This Spider-Man: Far From Home VFX Reel Cheekily Breaks the 4th Wall

What are you lookin’ at?
Image: ImageWorks

VFX reels are, usually, pretty perfunctory. After all, they’re not just for us fans to admire some of the behind-the-scenes details, they are, well, reels. They’re industry samples of the work a studio did on a film or show, something to use to pitch an FX house’s work on future projects. So they show the work, albeit fancily. But this one is a little different.


ImageWorks’ FX reel for Spider-Man: Far From Home—or specifically its recreation of London and the elemental/drone attack on the UK capital in the film’s third act—starts out like plenty of other VFX reels. You get to see complete shots before each layer is peeled back so you can see how plate shots got blue-or-green-screened actors layered over them, or you rewind to see a wireframe and a smoke effect gracefully fade in on a 3D model.

This obviously isn’t how FX actually come together, but it’s a slick and fancy way to show off the hours and hours (and hours) of detailed work that goes into making these moments. They should show off how they did it! But about half way through, ImageWorks’ reel does something I don’t think I’ve ever seen a VFX reel do before: it stops for a moment to have a little joke at itself.

Mid-pan through ImageWork’s creation of Spider-Man swinging through a sea of drones over the Tower Bridge, Spidey himself stops being a 3D effect frozen in time so we can admire the painstaking detail put into digitally recreating the black-and-red supersuit Tom Holland wears in Far From Home. Suddenly, he starts tilting his head around. He looks at the camera. He even says it’s awesome and starts checking himself out!

It’s a bit of goofy, metatextual fun. And, in a sea of lavish yet similar VFX reels, makes this one stand out.


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James is a News Editor at io9, where you can find him delivering your morning spoilers, writing about superheroes, and having many feelings about Star Wars. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!


Ok, look... These digital effects look great. At this stage in the game, it’s actually more shocking when they don’t (looking at you, Black Panther). While I absolutely don’t want to take anything away from the hard work that goes into these shots (I’ve dabbled in 3D rendering and know how tricky it is to get even a simple object to look photo-real), I really miss the days of physical model building.

As great as the destruction scenes in London looked, my brain still had this uncanny valley thing (for lack of a better way to put it) going on the entire time. Versus, say, the destruction in Independence Day, which even though I know I’m looking at “just” models of buildings, my brain is convinced is totally real even to this day — because in some way, it is.