Creating any movie is a process of trial and error. You have to try out different versions of the script to make sure everything is cohesive from start to finish, look into different costume and character designs, and shoot multiple takes of every scene in order to get the best version possible. This is especially true of a massive blockbuster like Avengers: Endgame. There was so much money and time put into the film, which included storylines from a decade of interconnected movies and a massive roster of lead characters. Everything had to be perfect, from the script down to the time travel suits.
Avengers: Endgame visual effects producer Jen Underdahl sat down with Wired to talk about the different effects that went into this enormous movie, including the creation of the red and white time suits. About 10 minutes into the video interview, which you can watch above, Underdahl says that one of the earlier versions of the suits included a strange "bubble head" helmet, taken from the technology used by the Guardians of the Galaxy.
"The real challenge there was getting the right color tone," Underdahl said of the suits. "We also tried very early on in pre-vis, the notion of having the helmet be made of the Guardians of the Galaxy breather mesh that allowed them to travel into space. We have some early development of them with that being a bubble around their head. But as soon as soon as we started seeing it come up in the post-vis footage, the directors were like, "Ehhh, don't think that looks as heroic as it could possibly look.' So we went ahead and developed helmets for the suits. The Guardians tech then just became the visor."
The bubble shields that the Peter Quill and his team used in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 totally worked out in space, but as the video from Wired shows, they didn't look all that great on the Avengers in Endgame.
You may not have realized it watching Endgame, but the time travel suits worn by the team are completely digital. They were simply layered onto the usual character costumes, allowing them to appear and disappear instantaneously. According to Underdahl, there was also a bit of a time crunch keeping the costume department from manufacturing physical suits.
"You may have noticed that the time suits are a combination of Ant-Man, Tony Stark, and Guardians tech. And that took quite a while for us to land on," Underdahl explained. "By the time we got a final version we were already into principle photography. We knew we were going to build them anyway, because they needed to nano on and off with Tony's tech, so it ended up being that the costume department didn't have time to develop, fit, and fabricate all the costumes for those hero characters, so we ended up doing it digitally. You don't notice, but every time you see one of your heroes in that suit, it's digital."
At the end of the day, the suits wound up looking much better than everyone thought they would after the Avengers: Endgame toys started leaking online. What some fans thought would be a disaster turned out to be just fine, thanks to Jen Underdahl and the visual effects team.