If you were taken aback by Tony Stark’s face during his final moments in “Avengers: Endgame,” it could have looked a lot more grisly.
“We gave the filmmakers a full range [of looks] to choose from and one of those was where the energy from the stones had acted right up into his face and popped one of his eyeballs out and it was hanging out on his cheek,” Weta digital VFX supervisor Matt Aitken told Insider of one of the most gruesome designs they did for Iron Man’s death.
“They didn’t go for that one,” Aitken chuckled.
The “Endgame” visual effects team, consisting of Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), Marvel, and Weta Digital, put together a full range of looks for Marvel Studios and directors Anthony and Joe Russo to look over.
The team needed to strike the perfect balance between a look that was believable enough that Tony could die, but that wasn’t too scary for kids and families to watch together.
This was one of many designs made for Tony’s death scene.
“With any development item, you want to be able to give the filmmakers a full gamut, from sort of a light touch all the way to horror, and this will never be in it,” said Marvel VFX producer Jen Underdahl. “But by doing that exercise and by letting them see sort of every stage, they can kind of pinpoint and circle the drain on where they think the look is going to settle.”
“We did go several rounds on that guy from grisly to not so grisly to more light of a touch, back to OK this is the spot where we think the audience is not going to get too freaked out, but also really understand that Tony has reached the point of no return,” Underdahl added.
The film helped lay out viewer’s expectations for Tony’s impending death by physically showing the damage the stones did to two other larger, powerful characters. The idea was that, hopefully, by the time Tony snapped and used the gauntlet viewers would be able to see the consequences of him wielding the stones.
“We had seeded in the film this notion of Thanos having damage. There are consequences to him snapping and pursuing this ideology. You see the damage in his face and what that did to him, and he’s built for this,” said Underdahl. “Then [you] see the consequences to Smart Hulk, who was made of gamma radiation and the damage that it did there.”
If this is what the stones did to Hulk, then you had to know it wasn’t going to go well for Tony.
(Marvel Studios, composite by Kirsten Acuna)
“You knew somewhere in the math that Tony himself, even though he’s got this suit and it’s going to fight for him, ultimately what’s going to result would be something he couldn’t recover from,” she added.
Atkins, Underdahl, and Marvel visual effects supervisor Swen Gillberg said they pushed the design past where they wanted to go so that they ultimately fell somewhere right in the middle of two extremes.
Another one of those extreme looks involved a nod to one of Batman’s most famous villains.
“We did do a Two-Face version where you got inside and you saw the sinews and you saw them in the teeth and that,” said Underdahl of another one of the more grisly Tony Stark designs.
In “The Dark Knight,” the Batman villain, Harvey Dent, is severely burned after half of his face is lit on fire.
For reference, here’s how Dent/Two-Face looks. I think it’s safe to say no one would have wanted to see this version of Tony.
“It takes you away from this really powerful moment,” said Underdahl of why that wouldn’t have been the right move for that moment. “You don’t want to be focusing on that or grossed out.”
“When he’s collapsing against the tree stump, you’ve got to know that he’s in a really bad predicament, that he has made this terrible sacrifice,” Atkins added. “But then you also didn’t want it to distract from his performance. And it’s a really subtle performance that he has in those intimate moments with Spidey and then with Pepper. So yeah we definitely worked quite hard on achieving that one, but we got there.”
“Avengers: Endgame” is one of 10 films on the shortlist for the visual effects category at the 92nd Academy Awards. The five final Oscar nominees will be announced Monday morning.
This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.
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