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The 5 Best Examples Of MCU Actor De-Aging (& The 5 Worst)

From depicting intricate intergalactic battles to showcasing non-humanoid characters such as Rocket Raccoon, the MCU movies are known for their use of CGI to convey seemingly impossible visuals. One of the most impressive uses of CGI in the franchise, however, is the de-aging process that is used on the actors in some of the movies.

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With the complicated timeline of the MCU, there are a lot of flashbacks. Instead of using new actors, the original stars can travel back in time with the magic of technology to portray their characters at a younger age. Of course, some of these instances are more convincing than others.

10 Best: Michael Douglas - Ant-Man (2015)

The first time this technology was used for a significant character in the MCU was with Hank Pym in Ant-Man. The movie took a rather bold step in testing out how this would work. The sequence in question is the first one of the movie, which could have been very distracting, and the actor is Michael Douglas, whose image in the late 1980s is well remembered.

Had this attempt failed as it had with Patrick Stewart in X-Men: The Last Stand, it might have been the last time it was used in the MCU. Fortunately, the image of a young Michael Douglas was convincing to audiences because it evoked memories of Douglas's past work in films like Wall Street and Fatal Attraction.

9 Worst: Robert Downey Jr. - Captain America: Civil War (2016)

When Tony Stark uses "B.A.R.F." technology for an experiment in Captain America: Civil War, it allows him to relive an old memory of the last time he saw his parents alive. This sequence shows a young Tony Stark in the early 1990s as a sarcastic and troublesome student.

Related: The 5 Best Examples Of Movie De-Aging (& The 5 Worst)

Making a middle-aged man into a fresh-faced youth is especially difficult and it is remarkable how well the movie recreates a young Robert Downey Jr. The only problem is that when he speaks, it sounds like a man in his 50s rather than a young student.

8 Best: Laurence Fishburne - Ant-Man And The Wasp (2018)

In Ant-Man and the Wasp, Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) is a former colleague of Hank Pym's before the two of them had a falling out. In a flashback, the audience gets an explanation for that estrangement by featuring a considerably younger Bill.

As seen with the teenaged Tony in Captain America: Civil War, the illusion this de-aging process creates is harder to maintain when the person is talking. It's fortunate for the filmmakers and the audience that young Bill appears only fleetingly and silently, making it more effective than young Tony Stark's dialogue-heavy cameo.

7 Worst: David Harbour - Black Widow (2021)

Sometimes, it is not so much about the quality of the de-aging effects than it is about if the CGI is necessary in the first place. The opening flashback sequence in Black Widow features two actors, David Harbour and Rachel Weisz, who appear to be de-aged yet the CGI doesn't have that same "wow" effect as other examples.

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In particular, Harbour, as the brutish Alexei Shostakov, doesn't appear to look drastically different in the 21 years between his first and last appearance in the movie. While he certainly looks younger in the flashback scene than he does later in the film, the CGI is so minimal that it barely has any real effect.

6 Best: Michelle Pfeiffer - Ant-Man And The Wasp (2018)

It seems like the Ant-Man movies are particularly interested in the de-aging technique as it has been used on a number of the characters. Though she didn't appear in the first film, Janet Pym is a big part of the story in the sequel. It's not surprising that Ant-Man and the Wasp begins with a flashback of a young Janet before she goes missing for decades in the Quantum Realm.

Like Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer is an actor whom audiences remember well from past films such as Dangerous Liaisons and Batman Returns. As a result, her de-aged visage is breathtaking because she looks exactly like how audiences remember her: beautiful and ethereal.

5 Worst: Rachel Weisz - Black Widow (2021)

Rachel Weisz is the other de-aged actor who appears in Black Widow's first sequence. Once again, it is not so much that it is an unconvincing job; it just probably didn't need to be done.

The younger version of Weisz looks about the same as Weisz does today. She is one of those actors who doesn't seem to age. As a result, the de-aging process adds some of that slightly distracting digital gloss to her early scenes without really making that much of a difference.

4 Best: Kurt Russell - Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

The question of who Peter Quill's father is gets answered immediately in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. In a flashback scene, a young Meredith Quill shares a romantic moment on Earth with the mysterious spaceman Ego, played by Kurt Russell.

While losing Ego's beard helps de-age him quite a bit already, the CGI solidifies the effectiveness of evoking a younger version of the actor with eerie accuracy. This is the Kurt Rusell viewers fell in love with in Escape from New York and Big Trouble in Little China.

3 Worst: Clark Gregg - Captain Marvel (2019)

The 1990s setting for Captain Marvel's first solo movie allows for a lot of fun nods to the era, but it also offers the opportunity to look at some of the younger versions of several MCU characters. While some of them are done very well, the return of Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) is a misstep.

As nice as it is to see Coulson back in the MCU movies, the sight of him with hair shatters the illusion. While his face does look younger with convincing CGI, Coulson's unconvincing hairpiece ruins the belief that this is a younger version of the character. It's just the Coulson audiences know from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. except with a bad toupee.

2 Best: Samuel L. Jackson - Captain Marvel (2019)

While making Clark Gregg a few decades younger in Captain Marvel wasn't entirely successful, the CGI worked for Samuel L. Jackson's return as a green but still tough Nick Fury.

Unlike the other situations in which the de-aging process was used for cameos or short sequences, young Nick Fury plays a big role in the movie as Carol's chief partner in taking down the Kree. Luckily, the CGI works effectively to conjure the illusion that Jackson is decades younger. It helps that Fury doesn't have an eye patch in this time period, which lends to the fantasy that this is Nick Fury as a young man.

1 Worst: Stan Lee - Avengers: Endgame (2019)

The brief cameos by Stan Lee have always been a highlight of the MCU movies. With his death in 2018, Lee's appearance in Avengers: Endgame is the last time he will appear in a Marvel movie.

Lee's cameo takes place as Steve Rogers and Tony Stark travel back to 1970 when a young Lee is seen driving by in his sports car. To be fair, this is the biggest age gap the MCU has attempted to bridge with de-aging technology. While not terrible, such a drastic change in looks just doesn't look right. The audience doesn't recognize or remember Stan Lee as a young man; they are only familiar with him as Marvel's elder spokesman.

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