Wired published a video today that details the creation of Colossus in the smash runaway hit Deadpool, and while it's short and fun and not really a nuts-and-bolts step-by-step, it does do a nice job of illuminating just how hard it is in the age of digital effects to really assign authorship of certain performances.
Andy Serkis has become our first real digital movie star, and there is no denying the part he plays in creating characters like Caesar in the new Apes movies or Gollum from Lord Of The Rings. But when you're talking about the final version of the character that we see onscreen, we have to acknowledge the huge role played by the digital artists who take these various elements and combine them into something that has to live and breathe if these films are going to work.
That's one of the things I love most about movies. They are magic tricks. When you consider the history of film, it's always about creating an illusion. It's about sewing together all these individual frames of film into something that convinces us, that fools us into feeling and caring and being excited and getting our hearts broken. We all know that there are stuntmen doing the dangerous work, and yet we continue to allow actors to get away with that ridiculous “I do all my own stunts” nonsense because that's the illusion that the movies sell us.
I liked Colossus in Deadpool, and I think there's something smart about making him feel like a real-life comic book illustration. We're entertain a phase of superhero movies right now where we're adhering more closely to the original costume designs than ever before, and I think that's because the mainstream is more and more accepting of comic book reality. Besides, when you see details like the moving eyes on Spider-Man's Captain America: Civil War suit, it sells the reality in a way that we've never seen movie adaptations attempt before. I think the more stylized these films are, the better. I don't want my comic book movies to look just like the real world. What's the point of that? I want to see a comic book brought to life, and that's how Colossus feels to me.
I'm curious to see if they have a deeper dive into the film's visual effects work on the Blu-ray release. Tim Miller's background makes me curious how he approached making the film for way less than a standard blockbuster price tag. People have been talking about the film's R-rating as a key part of its success, but what other filmmakers should really pay attention to is how Miller made a movie like Deadpool for a significantly reduced cost. Fox spent less than they've spent on any other X-Men movie, including the first one, and they have been printing money as a result. Maybe you don't have to spend $400 million to have a giant franchise hit. Maybe you can spend smarter and win bigger as a result.
Right now, Deadpool is still in theaters.