The television upfronts continue, and yesterday was Disney’s turn, which means some new wares to show off to everyone. Most notably, they released the first teaser for She-Hulk starring Tatiana Maslany. It looks cute. She’s a lawyer, she has thirty-something lady problems, and her cousin is Bruce Banner, and oh, she’s turning into a Hulk now, too. It actually does look really cute, the teaser is kind of giving “Ally McBeal in the MCU” vibes, combined with a little bit of internet-driven “step on my neck giant green mama” thirst-trapping. There are worse concepts. I do have a lot of questions about why, in the world of the MCU, they’re nearly twenty years out from “I am Iron Man” and they’ve only JUST now developed a legal framework for dealing with superheroes, but whatever. The world of the MCU is amazingly lackadaisical about their insane reality.
A big complaint online, though, is that the CG in this teaser looks dodgy. And it does, this is not baseless whining. Frankly, the CG in Moon Knight is rough in places, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has a couple straight up embarrassing CG shots I felt should have been excised for quality control. BUT. There’s a problem no one is really talking about regarding film and television production right now, and it has to do with the VFX pipeline. Like many things in the pandemic world, there’s a supply chain problem. No one wants to go on the record because VFX artists are historically overworked and underpaid and most operate on a contract basis, and loose lips sink ships. The people I’ve spoken to off the record have been uniformly worried if they start airing their grievances publicly, it could jeopardize their firms’ future opportunities. But there’s a VFX crunch.
There have been some high-profile delays recently, and not every instance is 100% tech related, but it’s also not a coincidence that everything being shuffled around are FX-heavy projects, and that they’re all moving back not up. Marvel has been staying on top of their pipeline—I cannot imagine how much Disney is laying out to keep Avatar 2 on track—but wonkier and wonkier CG shots are slipping into final releases. She-Hulk doesn’t come out till August 17, so there is still three months to polish these effects, but maybe don’t be surprised if the final look of the show isn’t much better than the shots look here. As for the crunch, I’m not sure what happens next. It’s a global industry, so organizing a strike or labor demonstration might be challenging, but it really feels like the current state of things can’t go on. There’s too much work and not enough money to pay people to do it properly (yet stars will continue making $10 million-plus per film). The situation is untenable.