The grand final battle of Avengers: Endgame, in which every single hero from across the Marvel Cinematic Universe assembles to fight Thanos and his forces, is easily one of the most thrilling, fan-pleasing sequences in the franchise so far. Everyone’s there; the Avengers, the Guardians, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Howard the Duck…Wait, what?
Yes, as some eagle-eyed fans have noticed, Howard is revealed to be taking part in the conflict during a few shots, making him one of the most unlikely easter eggs in the whole movie. So, how did one of Marvel’s most infamous characters, who’s previously turned up for a couple of cameos in the Guardians of the Galaxy films, find his way into Endgame?
Well, ComicBook.com got the answer from Matt Aitken, visual effects supervisor at Weta Digital, who explained that the call to add the hero from Duckworld into the scene came relatively late in the day.
“If Howard the Duck’s in there, then it’s kind of like everybody’s in there, right? Nobody’s missed out. We got that call from Marvel that and we were well underway with that shot and we were kind of close to finishing some of them, so it was a little bit of a scramble. But it wasn’t totally last minute.”
MORE FROM THE WEB
It was a happy coincidence that there was a natural gap between some Ravagers in the shot, which allowed Howard to be slotted in – not too out of sight but enough for him not to be immediately obvious.
“We said we had time to do it, and there was a nice little gap between a couple of the Ravagers that he would just drop right into. It was nice that he wasn’t so obvious in the middle of the frame that everybody was going to see him straight away. It was a little bit of a nice little Easter egg that people would have to hunt out to a degree.”
In total, Howard only appears in Endgame for just 18 frames. This didn’t mean Aitken’s team could take it easy in animating him, however, as he was just as complicated to realize as any other CG character with a lot more screentime.
“You can’t skimp on these things, so he’s a hero insert, he’s got feathers, all the feathers are rigged. He’s got hero pictures and he had to be animated. There’s no corner-cutting in lots of this work, you just have to do it. But we did it all, and just delighted that he could be in there.”
As unexpected as his cameo might be, it’s kind of fitting that Howard the Duck appeared in Avengers: Endgame. After all, his 1986 self-titled movie was the first Marvel production on the big screen and his role reminds us just how far the House of Ideas’ cinematic output has come over the past 30+ years.