The Avengers Featurette Explores Building A Digital New York

Much of what Joss Whedon accomplished with The Avengers had previously been thought impossible. How could he possibly fit six very distinct and attention-grabbing superheroes into one feature film? How would he make the Hulk compelling when both Louis Leterrier and Ang Lee failed before him? How could he redeem dull sexpot Black Widow after her dreadful introduction in Iron Man 2? But most of all, how—oh how!—could he possibly live up to the expectations of not just his fans, but those of the expansive Marvel universe?

It's still dizzying that Whedon deftly did all of the above, making an action movie that not only thrilled audiences but also won over critics. Here at Cinema Blend, we couldn't get enough of The Avengers, and there were some in our crew that held out hope that this superhero ensemble drama would score the tenth Best Picture spot for the Academy Awards. Well, that didn't happen, but The Avengers, did wrangle a well-deserved nomination for Best Achievement in Visual Effects. And to show you why its effects team deserves it, Industrial Light & Magic has released a revealing behind-the-scenes video:

I've lived in New York City for the entirety of my adult life, and admittedly take a certain level of pride is recognizing my chosen home in movies, as well as smugly identifying fakes. Watching the carnage of The Avengers' third act unfold right outside Grand Central Station, I was well aware that those scenes would have been impossible to shoot in this area that is always traffic heavy. And yet…it looked so real!

The ILM FX team explains that capturing such shots in camera would have been impossible. For one, New York City has tricky rules for shutting down streets and blowing things up on them, and for another the city has an understandable limitation on how low aircrafts can cruise, making the desired aerial shots unattainable. So, the team shot seven miles of the city's streets, from street level to crane-high shots to give the FX artists all the source material they'd need. From over 250,000 images they built a base for the Avengers to battle on. Of course, this also included building Stark Tower in the midst of Manhattan.

Guys, the effects here are so incredible I'm having a Matrix moment where I'm doubting my own reality…

Learn more about The Avengers visual effects with our interview with Executive Producer Victoria Alonso and ILM Visual Effects Supervisor Jeff White and tune in Oscar night to see if the film can take home the gold.

Kristy Puchko

Staff writer at CinemaBlend.