For decades now, the magic of special effects has allowed viewers to travel to some unbelievable places and see some incredible things at the movies and on our television screens. Green screens, motion capture technology and other genius technological innovations allow directors to bring superheroes, mythical creatures and space battles to life in a way our grandparents couldn't have even imagined!
We don't typically realize or appreciate just how much work goes into creating some of the most iconic special effects, but these hilarious behind-the-scenes images change that completely (and make us applaud the actors in the pictures for being able to keep a straight face during their scenes). Be careful looking through these, because they may render you unable to watch your favorite films and shows the same way ever again!
15 Clash of the titans
Thor's fight with the Hulk in the first Avengers was definitely one of the film's highlights. Two of the most powerful characters in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe were finally meeting and trying to take each other down! The scene looked awesome on the big screen, but behind the scenes, Chris Hemsworth was actually just wrestling with a stuntman wearing a large plastic torso and some motion capture devices on his limbs. Even though the intense look on Thor's face makes it seem like this was still an epic fight, we seriously can't stop laughing at how utterly ridiculous it looks. We have to try to forget this so we can properly enjoy Thor and Hulk's highly-anticipated gladiator rematch in next month's Thor: Ragnarok!
14 It's a good thing Kristen never laughs!
Kristen Stewart is famous for her inability to express any positive emotions while acting, even when the script calls for her character to appear to be happy or in love. No matter what happens, Kristen always looks miserable or panicked. While her emotional failings make her the subject of a lot of criticism and hate online, this special effects GIF makes us think that her inability to laugh may have been why she was cast as Bella in Twilight. In the film series, it looked like Bella was petting her BFF Jacob while he was in his giant wolf form, but that was just movie magic—in reality, Kristen actually had to stroke Taylor Lautner's head. Most actresses wouldn't have been able to do this without laughing, but not Kristen!
13 Mother of Green Blobs on a Stick
Someone should probably let Missandei know that she's been messing up her BFFs list of titles for the past few seasons. She should actually be introducing Dany as "Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Green Blobs on a Stick!" That's right, every time you've seen her pet one of her beloved "children," Daenerys was actually stroking a gigantic green screen popsicle. We obviously knew Game of Thrones' dragons were fake, but we never would have guessed that they used something so ridiculous looking as a replacement behind the scenes! We definitely have to commend Emilia Clarke for looking like she really loves that blob.
12 Not the epic finale we remember
Most fans absolutely hated Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. We can't really blame them because come on, the whole movie built up to the big fight between the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight and it was cut short when Batman learned that both of their moms shared the same name. Really?! That being said, we have to at least give the film some credit for the epic final battle where Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman faced off against Doomsday. We were on the edge of our seats that entire scene, which makes us shocked to discover that all of the fire and explosions featured in it were fake. DC's Holy Trinity was merely standing in front of a plain old green screen the whole time.
11 Iron Men? More like laser tag buddies!
While we knew that Robert Downey Jr. wasn't really flying around or shooting lasers out of his hands in Marvel's Iron Man films, we always assumed that the suits he wore were real (albeit likely made of plastic or Styrofoam instead of metal). Nope, this image suggests that they're entirely motion capture special effects—when Iron Man and War Machine are in costume, Robert and Don Cheadle are actually just decked out in what basically looks like laser tag uniforms. In Iron Man 2, these two were getting ready to take down Whiplash and a number of evil HAMMER drones, but in the behind-the-scenes picture... they look like they're gearing up to shoot some plastic guns at a bunch of teenagers. Not quite as impressive.
10 Wait, you're not Rocket...
Everyone knows that Bradley Cooper is the voice of Rocket Raccoon in the Guardians of the Galaxy series, but did you know that he doesn't even need to step foot onto the set in any of the films?! Sean Gunn, best known as Kirk from Gilmore Girls, puts on a green spandex unitard to portray Rocket in each scene, giving the film's stars someone to look at and touch when they're supposed to be interacting with the furry space adventurer. We kind of feel bad for this dude—he's basically one of the main characters of a blockbuster film series, and doesn't get any credit for it. He does have a supporting role as a Ravager, though, so his face isn't totally absent from the franchise. We also feel kind of bad for Dave Bautista... they were able to use special effects to create Rocket, but they couldn't just digitally add Drax's tattoos or skin color? Applying all that makeup had to take hours!
9 The King of Motion Capture
Andy Serkis is basically the king of motion capture. Fifteen years ago, he used the technology to bring Gollum to life in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers—believe it or not, it wasn't computer generated imagery that allowed Gollum to creepily crawl around Middle Earth... that was all Andy! Since then, his unmatched ability to move his body in some bizarre and animalistic ways has landed him a number of other motion capture roles, including Kong in the King Kong remake and lead ape Caesar in the new Planet of the Apes franchise. This picture of Andy getting ready to perform as Gollum is equal parts hilarious and amazing, because even though he appears to be a regular dude in a blue spandex one-piece... we can totally see Smeagol when we look at him.
8 Raised by wolf puppets
Neel Sethi, the 12-year-old actor who played Mowgli in Disney's live-action Jungle Book, seriously deserves an Oscar. The special effects in the film made it look like he was interacting with a wide variety of animals, from wolves and bears to gigantic orangutans and blood-thirsty lions, in the middle of a beautiful jungle... but it turns out, he was actually just acting alongside some adults holding up plastic animal heads in front of a plain blue screen! We're sure it can't be easy to pretend to have a genuine emotional connection with cartoon masks (especially since his "scene partner," the woman holding the wolf head in this picture, isn't even bothering to hide her extreme boredom) in such a small set, but Neel pulled it off brilliantly.
7 Our favorite movie moment ever, ruined
Titanic is and likely always will be one of our absolute favorite films, and the scene where Jack held Rose at the very tip of the legendary ship to allow her to feel like she was flying has to be one of the most iconic movie moments of all time. Unfortunately, now that we've seen what the scene actually looked like for the actors and crew, we'll never be able to watch it the same way again. Leo and Kate weren't really on a romantic ship staring out at an open ocean... they were just standing on a tiny ledge in front of a green screen. This almost makes us as upset as we get every time Rose refuses to simply share the giant wooden door so she and Jack could both make it out of the shipwreck alive. Almost.
6 Creating Pandora
Avatar was widely praised for being a visual masterpiece, and that's a big part of why it became the highest-grossing movie in history just 41 days after its release. The film's writer and director James Cameron had to wait nearly a decade for technology to catch up to his vision for the film, but his patience definitely paid off because the 3-D world of Pandora was absolutely breathtaking! This special effects picture gives us an insid look at how Cameron created the Na'vi—he equipped the film's actors (not just body doubles like most films) with motion capture devices so they could truly turn into residents of Pandora. We thought the blue, alien Na'vi looked weird when we first saw the film, but Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana might look even more bizarre with those motion capture dots all over their faces!
5 This is sort of creepy...
Even though we don't really believe in magic, the Harry Potter films always made us check our mailboxes in the hopes of finding an acceptance letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Now that we know what really goes on behind the scenes there, however, we're fine attending our boring Muggle schools instead! This picture reveals that when Hermione walked through the library magically making the books she desired fly into her hands in one of the films, green hands were actually coming out of the walls and handing them to her. Levitation is totally cool by us, but freaky green hands popping out of bookshelves... not so much. That's the sort of thing we'd typically find in our nightmares, not our dream school!
4 Tiny AT-AT
People absolutely freaked out over the original Star Wars trilogy when it hit theaters three decades ago, because some of the special effects featured in the films had never been seen before. Technology these days allows the new Star Wars films to include all sorts of CGI characters and intense battle scenes that would have been impossible back then, but it's still incredible how real everything looked in the OG films considering how little they had to work with! This SFX image reveals that the massive AT-AT featured in one of the early movies was actually incredibly small and operated by a man inside of a hidden trapdoor. That seems much more difficult than simply generating the futuristic vehicle on a computer like they do nowadays!
3 Tale as old as time
The most important and beautiful scene in Beauty & the Beast definitely has to be the one where Belle and the Beast dance in the gigantic ballroom for the very first time. Instead of being afraid to touch her monstrous and often-angry captor, Belle learns to understand and fall for him with every step. Emma Watson did such a great job expressing these complex emotions in the live-action film that we never would have guessed that she was also holding back laughter regarding the ridiculous appearance of her dancing partner. It has to be hard waltzing with a gigantic furry creature, but it has to be even harder waltzing with a guy in a chunky gray motion capture onesie and some bouncy stilt shoes!
2 The Flying Dutchman's crew
Davy Jones and the rest of his Flying Dutchman crew in the Pirates of the Caribbean films looked absolutely terrifying on the big screen, but behind the scenes, they looked like Rita Repulsa's goofy Putty Patrollers from the '90s Power Rangers TV show! Bill Nighy (who played the lobster-clawed villainous captain of the ship in the films) wore a tiny bit of make-up to look slightly more intimidating and stand out from the rest of his crew, but other than that, they were all just in bland gray outfits with motion capture squares all over their body. Their mutant bodies and their costumes were all computer generated! The fact that technology can turn such ridiculous-looking actors into fearsome and realistic monsters will never stop blowing our minds.
1 He is Groot?!
Okay, obviously we knew that James Gunn wasn't able to find a walking, talking tree to portray Groot in Guradians of the Galaxy... but never in a million years would we have guessed that this was how he brought the fan-favorite alien plant to life! A man in a spandex blue suit walked around set with a Groot head on top of his own so the actors in the film could have someone to interact with and an eyeline to focus on when talking to Groot. He looks absolutely hilarious, and we're impressed that people were able to look at "Groot" without cracking up at least once. Now we're super curious to find out what they did for Baby Groot... did they hire a baby to crawl around the set wearing a mask?!