Why Does She-Hulk’s CGI Look So Bad?

The disclosure of first trailer of She-Hulk: Defender of Heroes generated a more negative than optimistic repercussion for the new series of wonder on Disney+. Scheduled to hit streaming on August 17, the series has become cause for jokes and trepidation primarily because of the special effects used to transform actress Tatiana Maslany into the emerald heroine. But why did CGI bother you so much?

The truth is that criticism is not new. Marvel fans have been complaining for some time about the quality of the effects applied to their movies and series. Just remember the comments made in the final battle of black Panther or the lack of refinement in moon knight and even in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

But all the same, She-Hulk seems like a case that goes a bit beyond that last straw of a long-standing problem. There are a few other reasons that intensify this weirdness in the Hulk’s cousin story – and it could be both fate and salvation for the series to come.

the valley of the strange

Making a human CGI is not so simple. Although we always like to say that technology has reached incredible levels and believe that initiatives like rejuvenating Mark Hamill so that he can stay young forever will be the future of cinema, the truth is that things are not so advancements.

Also because infographics are laborious and therefore expensive. There are endless details that the responsible teams must work on to ensure that the image is as realistic as possible on screen. Skin texture, lighting effects, muscle and hair movement, and facial expressions, to name a few. Not to mention those virtually impossible-to-reproduce micro-movements that make the digital luke skywalker Boba Fett’s Book look like a wax doll.

She-Hulk looks like a video game doll walking around (Image: Reproduction/Marvel Studios)

And that’s one of the main reasons She-Hulk looks so unreal in defender of heroes. Notice in the trailer how smooth the character’s face is like a video game doll, without any sort of imperfection common to anyone. And when she makes faces and mouths when she don’t match none tinderthe movement of the muscles in her face isn’t quite the same as that of a real person, making her look much more like the Momo doll meme than actress Tatiana Maslany.

This valley of strangeness is all the more evident because, unlike what happens with the Hulk, the heroine has a much more human look – and we know how a human body works, moves and reacts. While Hulk and the Abomination are monstrous and oversized, which further guarantees a poetic freedom to be unreal, She-Hulk is, in short, their greatest and greenest performer.

And that’s what allows us to compare and show how weird everything is. This is even more evident by the simple fact that the character is the protagonist of the plot and, therefore, has much more importance. While the Hulk has popped up here and there among the Avengers, his cousin will be the star of his own series and will have a lot more screen time, meaning more time for us to notice those technical imperfections.

Additionally, the trailer also features most of Jennifer Walters’ daytime scenes, which is an added challenge for the CGI. Have you noticed how nearly all hero movies focus their action scenes in the dark? It’s an artistic solution to soften and camouflage all those imperfections, but it doesn’t work when the character is a lawyer walking around in her colossal form around the clock.

It’s almost as if a spotlight is placed above all of these limitations, highlighting a problem that isn’t unique to She-Hulk, but one that she comes to personify so she can’t dodge it.

Budget limits

As I said, working with good CGI is hard work and, for that very reason, quite expensive. That’s why movies like Avengers: Endgame have a stratospheric budget.

Placing the character in daylight highlights the imperfections of the digital model (Image: Reproduction/Marvel Studios)

This is why television series have always been more restrained in the use of visual effects. While cinema treats these expenses as investments thinking of a return to the box office, television productions tend to have a more modest budget that almost never allows for large visual exaggerations.

There are exceptions, such as The iron Thronebut the most common are cases like the CW series, which used digital personas or splashed powers only on very special occasions throughout their seasons.

This is the other point that helps to understand why things are so weird with She-Hulk: Defender of Heroes. As much as the Walt Disney Company of money, Mickey’s pocket isn’t endless, and there’s no way to compare the series budget of a character almost unknown to the public with the big debut of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU, in the original acronym) in theaters.

Is there time for change?

To be very realistic, the chances of seeing a big change in the quality of She-Hulk are pretty low. There are only three months left until the debut of Defender of Heroes, and it’s hard to believe there will be enough time to redo all the digital models. Because it’s expensive.

Remaking the model is time consuming and expensive (Image: Reproduction/Marvel Studios)

While the Sonic Affair filled the hearts of fans enough to pressure studios to heed the popular appeal, the Hedgehog Affair came at a price. Redo character design done sonic: the movie costs $35 million more than initially planned for a story of 1h40. So how much would it cost to do the same for a nine-episode series?

Ignoring the fact that it could take the show months to complete the redesign, this new investment would pretty much seal She-Hulk’s fate. Assuming Disney agrees to shell out a few million more to improve the heroine’s look, it would skyrocket the cost of production for a return that might not be very exciting. In other words, this could be the path to a loss that would lead to the death of Jennifer Walters.

The Return of She-Hulk

Despite all the criticism and jokes about She-Hulk – something even the competition has done, with HBO Max comparing her to Fiona, from Shrek β€” it may be that this kind of bum look could be used within the series itself as an element of humor and breaking the fourth wall. It’s the kind of solution that doesn’t soften the work of silliness presented by Marvel, but can be reversed to highlight what’s most interesting about the character: good humor.

Long before Deadpool existed, She-Hulk was already talking to the comic book reader in his magazines and even playing with page layouts and fighting with the author himself because of certain situations. In one of the most iconic passages of John Byrne’s phase, for example, Jennifer Walters tears up the drawing and comes out from behind the paintings to protest the artist’s laziness in drawing.

In the comics, She-Hulk broke the fourth wall to complain about the author’s laziness (Image: Durval Ramos/Canaltech)

And it could easily be replicated within the MCU to explore that trait. Have you ever wondered if She-Hulk would get satisfaction from Kevin Feige the low budget of your series and the fact that it looks like Lu from Magalu? It’s the kind of joke that works in the style of the heroine’s story and fits well with Marvel’s humor. Not to mention that films and series have been repeating games with the fourth wall for some time, which can be further developed in defender of heroes.

But again: it would be more a way to take advantage of a problem than a real justification for this weird look. Still, it’s a good way to remind us that content is more important than form.

She-Hulk: Defender of Heroes premieres on Disney+ on August 17, 2022.

Leave a Comment