‘Black Widow’ effects team names their biggest challenges

Image via Disney Plus/Marvel Studios

Along with kick-butt action sequences, Black Widow had its fair share of death-defying stunts performed with the coordination of the stunt teams and the VFX supervisors. Many stunts required a hefty amount of post-production editing to add special effects and emphasize the edge-of-your-seat suspense.

ComicBook.com interviewed David Hoggins, a VFX supervisor at Digital Domain, and Craig Hammack, VFX supervisor at Industrial Light & Magic, who both worked on the film. Hoggins and Hammack were asked which Black Widow stunts were the most challenging to recreate for their respective teams. Hoggins revealed that it was difficult to narrow down the stunts to just one since all of them proved challenging in different ways.

I’m always amazed when I see the Red Room. That was something, from a technical standpoint it was challenging, just to get that much stuff on screen and get it all to render quickly, and the guys did a really good job. They basically did an instancing system and the way they did that, we could translate across to a different package called Houdini, basically procedurally with a script.

It’s hard to pick one. The skydiving sequence, because of the animation, because it was super challenging to kind of ground it in physics or try and make it look believable. And the previous team had given us really solid, almost shot for shot, we almost matched them, but then you get into it and it’s just the physics of it slightly changed. So then you’re just trying to capture the same spirit of the previous, but now you have all these lighting cues and visual cues of where you are and how fast you’re falling, just trying to make it all work and feel the same.

David Hoggins via ComicBook.com

Hammack interjects, saying that the real difficulty came in “balancing” all the elements that craft the most precise stunt sequences. He describes each shot as an “artistic endeavor” and explains that besides the technical aspects of collaborating on stunt work, there always needs to be consideration for other factors such as maintaining the breathtaking cinematography.

The challenging thing there, it’s not an overly technical thing, but it’s just the balance of everything going on. And the fact that there’s this atmosphere and particulate through the room that has to get this red projection scattered through it. And you have to still understand the depth of the room and the action of the fight. And every shot becomes this artistic endeavour with this understanding of, you have to understand the story, you have to understand who’s fighting who, and there’s this beautiful choreography going on that you can’t obliterate. So it’s a real balancing act, and it’s something that became very satisfying to work through and get this kind of beautiful imagery on the screen.

Craig Hammack via ComicBook.com

In the end, the hard work paid off; Black Widow received overall positive reviews and critics praised the performances of Johansson and Pugh along with the action sequences — all of which are owed to the combined efforts of the stunt coordinators and the VFX professionals.

Black Widow was released on July 9. simultaneously in theaters and through Disney Plus with premier access. The 24th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Widow sees Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) on the run from the government after the mishap with the Sokovian accords in Captain America: Civil War. Romanoff confronts her past along the way, even reuniting with her long-lost half-sister, Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh).