- Marvel Studios
- Samuel L. Jackson is de-aged by about 25 years in “Captain Marvel.”
- Around 500 shots of Jackson needed to be de-aged for the movie, the most de-aging that has been done in a Marvel project.
- The VFX team referenced Jackson’s ’90s movies, including “The Negotiator” and “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” to make sure he looked just right.
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Jackson’s look was one of the toughest to nail because he appears in so much of the superhero movie.
“It was actually a big challenge to get him 25 years younger and look the way that he did,” Marvel visual effects supervisor Janelle Croshaw Ralla told Insider during a press day at the Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank, California. “Each scene had its own methodology.”
- Marvel Studios, composite by Kirsten Acuna/Insider
The visual effects team referenced a number of Jackson’s older movies, including the “Star Wars” prequels, to bring specific moments to life.
“We referenced ‘Diehard with a Vengeance,’ ‘The Negotiator,’ ‘Sphere’ a little bit, [and] even ‘The Phantom Menace’ a little bit for a couple of shots,” said Croshaw Ralla of the ’90s films they went through.
“It was pretty amazing,” Croshaw Ralla added. “You could go back to those movies and find exact frames where he looked exactly the same, like the exact same expression. He was just aged.”
Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel actually put images of Jackson from 1998’s “The Negotiator” and “Captain Marvel” side by side for viewers to see the resemblance.
The de-aging of Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury was more complex than what we’ve seen in any other Marvel movie or show
We’ve seen de-aging in Marvel movies before, but not like this.
Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark was de-aged in a small moment in “Captain America: Civil War” and Michael Douglas was de-aged in both “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and “Avengers: Endgame” briefly.
Gregg’s Agent Coulson was de-aged in about 50 shots of “Captain Marvel.”
There are 10 times as many shots of Jackson that were de-aged for the Marvel film that required the work of three VFX houses: Rising Sun Pictures, Lola, and Screen Scene Visual Effects (SSVFX).
“There were over 500 shots. So he was by far our main focus,” Croshaw Ralla said of one of the biggest challenges of bringing “Captain Marvel” to screen.
“This actually was handled very differently from other Marvel shows because other Marvel shows have had a lot less de-aging. It wasn’t throughout the whole film,” she added.
- Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios
Croshaw Ralla said in other cases they simply use a body double to capture skin texture and to help with the de-aging process on-screen. That wasn’t what was done with Jackson in “Captain Marvel.”
“In this one, we just couldn’t afford to do that,” said Croshaw Ralla. “By cutting out the body double it also cut down the production time on set by half. And so we did a test early on with Lola where they did a beautiful test with Sam Jackson.”
The VFX team convinced the filmmakers to go this route for a more noninvasive approach to Jackson’s de-aging on set.
“Sam could just act the way he wanted to act and we basically fixed it in post [production],” said Croshaw Ralla.
Making sure they’re not taking away from Jackson’s performance
There are so many tiny subtle things that go into the de-aging process that audiences may not even realize, which include changing up hands and posture and thinning people. Those are the details that made it one of the most challenging aspects of the movie other than getting Goose the Cat just right.
“It’s easy to go into the uncanny valley when you’re taking 25 years off of somebody,” said Croshaw Ralla. “You’re literally modifying so much from the whole body to the face that it’s easy to all of a sudden take the viewer out of the scene and have it not match from scene to scene or go too far and it doesn’t look like him anymore.”
“The most important thing is that you’re not taking away from his performance,” added The Third Floor visual effects supervisor Shannon Justison. “You want Sam Jackson’s performance to come through at all times. That’s our number one concern.”
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