James Cameron Says ‘Avatar’ Motion Capture VFX Beats Marvel’s Thanos: ‘Give Me a Break… He’s Not Soon’

James Cameron told ComicBook.com in a recent video interview that when it comes to motion capture and building emotional faces out of VFX, Marvel villain Thanos doesn’t hold a candle to the Na’vi. Both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Cameron’s “Avatar” franchise use extensive motion capture technology so that actors in the real world can play beings from another world. Josh Brolin played Thanos, while the Avatar movie turned the likes of Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldaña into blue aliens.

Reporter Brandon Davis asked Cameron if any of the visual effects breakthroughs stemming from Marvel films and the comic book film world spurred him on to raise the bar, to which the director replied, “It’s clear that big comic book films have been driving the sheer volume of the industry…the tide Soaring Tech brings everyone together.It gives you higher quality artists and more tools, plugins and codes [to use]. You’ve got more talented people writing code out there.”

Cameron continued, “Our team at WETA Digital is constantly having new hires, and coming out of that pool.” So it improves everything. However, the effects of WETA, as it’s called now, are the best. Right? Industrial Light & Magic does a great job, but when it comes to the kind of facial emotion stuff we do… Thanos? C’mon. .Give me a break.See [‘Avatar: The Way of Water’]. It’s not even close. That’s what WETA did.”

Cameron is often critical of Marvel films, to the point where he began his ComicBook.com interview by declaring, “I just want to say early on that I’m not going to stop Marvel or the DC Universe.” Obviously, Cameron couldn’t help himself. In an interview with The New York Times in October, the director went viral for saying he wanted to bring a level of stakes and character maturity to “Avatar: The Way of Water” that the Marvel Cinematic Universe lacks.

“Zoe and Sam are playing parents, 15 years later,” said Cameron. In the first movie, Sam’s character jumps off his flying creature and essentially changes the course of history as a result of this insane, almost suicidal belief. And Zoe’s character jumps off a limb and assumes there’s going to be some nice big leaf that can cushion her fall. A parent, you don’t think that way. For me, as a parent of five, I say, “What happens when those characters mature and realize they have a responsibility outside of their own survival?”

Cameron continued, “When I look at these big, amazing movies — I’m looking at you, Marvel and DC — it doesn’t matter how old the characters are, they all act like they’re in college. They have relationships, but they really aren’t. They never shut down their spurs because of their kids.” The things that really ground us and give us strength and love and purpose? Those characters don’t experience it, and I think that’s not how movies are made.”

“Avatar: The Way of Water” opened in theaters nationwide on December 16th.


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