The Hulk has come so far from the earliest days, when television producers slapped green makeup on actor Lou Ferrigno and asked him to run around in pre-shredded shirts and shorts. And every time the green giant returns to the screen, his look improves. The latest incarnation, which will be seen in Joss Whedon’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron, promises to be the most intricate, personable version of The Incredible Hulk that we have ever seen… and we have Muse to thank.
What is Muse? It is an innovative new motion-capture performance system invented by ILM that apparently is being used to perfect the capture of Mark Ruffalo as he works on Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. IGN learned about the system while attending the launch of the new ILM studio facility in London, where work is being done on Marvel’s latest, on Star Wars: Episode VII, and on Warcraft. In an interview, ILM President Lynwen Brennan spoke about Muse, and the need for an updated approach to performance capture. She said:
Getting that personality is very important to Joss [Whedon], and it’s very important that it’s driven by Mark [Ruffalo]’s performance. We’ve developed a new capture system, which we call Muse, which really captures the actor’s performance - it allows us to combine different takes as well. We’re using it on Warcraft, and we furthered the development on Avengers.
Age of Ultron isn’t the first movie to rely on Muse as a new type of facial capture. Paramount’s recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles also used Muse when bringing the karate-chopping heroes to the big screen.
And as I pointed out, the tech used to bring Hulk to the big screen has evolved drastically, even since Ang Lee tried to do it in 2003. At the time, Lee’s Hulk still maintained a great deal of star Eric Bana’s facial reactions. The technology shifted even more when Louis Leterrier brought Edward Norton in to play Hulk. And by the time we got to Mark Ruffalo in the first Avengers movie, we thought we’d reached the top of the mountain.
There has been a lot of conversation about how important the Hulk will be to Joss Whedon’s next Avengers movie – and Marvel’s long-term future. Thanks to ILM, and Muse, it sounds like Hulk is going to look as realistic, and as terrifying, as possible.