The motion capture VFX that Marvel Studios uses to bring Thanos and other comic book characters to life are no match for the technologies employed for films in the Avatar franchise, according to director James Cameron, who recently sat down for an interview with ComicBook.com and suggested that Wētā FX (formerly Weta Digital), the visual effects company behind Avatar, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the upcoming Avatar sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, is the best in the industry.
“Obviously the big comic book films have been driving the sheer volume of the industry… the rising tide of technique raises everybody together,” Cameron said in a transcription shared by Variety. “It gives you higher quality artists, more tools and plug-ins and code [to use]. You’ve got more talented people writing code out there.”
“Our team at WETA Digital is constantly having new hires, and it’s coming out of that pool,” the director goes on to say. “So it improves everything. That said, WETA Effects, as it’s called now, is the best. Right? Industrial Light & Magic does great work, but when it comes to the kind of emotive facial stuff that we’re doing… Thanos? Come on. Give me a break. You saw [‘Avatar: The Way of Water’]. It’s not even close. It’s what WETA did.”
Variety pointed out in its coverage that this is not the first time that Cameron has been critical of Marvel movies, referencing an interview from October 25, 2022, in which the director suggested to the New York Times (alternate link) that Marvel and DC features are shallow.
“I also want to do the thing that other people aren’t doing,” Cameron said. “When I look at these big, spectacular films — 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 don’t. They never hang up their spurs because of their kids. The things that really ground us and give us power, love, and a purpose? Those characters don’t experience it, and I think that’s not the way to make movies.”
Avatar: The Way of Water opens in theaters nationwide on December 16.
A 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of 2009’s Avatar, which returned to theaters this past September in 4K HDR with Dolby Atmos sound, is reportedly set for release next year.
Avatar 5 is slated for release in 2028, according to Cameron’s iMDB page.