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The Wakanda Forever VFX Team Offers A Deeper Look Into The Movie's Stunning Underwater Scenes

Somehow, Marvel Studios managed to blow everyone's expectations out of the water with their latest hit, "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever." Not only did the studio task the highly-anticipated sequel with closing out the MCU's Phase 4, but it also had to honor the legacy of the late Chadwick Boseman. To say the movie accomplished both goals would be an understatement, as there wasn't a dry eye in any theater.

The introduction of fan-favorite comic book anti-hero Namor, played by the excellent Tenoch Huerta, brought another difficult task to "Wakanda Forever." The problems that come with any water-based characters stem from maintaining clarity underwater while still making the scenes believable to the audience. A filmmaker could go the "Justice League" route, using CGI to create the illusion of being underwater, with characters creating air bubbles to talk (via IndieWire), but that seems like a bit of a cop-out. A director could also choose to go the route of "Avatar: The Way of Water," which required the cast to shoot complete scenes underwater.

In "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," the production team found a balance between CGI and actually filming actors underwater, and the results were beautiful.

Wakanda Forever mixed CGI with practical effects

Speaking to Wētā FX's Chris White, who supervised the team that oversaw visual effects on "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," ScreenRant got more information on how the team accomplished the movie's impressive underwater scenes. It turns out a lot — and we mean a lot — of work went into perfecting how everything looked underwater, including the actors themselves. White told ScreenRant that the end result was a product of balancing CGI with practical effects. "There's a balance to be found," he said. "A lot of stuff we shot in the tank as well; the mining mission was CG, but we shot it in the tank as a great reference, using the actual suits. There is a balance to strike, because when they're in these domes, refraction means their heads look really small. We had to do special tools to kind of un-refract that, find the balance how Shuri's head could look as though it was underwater without losing the expressions in her face."

Since production called for actors to be physically underwater, another issue was ensuring that skin tones translated when they were submerged. Light works differently underwater, especially red light, which lends itself to humans' skin tones. To make sure everyone looked realistic, the VFX team made it a priority to develop the necessary tools to accomplish that goal. They studied how melanin affects how people look underwater and used digital renderings of the actors as a reference to remain accurate.

The VFX team members weren't the only ones working hard to perfect the underwater scenes. According to Variety, many of the cast, even director Ryan Coogler, learned how to swim in order to make "Wakanda Forever" the best movie possible.