Marvel Studio's Head of Visual Development Ryan Meinerding Talks Evolution of Avenger’s Costumes in ‘Endgame’ and Phase Four

Avengers Endgame Visual Development

AVENGERS: ENDGAME encapsulates 11 years of the MCU, and brings to a close some of the Avenger's journey. The Marvel superheroes grew not only emotionally but their suits changed along with them. Marvel Studios' Head of Visual Development Ryan Meinerding's department was largely responsible for the look and feel of the Marvel Cinematic Universe throughout the last decade, and CineMovie chatted with him about how the suits mirrored the stories, and how their baseline was always the original comics.

Now that AVENGERS: ENDGAME is now available on Digital, and coming to 4K, Blu-ray and DVD August 13, fans can scrub through their favorite scene or character for a closer look. After reading what Ryan Meinerding had to say to CineMovie, fans may also want to look at the Avenger's suits for a much closer look at the details in their costumes as described in this interview.

We spoke to Ryan shortly after Marvel Studios' honcho Kevin Feige announced at Comic Con that ENDGAME had surpassed AVATAR as the highest grossing film in history.

CineMovie:
Congratulations on passing AVATAR as the highest grossing film ever. Are you very happy?


Ryan:
Oh, it’s great. It's exciting.


CineMovie:
Was there a party at Marvel Studios?


Ryan:
No party yet. I mean, we're still embroiled in all the next stuff, so we're all pretty busy going onto the next step. With Comic Con finishing up, there's not a whole lot of people around yet. So maybe once everybody gets back, we'll have a little bit of a celebration.


CineMovie:
You guys had a big weekend with all the announcements happening with phase four?


Ryan:
Yeah. It's incredible. It's an incredible time to be a Marvel.


CineMovie:
Yeah. It's not an end game for you, that's for sure.


Ryan:
Yeah! (Laughs) That's very true.


CineMovie:
You're the head of the Visual Development at Marvel so you pretty much created the look since day one, right?


Ryan:
I've been here since IRON MAN one. I got to design the mark 1 Iron Man suit and I've worked on leading about 15 of the movies. I've worked on, probably 18 of them altogether. So yeah. It's been a huge journey for me and I feel very fortunate to have been a part of it.


CineMovie:
What would you say you're the most proud of? A certain scene, effect or visual look?


Ryan:
I've been able to design all of Captain America's costumes through all of his entire cinematic journey and I am very proud of every incarnation and how the idea of having one of those suits be really relevant to the film that it's in and help tell the story of that movie and then moving forward into a new look that meant something different. And having that sort of arc of his character be representative in his different costumes is a very easy thing to be proud of. I'm very fortunate that the stories that they were choosing to tell were so compelling that creating visuals for them was a real joy.

Captain America The First Soldier 850

CineMovie:
Yeah. I liked that about Captain America. His suits evolved with his journey because he started as a boy scout, and then we saw him go through the whole spectrum of where he ended up.


Ryan:
Yeah. He started out with his first suit that he went on the propaganda tour with... he was symbol and was like reluctant to be symbol and then sort of shed the symbol and covered it up to be a soldier because that's what he was more interested in doing that. And then after he got back from the mission rescuing Bucky and Allied commandos, he realized that the idea of being a symbol and a soldier together is a useful thing. So when you have a character where almost anything that they're wearing or not wearing or what they're choosing to do becomes symbolic of something. It's a great storytelling mechanism, and a great visual storytelling mechanism.


CineMovie:
So I'm assuming you're also responsible for the CGI. I don't know if that's what you call the CGI costumes. The actors who wear the motion capture suits or pajamas as they like to call them.


Ryan:
So, yeah, we do work on the digital characters and the digital suits. The process is kind of the same for us. We're just trying to create the best, most iconic looking character based on something from the comics that works for the story world that the directors and producers are trying to create. Sometimes that means they get translated into a practical costume and sometimes it means a digital costume depending on the complexity of the suit. But yeah, it's all a fun journey trying to look into the comics and finding something that's relevant for the character in that story. Sort of resolving it and rendering it, designing it as much as we can to really hopefully bring it into something that feels like it belongs in the MCU but still really represents the character well.


CineMovie:
Because it's digital, can you change it in post? Is it pretty much set from the beginning or is there some iterations during post?


Ryan:
You know, honestly, I think there's always changes that have happen in post just because they have the ability to sort of dial it in and really make it the best that it can be. But I think we're very fortunate that at Marvel Studios that when they sign off on something in preproduction, for the most part, it stays close to that. As long as everyone feels like they've had a long enough journey in trying to figure out what the suit could be. There's a couple instances where things have changed dramatically in post. But yeah, I don't know how many characters we've put on screen, but that's down to sort of like 0.1% of the characters that changed dramatically. When they sign off on something. It pretty much stays true to that.


CineMovie:
As far as the extras on the home release, is there anything there that you can recommend or something that captures what your department does?

Avengers: Endgame Chris Evans

Ryan:
I'm not as familiar with what's going to be on the home release as I should be, but the one piece that I do know about is an exploration on the journey of Captain America through the MCU. And I'm excited to see that one because I think there's some great interviews in there, and I have a particular fondness for Cap so I'm excited to probably watch that and tear up a little bit.


CineMovie:
Yeah. He's my favorite too, both emotionally and the costume wise. I think he's had the most growth.


Ryan:
Awesome. Yeah, Chris [Evans] is so amazing. I keep on saying maybe I'm fortunate, I'm lucky, but I don't really have other words to describe it. Just the fact that he was able to portray the character so well over so many movies and it's an amazing thing that I hope people are excited by because I love it.


CineMovie:
And they revealed the new logos for phase four. Is your department involved in creating that look too because that pretty much defines the look of the movie as well. Right?


Ryan:
We are working on those projects. We didn't work on those logos. We are working pretty hard on trying to figure out the different looks for the projects coming up. I think all of the new directions we're going in are incredibly exciting and I can't wait to be able to show that stuff we've been working on.


CineMovie:
And for the last two films, Endgame and Infinity War, what was the biggest task you thought to yourself, 'Oh boy, we've got our work cut out for us.' What was the one thing that you thought was a big task that you had to tackle?

Avengers: Endgame time travel suits

Ryan:
That's a good question. I mean I think one of the challenges was the time suits or the team suits. Those were hugely important essentially. We're talking about visual storytelling, the idea that in Infinity War, the Avengers were fractured and broken up and the idea behind the team suits was essentially you're going to unify the team. They're going to do this together and the visual for this suit is going to represent that, and that means there's a lot of scrutiny and a lot of weight on those designs. Everybody has to look great. It has to actually hit that story point. And hopefully, you're also creating that heroic moment of them all walking together, going off into their mission and the sort of right stuff moment of feeling encouraged and inspired that they're going to be able to accomplish everything they need to. I mean that was probably one of the bigger challenges on our team's shoulders. The other one is maybe just the idea of ending character's storyline, the idea of having a final Iron Man suit and a final Captain America suit that feels like a culmination of their character's journey. And I kind of relied on going back to the character's classic looks from the comics to try and bring in some additional things that we hadn't really ever done with those characters. So with Iron Man, it was about trying to go back to his classic armor look and bring in sort of the gold shoulders and a little bit more like a feeling of anatomy to the suit. And for Cap, it was about bringing in the scale mail, which is a sort of a hallmark in the traditional comics too, that we've never put in the films. And then sort of as a cap to his journey, there's an ending to his journey that feels like he's not the boy scout anymore. He's got some rough edges and, you're seeing his true nature now. And that was sort of hinted at in Infinity War by seeing that the sort of fabric of his suit frayed and you could see into it. You could see some of the scale mail but it was always there, but it was never really exposed on the outside. And now the outer layer has been burned away and you can absolutely see who Cap is.

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