Avengers: Infinity War parts one and two, the next installments in Marvel’s ridiculously huge Avengers franchise, are already likely to be some of the biggest films ever. But now they’re going to become even bigger—literally.
According to Variety, they will be the first movies ever to be shot completely with IMAX cameras. IMAX cameras can shoot images with three times the resolution than those of standard cameras, thus creating some truly beautiful cinematography that other technology simply can’t replicate. But they’re big, noisy, and take a long time to restock, so it hasn’t been practical to shoot an entire two-hour film with them.
Until now. IMAX and Arri, another film equipment company, have developed a new 2D digital IMAX camera that’s much lighter and easier to use than previous models. Joe and Anthony Russo, who are directing Infinity War, will shoot 15 minutes of 2016’s Captain America: Civil War on the new camera—a test, of sorts—before filming all of the next two Avengers movies on them.
IMAX cameras have been used many times in the past—most notably by IMAX champion and film traditionalist Christopher Nolan—but only to shoot certain sequences, and never a full movie. Nolan’s Interstellar broke the record for IMAX film time last year, when he shot an hour of the finished movie on the hulking cameras. Here’s a taste of what IMAX can do, from a scene in Interstellar (obviously, spoilers ahead):
On its face, the Marvel putting its faith in the high image quality of IMAX looks like a huge win for movie nerds. But, like the other Marvel films, Infinity War will be converted post-production to 3D, a technology that many purists argue is distracting and detracts from the beauty of IMAX images. But that is the reality of movies nowadays, especially summer blockbusters like the Avengers movies. It’s all 3D, all the time.
Age of Ultron, the second Avengers movie, released last week, was not shot with IMAX cameras. Like many other Marvel films, it was later converted to be shown in IMAX theaters. Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens, which comes out in December, was partially shot with IMAX cameras. Like Nolan, director J.J. Abrams is a bit of a film purist, and he shot the movie on film, instead of in digital.
Digital vs. film aside, it’s a good thing for filmmaking that the Russos will shoot Infinity War on IMAX cameras, and speaks to the growing proliferation of the once-sparse technology. More IMAX is a good thing, whether it’s digital IMAX or film IMAX.