and teaming up to get the Gauntlet with the Stones across the crater, through to the other side to where the van with the quantum tunnel is sitting, so they can get the stones back in time."
Because the physical set piece these actors filmed on was relatively small compared to what made it on the final screen, it was difficult for the team to get it to look like different places within the small crater battle sequence.
"Because they would have got [to the van] within about the first five minutes of the fight, because the crater is quite small, we had to kind of artfully restage action pieces so that they're covering some ground," mentions Aitken. "And then we back everything up to the other side of the crater and then they cover some more ground. Then we back everything up again."
"So they're kind of going over the same piece of crater over and over again, but hopefully people aren't noticing that," he continues. "Because we like moving the dressing around and changing the perspective, and so it may be that the crater ultimately feels bigger than it is, but we're helping with that by dressing and drifting smoke elements and the atmospheric haze and all these things can help make the crater feel bigger than it actually is."
While certain shots in the final battle had all actors on set — namely the iconic "Avengers Assemble" bit — there were times throughout the fight where Weta had to digitally add characters at various points throughout.0comments
Who do you think had the best ending to their arc in Endgame? Let us know your thoughts either in the comments below!
Avengers: Endgame is now showing and will be followed by Spider-Man: Far From Home on July 2nd. Captain Marvel will be released digitally on May 28th and on home media June 11th.