The Marvel Cinematic Universe is obviously filled with a lot of CGI – after all, it’s easier than training a raccoon how to talk and more legal than bombarding Mark Ruffalo with potentially lethal levels of radiation. This means that some of the most thrilling MCU scenes were cobbled together by hundreds of unfamous (very possibly underpaid) technicians while your favorite actors were busy jumping around an empty room in oversized kiddie pajamas. Yes, some of the very best MCU scenes looked dumb as hell before receiving any digital assistance, such as how …

Spider-Man: No Way Home – Some Pretty Boring Scenes Required Elaborate Effects

Spider-Man: No Way Home featured a ton of amazing visual effects. We doubt it would have become one of the top-grossing movies of all time if the three Spider-Men simply got together to smoke weed and play Mario Kart in Tobey Maguire’s basement. Some of the CGI makes a lot of sense; like obviously, the filmmakers didn’t shoot the climax at the actual Statue of Liberty, so they just built a crown on a blue soundstage and called it a day.

Marvel Studios

And Doc Ock’s tentacles? They were really a couple of helpful dudes in blue onesies.

Marvel Studios

But weirdly, movie magic was employed to make it look like … Flash was at a casual house party?

Marvel Studios/Vanity Fair

Are those extras even real? If so, how do any of us know that we’re real, and not just digital background extras created to accommodate an actor’s shooting schedule? While this may seem like a surprisingly unnecessary use of computer technology, even Doctor Strange’s magic box, which is ultimately just an ornate wooden box, was a visual effect.

Marvel Studios

Without the CGI, it feels like the fate of the world is dependent on a few pieces of lazily-assembled K’nex.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – The Abilisk Fight Was … Gross

Everyone loves Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2; it has action, drama, and ‘80s Kurt Russell seducing women in the woods behind a Dairy Queen – which, we assure you, is a move that only works for ‘80s Kurt Russell. One of the most fun set pieces in the movie is the first; the opening fight against the “Abilisk,” a giant, hideous Lovecraftian monster from another dimension – although for all we know, in his world, he’s the Idris Elba of fanged tentacle creatures.

At one point, Drax attacks the Abilisk from inside the belly of the beast. So to sell this illusion, Dave Bautista apparently had to shiv the hell out of a Godzilla-sized condom.

Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios

Finally, he emerges – we’re pretty sure this is behind-the-scenes footage of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and not David Cronenberg’s home movies.

Marvel Studios

Meanwhile, Starlord looks a tad less impressive in real life with laser guns that don’t produce anything other than disappointment.

Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios

Without the laser blasts, it just looks like he’s jazzercising with a couple of modded Shake Weights.

The Magic of Doctor Strange Wasn’t So Great In Person

If you don’t count whatever sorcery transformed Edward Norton into Mark Ruffalo, Doctor Strange was the first time magic was introduced in the MCU, leading to scenes such as when the soul of Steven Strange is pushed out of his body and sent on a psychedelic journey through every prog-rock album cover in history.

On set, this existential awakening looked more like the world’s most embarrassing bar fight.

Marvel Studios

Meanwhile, Tilda Swinton’s action scenes required being strung up by a rig that was seemingly procured from a local car wash.

Marvel Studios

And as for the titular wizard, he had to fight the forces of evil using two glow-in-the-dark frisbees. 

Marvel Studios

It’s no wonder he totally beefed that spell in No Way Home

Avengers: Endgame – Our Heroes Fought Inanimate Objects

Before Tony Stark heroically sacrificed his life (dooming his soul to be forever trapped in the Dolittle-verse), you might remember the big battle at the end of Avengers: Endgame. Memorably, pretty much every Marvel hero bands together to take on Thanos’ army. It was pretty good, but if someone could quickly CGI Nicolas Cage’s Ghost Rider into the scene, it would be perfect.

In person, things were not so epic. Like Captain America’s fight with Thanos, which involved throwing an invisible shield at a man in tights next to a couple of fake trees and a campfire.

Marvel Studios

And Drax bravely took on a huge, beastly … um, green pommel horse?

Marvel Studios

Thankfully, in the end, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes managed to stop Thanos and his legion of sentient athletic gear.

The Incredible Hulk – Edward Norton Hulked Out in a Small Office

The “Bruno” to the MCU’s family from Encanto, 2008’s The Incredible Hulk doesn’t get discussed all that much. But Edward Norton put a lot of work into playing the loveable green behemoth, starting with the fact that he provided a whole range of facial emotions for his CGI doppelganger. 

To capture the intricacies of the performance, Norton’s face was slathered with some kind of phosphorescent green paint – either that or the visual effects technicians just wanted to see if they could get away with forcing him to dress like he was about to star in the porn parody of The Mask

Marvel Studios

At the very least, Norton truly captured Hulk’s “trying to pass a kidney stone” face better than any other actor.

Marvel Studios

To further establish the role he wouldn’t get to play for too much longer, Norton filmed himself performing some of Hulk’s action scenes, which the visual effects department could then use as a basis for their animation. To do this, he literally just set up a camera in a room and stumbled around like the last one left at an office Christmas party.

Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios

And, just as a reminder, this was all in service of a movie in which Stan Lee is likely killed by Bruce Banner’s tainted Brazilian soda. 

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Top Image: Marvel Studios

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