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10 worst CGI in superhero movies

Computer-generated imagery can make or break a movie, and superhero movies are especially reliant on such effects. VFX artists pour all their sweat and tears into bringing comic book heroes and villains to life, and they don’t always get the recognition they deserve.

However, when these artists don’t have the right tech or are put under strict deadlines, the resulting CGI can be so awful that people on the internet will never let it go. While not everything in a film can be 100% perfect, there have been a handful of superhero movies with scenes or characters that could have used some more time in postproduction.

10. Axl’s floating head (Thor: Love and Thunder)

Axl's floating head in "Thor: Love and Thunder."
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Director Taika Waititi’s second Thor film has become a punching bag for disgruntled fans since its 2022 release. One thing they seemed to have the most ire for is the way young Axl appeared as a floating head while magically talking to Thor.

Axl clearly looks like he was cut and pasted onto the screen, and when Marvel Studios tried to touch up the effect for the Disney+ release, it somehow made it look even worse. This is one of the many instances in the MCU that proves the studio should ease up on its VFX artists and, perhaps, CGI in general.

9. Blade’s fight  with Deacon Frost (1998’s Blade)

Deacon Frost with a bloody hand in "Blade" (1998).
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This cult classic reaches its climax when everyone’s favorite daywalker duels the evil Deacon Frost to the death. But since the latter has gained the powers of La Magra, he possesses an extraordinary healing factor that allows him to regenerate limbs instantly. Even after Blade slices Deacon’s torso in half, the evil vampire uses his blood powers to glue himself back together.

Frost could have been made more intimidating if the blood effects didn’t look like something from an old Nintendo 64 game. This CGI is forgivable since the movie was made in the ’90s, when such effects were still in their infancy. But looking back at Blade now, the filmmakers should have gone more practical when depicting Frost’s powers.

8. Spawn’s impossibly flowy red cape (Spawn)

Spawn landing in a ballroom in "Spawn."
Image used with permission by copyright holder

CGI has often been used to create the capes many heroes and villains wear in comic book movies, and since Spawn’s cape was an integral part of his character, it makes sense thay the makers behind his 1997 film wanted to show off its true visual capabilities. Though Spawn’s costume is supposed to be a living “necroplasm” akin to the Venom symbiote, his signature cape looks nothing like real fabric nor a magical substance.

The way this animated cloak looks and moves has no shred of believability, and the chains attached to his costume don’t look any better either. The cape is especially unconvincing when it’s waving around a crowd of actual people. With CGI what it was back when the movie was made, it would have been best to have kept this living cape in digital hell.

7. T’Challa’s climactic battle with Killmonger (Black Panther)

Black Panther battling Killmonger in "Black Panther."
Image used with permission by copyright holder

While Black Panther is arguably one of the greatest superhero movies of all time, the climactic battle between T’Challa and Killmonger somewhat puts a damper on the film’s illustrious legacy. It is clear that one portion of the fight is completely computer-generated, and the way T’Challa spins around a beam hars back to another unrealistic shot from the 2000 film X-Men.

Likewise, the incomplete effects become more apparent when both fighters’ bodies are contrasted with their dissolving vibranium suits. For a blockbuster movie released in 2018, the visual effects for such an important scene should have been given more time for development.

6. Everything about Incubus (Suicide Squad)

Incubus in "Suicide Squad."
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This glowing giant is the unholy result of Enchantress’s brother possessing a man and absorbing innocent bystanders. But it’s also unholy because he doesn’t even look like a real-life creature. His luminous skin only highlights his unfinished and unintimidating design.

And when he hurls his tendrils at the Suicide Squad, they look far less realistic in comparison to his non-digital adversaries. The upside here is that Incubus is such a bland antagonist, most audiences will likely forget this VFX disaster was even in the film.

5. Steppenwolf’s porcupine armor (Justice League)

Steppenwolf in "Justice League" (2017).
Image used with permission by copyright holder

When director Joss Whedon took over the production of Justice League, he oversaw a near-complete overhaul of the film’s visual effects, including a complete recreation of the villain Steppenwolf. Not only does this design look bland and unimposing, but the movie’s rushed production also left Steppenwolf looking nothing like a believable alien conqueror.

His armor doesn’t even match the designs of his Parademons or Cyborg, who is outfitted with technology from his home world, making him stick out like a sore thumb. This Steppenwolf looks especially egregious compared to the more realistic and intimidating version of him in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, which has made audiences thankful they got to see the New God as initially intended.

4. Any time Catwoman moves (Catwoman)

Catwoman cocks her head to the side in Catwoman
Warner Bros.

Catwoman has been ripped to shreds over the years for its bad acting, ridiculous storyline, and for having almost no connection to her comic book source material. But one of this movie’s most egregious aspects is how the feline hero is shown jumping and climbing around in such an unbelievable manner. The digital figure standing in for Halle Berry is obviously fake, as it lacks any realism in how it moves and jumps through the air. Even though this film was directed by someone who was once a VFX supervisor, the audience wouldn’t know it based on the awful job done with what is supposed to be an iconic character.

3. The CG Green Lantern suit (2011’s Green Lantern)

Warner Bros. Pictures

In this infamous comic book film, Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern suit is supposed to be made of his Power Ring’s energy. This idea is great in theory, but it flopped in its execution. Ryan Reynolds’s bright-green suit doesn’t blend well with his actual body, and it looks even worse when he has a mask brushed onto his face.

And this is only one of many examples of unrealistic CGI used in what was supposed to be a blockbuster hit. But the suit has since become a frequent punch line, with Reynolds continuing to joke about it years later. He even squeezed in a crack about it in Deadpool.

2. Wolverine’s fake-looking claws (X-Men Origins: Wolverine)

Wolverine looking at his claws in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine."
Image used with permission by copyright holder

There were many things wrong with this X-Men prequel film, and one of the biggest problems was with Wolverine’s computer-generated claws. While actor Hugh Jackman was given prosthetic claws in his first three films in the X-Men franchise, the filmmakers behind his origin movie decided to go digital, giving him razors that are completely unreal — and not in a good way.

Much like a certain co-star’s Green Lantern suit, Wolverine’s claws don’t mesh well with his actual body, and it’s clear that these shiny blades were pasted onto his hands in postproduction.

1. Superman’s mouth (Justice League)

Superman in "Justice League" (2017).
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What can be said about Superman‘s mouth in this film that pretty much everyone hasn’t already said online? In order for Henry Cavill to keep his required mustache for Mission: Impossible – Fallout, the filmmakers behind Justice League‘s reshoots decided to erase it from his face digitally. However, what audiences ended up seeing was a blurred-out plastic mouth that ruined the film for audiences the minute it showed up in the opening scene.

What makes this bad CGI even more atrocious is just how unnecessary it is. If Cavill was supposed to have a mustache for another film, couldn’t he have just shaved it off and used a fake one instead? A $20 party mustache would’ve worked so much better than the $25 million disappointment audiences got in the final film.

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Anthony Orlando
Anthony Orlando is a writer/director from Oradell, NJ. He spent four years at Lafayette College, graduating CUM LAUDE with a…
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