The best thing about Marvel’s latest movie, Thor: Love and Thunder, is that writer-director Taika Waititi made the whole film be about the cosmic power and importance of love … and that the love he had at the time was Rita Ora. Ergo, Thor: Love and Thunder is a movie about the cosmic power and importance of Rita Ora. Conversely, one of the worst things about the movie is, as with so much Marvel output, the visuals. It’s a bad reputation for a franchise in a visual medium to have, particularly a franchise that is so reliant on visual effects and computer graphics, particularly particularly a franchise with massive budgets. But VFX artists who work on Marvel movies have been vocal about the grueling working conditions, unfair expectations, inadequate pay, and short deadlines placed upon them by the studio.
So it came across as a slap in the face when a clip from a Vanity Fair interview went viral on July 10, showing Waititi and Valkyrie actress Tessa Thompson poking fun at the editing and special effects in their own movie. In the clip, Waititi is doubled over laughing at a Thor: Love and Thunder freeze-frame of his CGI character, Korg, standing with Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Valkyrie, and the Mighty Thor (Natalie Portman). “Does this look real?” he asks, pointing at his character, who looks like he was ripped from an archival World of Warcraft commercial. (No, they agree, it doesn’t really.) Thompson also points out a small continuity error that Waititi seems to have missed entirely, laughing it off.
In the comments and quote-tweets, people are sharing memes of depressed, sleepless, soulless-looking people (the dad from Coraline, Willem Dafoe in The Card Counter, an off-brand Yoda, dark Mario) as “reaction shots” of the overworked, disrespected VFX artists watching the movie’s celebrity director mock the effects. Then, on July 10, software engineer Dhruv Govil had a viral tweet calling Marvel a “horrible client” that “pushed me to leave the VFX industry.” After the 2001-era video-game cutscene-looking trailer for Marvel’s She-Hulk was released, fans noted that VFX artists are expected to make edits on very little notice while working long hours. On the r/VFX subreddit, VFX pros who say they’ve worked with Marvel complain about their uniquely negative working conditions. Some tweets even suggest that this might be the thing that pushes Marvel’s VFX artists to unionize. We’re standing with Red Guardian on this one.