The Marvel Cinematic Universe has often fallen into a repetitive trap when it comes to each new installment’s climactic third act action scene, with the franchise opting to throw as much CGI at the wall as possible to deliver awe-inspiring scale and spectacle, which can sometimes come at the expense of story and character.
It would be fair to say the effects-driven final showdowns of both Black Widow and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings were the weakest parts of this summer’s MCU output, but Spider-Man: No Way Home managed to pull off an even trickier feat by incorporating a trio of Peter Parkers, five villains and Doctor Strange into the mix, while still managing to deliver plenty of emotional beats peppered throughout the battle.
In an interview with Befores & Afters, visual effects supervisor Kelly Port broke down the challenges of crafting a lengthy scrap set at night that featured a trio of web-slingers wearing vaguely similar costumes, and what the team had to do in order to ensure that Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire stood out as individuals.
“Well, we did. And in fact, the suits are different. In the end battle, there’s a lot of passing and things like that. Editorially, we did everything we could to just make sure that it was as clear as possible, whether through handovers, meaning you saw more than one Spidey in a frame handing something off and tossing something to somebody else, so that you know who’s who for the most part, in addition to what the different suits look like.
And, as you mentioned, stylistically, they each have their own kind of iconic poses. This is especially the case where after the sandstorm and regrouping, you get that amazing theme music where even the scores are intertwined. You get some of the Danny Elfman stuff in there, and it’s really, really cool, because each have their own themes. When all three jumping onto the top of the statue head, backlit by the moon, you get those iconic poses as well in the air.
We just took great pains to even get their running styles and the gaits and their iconic poses in the air and their swinging styles, things like that. We had a few animators, both at Imageworks and DD and I think a few other places, where a lot of those artists and animators had worked on those previous films, so it was fun to get their firsthand experience on that, too. We had animators animating Doc Ock walking who had done the original Doc Ock walking. So that was cool. Imageworks handled that end-sequence on the Statue of Liberty, with Cinesite doing the shield fight with Green Goblin.”
Unsurprisingly, a lot of it was based on iconography and musical cues as the scene cut between the three Spideys mixing and matching which of the multiversal bad guys they were fighting at any given moment, and almost everyone would agree that No Way Home accomplished what it set out to do spectacularly.