Marvel Studios will not use digital technology to involve deceased actors in their films, according to executive vice president of production Victoria Alonso. Former Captain America star Chris Evans called out this practice when producers of Vietnam War-era action-drama Finding Jack announced plans to digitally recreate James Dean, who died in 1955, for a decades-later posthumous appearance in the film, reportedly with the full support of Dean's family. But Disney-owned Marvel Studios — whose de-aging technology shaved decades off stars like Michael Douglas in Ant-Man and Samuel L. Jackson in Captain Marvel — has no plans to use that same groundbreaking technology to recreate late actors, regardless of date of death.
"We haven't considered that," Alonso told Yahoo Movies. Instead, Marvel will continue to blend the performances of real live actors with digital technology to bring characters like Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) or Thanos (Josh Brolin) to life.
"The experience of doing Thanos and Hulk brought it into very clear view that you need the live performance of Josh Brolin and Mark Ruffalo," Alonso said. "That's the magic that's onscreen; we do everything we can to put them in a position with their counterparts so that we're getting as much of their brilliance was we possibly can in the final imagery."
Original Star Wars actor Peter Cushing, who died in 1994, appeared in 2016's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story when Lucasfilm used similar technology to "resurrect" Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin in the prequel taking place immediately before the events of 1977's Star Wars. Such practices won't make their way into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which lost its most frequent cameo star when Marvel Comics visionary Stan Lee died in 2018.
"It's a little bit of a philosophical and moral decision that is always going to be a studio level decision," said Industrial Light & Magic VFX supervisor Craig Hammack, who worked on Captain Marvel. "It is something that we're all aware of, because the possibilities are coming and our hope is that it doesn't happen in an irresponsible way. Personally, I don't want to see something that's not the performance of the person represented as the person."
In a recent interview promoting the home release of Avengers: Endgame, producer Alonso declared Marvel will "never try to replace" Lee, who last appeared in a 1970s-set scene in Endgame.
"Stan Lee is not replaceable. So we will never try," Alonso told Miami Latin News when asked who might take over Lee's cameo duties following his death. "That is the legend, the man, we will never try to replace him. Other people will come around, and then you have someone as phenomenally creative as [Marvel Studios president] Kevin Feige, but there's only one Stan Lee."
Upcoming Marvel Studios projects include Black Widow on May 1, The Eternals on November 6, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on February 12, 2021, WandaVision in spring 2021, Loki in spring 2021, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on May 7, 2021, Spider-Man 3 on July 16, 2021, What If? In summer 2021, Hawkeye in fall 2021, Thor: Love and Thunder on November 5, 2021, and Black Panther 2 on May 6, 2022. Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, and She-Hulk are also in the works for Disney+.