Movie visual effects have come a long way, from the stop-motion puppetry that first brought King Kong to life, to the early computer animation of Tron, to whatever technology is used today to ensure that no above-the-line Marvel talent need step foot in the real world ever again. But as great as these effects may look in the finished film, as we like to point out from time to time, they often look pretty dumb behind the scenes, such as how ...

Space Jam: A New Legacy Looked Weird as Hell, Just Like The Original

In what turned out to be a $150 million pop-up ad for a streaming service you were probably already watching, Space Jam: A New Legacy, much like the original Space Jam, took a basketball superstar (this time LeBron James) and paired him with those wacky animated cut-ups from Looney Tunes, all with the ultimate goal of screwing over the Walt Disney Corporation. 

While LeBron wasn’t being manhandled by green ninjas while filming like his predecessor Michael Jordan, making A New Legacy did require the similarly unreal task of shooting hoops with guys in mo-cap suits in front of a sea of extras seemingly wearing Spirit Halloween costumes of characters ranging from the Joker, to King Arthur, to the stars of an X-rated movie from the ‘70s that has virtually been banned. 

Warner Bros.

Sometimes the villainous “Goon Squad” were just a head, shoulders, and jersey being wheeled around by a gripagain while a random assortment of Warner Brosowned characters awkwardly cheered in the background.  

Warner Bros.

And triumphant moments like LeBron’s epic dunk were in reality slightly less awesomeas in, they had to slowly zipline him all the way to the basket like a pair of slacks at the dry cleaner’s.

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

A familiar green ninja did show up at one point at least to pass the ball to LeBron’s fake son

Warner Bros.

before slowly walking away with zero concern that Neo, Pennywise, and Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz could all clearly see the outline of his junk. 

Warner Bros.

The Suicide SquadKing Shark Was a Dude in Padded Pajamas

How do you follow up a movie in which the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, a clownified psychiatrist, and some kind of grotesque mutant crocodile-man battle a literal ancient Aztec witch-demon using the power of ... friendship? Well, with an ultra-violent story in which our semi-familiar band of antiheroes invade a fictional South American nation following a military coup and are almost killed by a giant alien starfish, and making one of the most memorable characters in the new movie a giant, walking, talking shark. 

The talking part was fulfilled by the legendary actor behind such roles as Rocky Balboa, John Rambo, and Cliff Hanger: Sylvester Stallone. But as for the character’s on-set movement, that was all done by comedian Steve Agee, who also has a small non-shark-based role in the movie. To approximate his character’s eventual CGI frame, Agee was forced to wear a motion capture suit consisting of bulky, padded pajamas and a headpiece that looks like it came from an avant garde remake of Teletubbies.

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

Agee even looked slightly ridiculous while standing next to a guy with multicolored polka dot pustules glowing underneath the skin on his face.

Warner Bros.

According to Agee, he was under the impression that he would just have to wear a bodysuit, but on his first day of work, Agee found that he had to wear a “50 pound … girdle.” The suit had to be modified because, even though it was made of foam, it ended up being a lot “heavier” than they originally intended once it was painted. If that wasn’t bad enough, after wearing his suit for some of the water-based scenes, Agee got bad “rashes” all over his body. Presumably while all this was happening, Stallone was somewhere very comfortable, drinking scotch and not wearing anything at all resembling a shark costume.

Mortal KombatGoro Was Two Guys on Top of Each Other

Satiating America’s need to see monsters and ninjas disembowel one another without having to endure the effort of moving our thumbs slightly, we recently got a new Mortal Kombat film, about a mythical interdimensional martial arts tournament called “Mortal Kombat” that, for some reason, never actually transpires in the movie Mortal Kombat. One of the franchise’s most instantly recognizable characters is Goro, the four-armed behemoth that was brought to life in the 1995 movie thanks to an elaborate animatronic suitone that was able to perfectly sell the illusion that he was a flesh-and-blood fighter who was scary but not immune to a swift punch to the balls.

New Line Cinema

For the new movie, rather than force some poor crew guy to permanently damage his back playing a muscular dragon-man in bikini briefs, they used CGI. In real life, he was either represented by a guy in a funny hat, kind of like the Pope if he was sponsored by Nerf

Warner Bros.

—or two dudes on top of each other throwing wild punches, in what looks like a bar fight between rival Cirque Du Soleil troupes.

Warner Bros.

Even the rough footage probably would have worked with EDM blasting in the background, to be honest. 

LokiAlligator Loki was an Adorable Stuffed Animal in Real Life

When we meet the various Lokis of the multiverse in Marvel’s Loki show, they come from a variety of different backgrounds, lest Tom Hiddleston get paid even more money. Most distinctly, one of them is a goddamn alligator, presumably from the world where the God of Mischief moonlights as a Florida college football mascot. Since nobody wanted to take the chance that Owen Wilson’s foot might get bitten off during the shoot, they didn’t get a real gator, and instead went the CGI route. So while filming, they used what looks like the kind of old toy you’d expect to find collecting dust in the waiting room of a pediatrician's office.

Marvel

And as for the scene where Alligator Loki bites off one of the other alternate Loki’s hands, that was accomplished by the good old “toss the friggin’ thing across the room” technique.

Marvel

Marvel

Though you’d think Disney of all companies would be concerned that toys might be able to feel pain.

Army of the DeadCopy and Pasting Tig Notaro Into the Movie Was a Lonely Affair

Solving the world’s glaring lack of zombie-based entertainment, Zack Snyder recently released Army of the Dead, the action-heist flick set in a post-apocalyptic Las Vegas, AKA Las Vegas. As we’ve mentioned before, comedian Chris D’Elia was fired from the film after being accused of sexual misconduct, even though he’d already shot his scenes, and was replaced by Tig Notaro, the Christopher Plummer of the comedy world. According to Snyder, they spent “a few million” copy-and-pasting Notaro into the movie, and the whole process looked … pretty bizarre.

Basically, Tig Notaro had to repeat all the actions needed for each scene she was being plopped into, which required, say, firing a machine gun while alone in front of a green screen in an empty soundstage.

Netflix

Or if she was interacting with another human being, it was someone in a green bodysuit who was definitely not Dave Bautista, whom she reportedly has still never even met.  

Netflix

Netflix

And speaking of dudes in green bodysuits, the freakish zombie-tiger was similarly just some dude in spandex who had to run around on all fours and act all cat-like.

Netflix

Netflix

As far as we know, that was always the plan, there wasn’t like a real tiger who was accused of something terrible and had to be replaced.  

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter! And check out the podcast Rewatchability.

Top Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

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