When the likes of The Abyss, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Jurassic Park began ushering in the CGI revolution almost 30 year ago, nobody could have predicted how ubiquitous the technology would become over the next several decades. Advances in visual effects have seen budgets for Hollywood blockbusters get higher and higher, pushing the boundaries of what can be realized onscreen, with pixels often being an easier and safer option for staging action set-pieces than putting stunt performers through the wringer.
The advent of CGI also coincided with the rise of the comic book movie as the industry’s most bankable genre, with characters and powers that couldn’t be realistically depicted in the movies beforehand now being created via computer. The biggest beneficiaries of this have been Marvel Studios, with the MCU reigning supreme as the most lucrative and popular franchise in the business.
However, some people in the stunt game much prefer the old-fashioned way of doing things, including those that have previously worked under the Marvel banner. Avengers: Age of Ultron‘s stunt coordinator Greg Powell, for one, has admitted that he isn’t a huge fan of CGI-assisted action, and prefers movies with set-pieces that audiences can easily buy into.
“There’s too much CGI, too much. I really liked working on Angel Has Fallen and The Hitman’s Bodyguard because you can actually do stunts. It’s proper stunts and you can get away with it. The audience can say, ‘he could have actually done that’ or ‘they could have survived that’, whereas you get these big CGI pictures… it’s good for the audience if they like that stuff… but I prefer real films, if you know what I mean.”
You can see where Powell’s coming from, especially when you consider that he has almost 50 years of experience in the business and has worked on franchises like James Bond, Mission: Impossible, Bourne and Fast and Furious, which have often favored more practical work at the expense of CGI-assisted chaos.
That being said, Avengers: Age of Ultron‘s title character was an eight-foot tall robot and he did battle with green rage monsters, Norse gods and billionaires in flying armor, so it surely didn’t come as much of a surprise to him that he spent a vast majority of his time working against a green-screen.