Why Do All Marvel Studios Movies Look Kind of Ugly?

Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel Studios, The Avengers, Doctor Strange, Cris Velasco

Why Do All Marvel Studios Movies Look Kind of Ugly?

Marvel Studios is the current champion of the box office. They release hit after hit. The way they have been able to create a cinematic universe over 14 films has never been done before.

With that said Marvel Studios has been criticized about the lackluster film music in their film (watch the video discussing “Why is Music from the Marvel Cinematic Universe So Forgettable?” here) and now Patrick Willems bring down the pain on how “ugly” the films are.

I’ve been a colorist for over 15 years now and I completely understand the criticism. Marvel Studios has a formula that they follow and dull color grading seems to be in that formula.

Despite  ALL the negative reviews, both DC Comic films Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad were praised for their excellent cinematography, but that’s not something you never hear about Marvel Studios movies. In the video below they go deep into color grading used in Marvel films. This video created a compelling argument about why Marvel Studios made a big mistake by jumping from film to digital.

The color grading doesn’t seem to be hurting Doctor Stange at the box office. What do you think?

Featuring footage from:

  • Side by Side
  • Iron Man
  • Iron Man 2
  • Iron Man 3
  • Thor
  • Thor: The Dark World
  • The Avengers
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Captain America: Th First Avenger
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Ant-Man
  • Doctor Strange
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Jupiter Ascending
  • Spotlight
  • Sicario

Consider donating to our Patreon for Patrick Willems who created this killer video essay: https://www.patreon.com/patrickhwillems


If you liked Why Do All Marvel Studios Movies Look Kind of Ugly? check out:
Why is Music from the Marvel Cinematic Universe So Forgettable?
Marvel Cinematic Universe, Music Score, Composers, Film Scores, Danny Elfman, John Williams, The Avengers, Doctor Strange, Cris Velasco


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  • It’s just another look variety. Good video though

  • jjsemp

    I think it might be that this flat color grading works best for 3D. It reduces the possibility of “ghosting” – i.e. a ghost of the left eye image ending up being seen by the right eye, and vice versa. Also, once you put on the 3D glasses, there is a reduction of light hitting the eyes, but with this flat color grading, the blacks go blacker without becoming too dark. (BTW, none of this prevents me from loving these films, which I think are great. I think people complain too much about trivial things just to be heard and to make a name for themselves on social media.)

  • “Color grading was first used in 2000…” uhhhhhhhhhhh

  • Laurent Franchet

    This
    video claims that “color grading started in 2000”. That’s complete non
    sense. Grading has existed since the beginning of cinema. It was black
    and white grading for black and white movies and it became color grading
    as soon as color film appeared. The author of the video needs to go back to filmschool.

    • Landlordos7

      The article is referring to all-digital color grading, which was first done on O Brother Where Art Thou in 2000.

  • Jeremy Christopher

    I think artists are allowed to not add so much color grading to their image.

    Why does it look dirty, but non-artistic? It’s simple, IMO, the director wants to connect to a more realistic image, instead of an artistic one; it emphasizes a partial documentary feel, while promoting a neutral cold and sterile image, which also emphasizes the storytelling away from the comic book look.

    Many European films use this; it’s a trend away from over-stylized looks, like Michael Bay films, which were overdone and became too split-tone for a lot of directors. I find it a somewhat refreshing look, since it’s obviously color graded to get to that point; you may notice that this type of color correction is harder to achieve than a simple split-tone look and is more artistic because of it.