- Many older Marvel movies still have CGI scenes that hold up to the test of time.
- The Battle of New York in “The Avengers” is considered one of the most brilliantly crafted action scenes in the MCU, with CGI still holding up well after years.
- The use of CGI in “Spider-Man 3” to bring the Venom symbiote to life is an impressive effect that still looks good, especially in its distinctive movements.
Both in the early days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and before, there have been a number of classic Marvel movie CGI moments that still look great years later. The movies in the MCU timeline may have revolutionized the superhero movie genre, but there were a number of precursors to Marvel’s groundbreaking shared cinematic universe. As technology has improved, so has studios’ ability to bring the often fantastical stories of superheroes to life on the big screen, with many new methods of making even the most outlandish scenes look convincing in live-action movies.
CGI has long been a crucial method of realizing superhero stories on the screen. Although CGI technology has undergone a transformation over the past two decades, it has been in use for far longer, being heavily employed in movies since the 1970s. The fantastical, larger-than-life nature of superheroes and their powers often requires extensive CGI to bring to life, and despite technological innovations, there have actually been a number of examples of CGI aging remarkably well. Many classic Marvel movie moments actually hold up brilliantly to this day, despite years passing since their release.
10 The Silver Surfer
Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer (2007)
Though the MCU’s Fantastic Four will finally bring the titular team into the franchise, their previous cinematic outings have boasted some solid CGI. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer may have failed to impress critics or fans with its story, but its physical depiction of the Silver Surfer is something that has actually aged reasonably well. Bringing the cosmic character to life required extensive CGI that tested the limits of 2007’s technology, and the result still looks respectable when judged after well over a decade of innovation. The film may have got many things wrong, but its Silver Surfer still looks the part.
9 The Battle Of New York
The Avengers (2012)
One of the most iconic moments in the MCU came at the climax of Phase 1, marking perhaps one of the classic Marvel movie moments of all time. The Battle of New York is still considered one of the franchise’s most brilliantly crafted action scenes, with many characters fully rendered in CGI. The likes of the Chitauri invaders, the Hulk, and Iron Man are all the products of CGI, as are the powers of Thor and multiple other elements of the scene. Despite the extensive use of CGI to bring the Battle of New York to life, it still looks excellent today after more than a decade of technological advancement.
8 The Venom Symbiote
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, the final installment is largely considered the worst, but it does contain some impressive CGI. The film’s use of three villains was widely criticized, but with each requiring extensive CGI to be brought to life, the film made use of the best technology available. Though it may not have aged perfectly, the Venom symbiote seen in the film is an impressive effect, especially in the way that it moves and interacts with various characters. The distinctive movements of Venom’s ooze-like substance are brilliantly crafted with CGI and hold up well even years later.
7 Asgardian Magic
As the first god introduced into the franchise, Thor’s MCU powers are impressive, and also can’t be represented through practical effects. The magic of Asgard naturally plays a major role in Thor’s MCU origin story, and the computer-generated effects used to bring it to life look as good today as they did in 2011. The likes of Odin, Loki, and Thor himself all use different powers, and many elements of Asgard including the Bifrost are completely rendered using CGI. The film’s visuals still look outstanding years after its release, with its many CGI moments aging particularly well.
6 Nightcrawler’s Attack On The Oval Office
Fox’s X-Men movies may have varied wildly in quality, but X2 is broadly considered one of the franchise’s best efforts. Though the film actually makes relatively minimal use of CGI, it is used in order to bring the teleportation powers of Nightcrawler to life. The film opens with a scene showing Nightcrawler teleporting around the White House and taking out various security guards, vanishing and materializing in a puff of smoke each time he uses his powers. It’s a simple effect, but it’s one that still looks great over two decades after the film’s release.
5 The Green Goblin’s Burning Building Trap
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man transformed the superhero movie genre upon its 2002 release, and many of its effects still look excellent years later. One scene in which CGI is most heavily used sees Spider-Man enter a burning building, only to find it a trap set by the Green Goblin. Surrounded by flames, a computer-generated Spider-Man dodges a number of the Green Goblin’s computer-generated bladed missiles, and the whole thing still looks incredibly good. Considering the two decades of technological advancement since the scene was made, it’s aged remarkably well.
4 Pre-Serum Steve Rogers
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
One of the MCU’s earlier uses of CGI came in Captain America: The First Avenger, used to depict Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers as especially small before being given the super soldier serum. Evans’ face was superimposed onto a smaller body double using CGI, and the result is surprisingly convincing. In fact, it remains one of the MCU’s most convincing uses of CGI even after over a decade of movies, meaning that it holds up shockingly well to this day.
3 Doctor Octopus’ Tentacles
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Spider-Man 2 introduced the iconic Spider-Man villain Doc Ock into the world of live-action movies, and it used CGI to bring him to life. The villain’s robotic tentacles are a key feature of the character, and CGI was used to add them onto actor Alfred Molina. Considering the film’s 2004 release, the effect looks excellent, even when judged by today’s standards set by big-budget films using superior technology. How well the effects have aged also plays into how beloved the film remains so many years after its release.
2 The Human Torch
Fantastic Four (2005)
2005’s Fantastic Four may have come before the huge success of the MCU, but it also played a key role in the evolution of superhero cinema. One of the film’s most important effects was the aesthetic depiction of the Human Torch, and though the CGI used might not look quite as good as modern effects, it still holds up surprisingly well. It may no longer represent the finest CGI technology available, but even by more modern standards, 2005’s Human Torch still looks passably well-realized.
1 Tony Stark’s Armor
Iron Man (2008)
The very first film in the MCU’s movie timeline actually boasts some of the franchise’s best-aged effects. Iron Man’s suit was created using a mixture of practical effects and CGI, and the result still looks outstanding by today’s standards. There are many scenes in which Stark’s armor is rendered in CGI, namely in the moments in which he suits up or takes to the skies, and the effects in question still look absolutely amazing. The fact that Iron Man’s armor from his first MCU appearance has aged so well speaks directly to the importance of good CGI in some of the most classic Marvel movie moments.