At long last the VFX workers have unionized. After countless horror stories regarding the abysmal conditions and long long hours artists were pressured to work, it seems that enough is finally enough. Marvel VFX artists unanimously voted to unionize with IATSE, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. The news was shared by the official Twitter account for IATSE.
Obviously, this is great for the workers at Marvel, and most are happy to hear the news. However, some are worried about what this could mean for the studio’s future releases.
Marvel’s past with VFX workers
Like it or not, the truth is, there’s no way Marvel could carry on the way it was going. The way films were made was just plain wrong. Scripts were often rushed and there are multiple examples of higher-ups at the studio changing things last minute, be it with the script, the setting, or the characters. Of course, when crunch time came, it was often on the VFX artists to work with what little they had based on the script.
An exposé by the New Yorker showed just how overly reliant the studio had become on CGI. Speaking with a few anonymous VFX workers, the article details Marvel’s attitude towards its artists, often contracting the lowest-priced firm to do the work. This has led to underpaid and understaffed teams working to meet the immovable deadlines and it’s all made worse by higher-ups constantly changing their minds or opting to use CGI when none was needed to save time (and probably a bit of money.)
One such example is the white Avengers outfits from Endgame which were in fact motion capture suits worn by the cast. What we see in the film was added in post-production, presumably because someone who doesn’t understand the work that goes into VFX at Marvel couldn’t decide on a look in time for the costume department to make it.
What will this mean for VFX workers?
It will obviously mean no more underpaid workers as firms won’t be able to just continually undercut each other in order to win big Marvel contracts. This will also mean better conditions for workers including healthcare and safe working environments. All in all, it’s a much better deal for the kind of important work they’re doing and there’s no doubt that this is a good thing.
What does this mean for the movies?
With more time and money given to the VFX artists, it’s safe to assume that the quality of films will go up. Let’s be honest, there have been some pretty dodgy effects in Marvel movies as of late. I’m all for some campy/schlocky movies, but we’re talking about a film franchise that’s grossed almost 30 billion dollars. I’m sorry, but Doctor Strange’s third eye, Axl’s floating head in Thor: Love and Thunder, or M.O.D.O.K from Ant-man and the Wasp: Quantumania don’t really look like they should be appearing in the MCU.
Of course, Marvel could want to save itself a few bucks in other ways, so it might cut down on its CGI. This would probably mean cutting the CGI suits in place of physical ones, and, the idea I’m most excited about: the return of physical helmets, no more of this nanotech rubbish please — go back to the old school costumes, thanks.
Other things we should prepare for might be longer waits between Marvel projects. But hey, I’m more of a quality over quantity kind of guy and I’m sure most people will agree with me. Lots of Marvel movies are great, but when most of them in recent years have been disappointing, it kind of ruins the excitement for future MCU movies. With the VFX workers being unionized, it means that there will no longer be those notorious last-minute changes from the higher-ups. Things will have to be decided and a script actually written before work begins on the CGI, meaning that the production process should be much less chaotic in the future.
This can only be a good thing overall, as fans pointed out that it’s a win-win with more talent being drawn in by the better wages and higher quality movies coming out for the average viewer.
The workers will get better conditions and we’ll get less dodgy cgi effects, a win-win
Most were just happy to hear about the new union.
Holy s*** we might actually get to see decent VFX in my lifetime what
Outstanding news! Congratulations to my Marvel VFX friends and all Marvel VFX
Of course, the most important thing now is that we can all go and watch the next MCU film with a clear conscience knowing that those who worked on it were paid properly for their work.