Why Do Marvel Movies Look Kind Of Bad?

Even if there is growing fatigue when it comes to superhero movies, there's no doubt that movies from Marvel's Cinematic Universe are the best of the bunch. Heck, some Marvel movies are legitimately great films and even the not so good ones still have great actors playing fantastic characters. Basically, they're all very fun to watch. So why then, do Marvel movies look so blah, drab and just plain bad?

It's the colour grading. There's no pure black value in the Marvel universe and that turns a lot of scenes that should pop, like the epic fight sequence in Captain America: Civil War, into what Patrick (H) Willems calls, "a giant parking lot". And it's true. Looking back at Marvel movies through this video, you'll see how ugly and strangely bland they all are. There are some other reasons why this is (shooting on digital vs film, an Arri Alexa vs a Red Weapon 8K), but it essentially boils down to Marvel's black being more like a very dark grey. Having a darker black value in a shot makes all the other colours stand out more. Without a true black, you get bleh. And that's what we get in Marvel movies.

In the GIF above, the sequence in the bottom right has been colour corrected for a darker black while the sequence in the top left is the original footage seen in theatres.


    Is this the same guy that does 'every frame a painting'?

      Nevermind - I'm just insensitive to the different tones and couldn't tell the difference before i compared them.

    I just figured having bright colours that pop looks cheesy.

    Like how modern supermans had the colours darkened or faded compared to the comics and earlier films

    They did it to make the characters and important things stand out more, like what they did for the first Fast/Furious film's cars.

    The guy in the video says it himself: "muted and closer to reality". Isn't that the look that they are going for with the MCU?

    Even if there is growing fatigue when it comes to superhero movies, there's no doubt that movies from Marvel's Cinematic Universe are the best of the bunch.

    That's funny - for me it's the MCU that's contributing the most to my superhero fatigue. And now that I've watched this essay I'm beginning to understand why.

    "My subjective opinion on colour balance is why everyone else is wrong!"

    Honestly you can critique stylistic choices if you want but there's no right or wrong way to do things.

    Better than all those orange and blue action films that were the rage for a while if I'm being honest.

    It's like those videos of the Snyder films, you pop on a contrast curve and bump the vibrancy and imho it looks much brighter and nicer.

    But that's the opposite of what they're trying to do, whether that's right or wrong. Plus if you get too bright and clean it often ends up looking like Tv, think Agents of Shield or The Flash.

      Oh christ that orange/blue hue period was the goddamn worst. Thank christ it's over.

      But I do think he's onto something with the Marvel movies, I believe Dr Strange actually stepped away from it too, hence why it actually looked glaringly different. Rich, deep colours, bright flashes etc, deep blacks on screen, it was quite the visual sight. I wish I enjoyed the movie itself more, but the visuals themselves were utterly superb.

        Hah, remember the first few years after the first Matrix movie? Every goddamn movie had that green hue on undercontrasted blacks.

        Visuals were my favourite part of Dr Strange, I haven't paid that close attention but felt most of the films other than Iron Man and Cap films went for a slightly more contrasted look.

        That said I wasn't able to watch the video so I'm more pointing out the issues I had with the conclusions in this article :-P

          You really need to. The article doesnt do a good job conveying it but the video shows it clearly. Its a fact Marvel movies are washed out in that sense. Theyre no "Man of Steel", but theyre washed out none the less. Part of why Wonderwoman looks so good, the colour palette just *pops*.

            I'll try look when I get home later today though honestly I believed the assertion they were, I just think whether that look is "bad" or not is a subjective rather than objective critique.

            Also I need to rewatch the Wonder Woman trailer, I felt it had a lot of brown which hinted at that sepia period kind of feel but the strong contrast and a bit of vibrancy made it look unique. I wasn't sold but wanted to see more.

              The warzones have a lot of brown (they should) but Themyscria itself is gorgeous with its colouring. Place it next to MoS and to a lesser extent BvS and even lesser extent SS and its like night and day.

    "Making it pop" what the fuck does that even mean. The colour grading in these movies is perfectly fine, not every movie has to have saturation and contrast turned up to 11, with an orange cast over the top. Consistency is what they have gone for, not nausea inducing acid trips.

    Last edited 29/11/16 8:24 am

    I really don't agree with this colour grading assessment of Marvel movies - not every frame needs pure blacks in them. That's a real rookie mistake to maximise the contrast in every shot - you can see this same problem in many ENB mods settings, where the colour is over saturated and it just kills the subtlety of the game. It is visually exhausting to be looking at 'comic book saturation' for an entire movie in my opinion. The people who make these films are professionals, and it's their intention to make the films looks more realistic and grounded. Assuming they're just lazy or didn't even realise colour grading is important is kind of insulting.

    02:05 - Goes on about colours being flat (looks fine) then pans to Pacific Rim which is over saturated with heavy blue hues (gross), I lolled.
    03:38 - The image has a huge vomit yellow hue to it, gross. I agree it could be punched up but he's done it digustingly.
    04:16 - You've just spent 4 minutes telling us how important colour grading is, then you offshoot by asking if it's the cameras fault... obviously not....
    04:30 - That scene in skyfall is a borderline bad instagram filter, it's stylized grading but not neccessarily "what other movies should aspire to look like"
    05:57 - He's pumped cause new GOTG is using a new RED camera instead of the Alexa... but you just told us this didn't matter.....

    He's basically a one stop shop for telling a billion dollar franchise what they're doing wrong, ok.......

    The real question is "Why did Marvel CHOOSE to use this colour styling across a bunch of their films", not the smug insinuations that they don't know what they're doing and he does. I feel like he could've actually got the point across a lot easier, but just comes off as a douche.

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