For a minute there, I thought that maybe Marvel had got a hold of Doc Brown to borrow his Flux Capacitor. And if you haven’t watched Captain America: Civil War yet, you may want to see if you can get a hold of one to read this article. In other words: spoilers lie ahead.
Remember in Ant-Man when a flashback to 1989 had Hank Pym confront Howard Stark and Peggy Carter? While modern day Pym was played by Michael Douglas, it would have been easy to cast someone else to play a younger version of the aged actor. But about 15 movies in, you should know that Marvel doesn’t take the easy way out.
Just like with Douglas and Pym, Captain America: Civil War used a younger version of Robert Downey Jr, to play a younger version of Tony Stark – and they didn’t need a Flux Capacitor or a Delorean to do so.
Back in July of 2015, Vulture.com spoke with Trent Claus of Lola VFX, who had a history of “de-aging” Marvel stars. He told them that they did the same with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in X-Men 3: The Last Stand, and made turned Chris Evans into the 98-pound Steve Rogers, pre-Super Soldier Serum.
This time, The Hollywood Reporter got a hold of Claus to explain the process over again. With Douglas, they went back to his 1987 film, Wall Street. And with Downey, they went to a film from the same year, Less Than Zero.
“Instead of completely replacing the actor with a digital double, this method allowed us to retain the actor’s performance and nuances,” said Claus. “Then we began to adjust the on-set footage of Tony Stark through digital compositing…..It is a similar process to Photoshop that uses some similar tools, but unlike Photoshop which is done on a single image, we have 24 frames per second of footage. Every feature of the face and body needed to be addressed in some fashion……One thing that happens to all of us is that the skin of the face gradually lowers in certain areas, and needs to be ‘lifted’ back to where it was at the age in question. But other changes are incredibly subtle, such as increase in the way light reflects off the sheen of the skin, a reduction in the appearance of tiny blood vessels under the surface of some parts of the face, or more blood flow in the cheeks giving them that familiar youthful ‘glow.’”
It’s interesting to note, that both scenes in Ant-Man and Civil War include John Slattery as Howard Stark. The 55-year-old actor first played Shell-head’s dad in Iron Man 2. While this movie magic has allowed Pym and Tony Stark to be played by the same actor throughout, Slattery and Dominic Cooper have tag-teamed their role throughout the character’s history in the MCU.
Sources: The Hollywood Reporter