Warner Bros. did get some things right with last year’s Justice League: it was lighter in tone than its predecessor, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and finally delivered a much-anticipated team-up of some of our favorite characters. The movie didn’t fare too well with critics or at the box office, but that’s also probably not the detail that stuck in people’s heads. After a slew of production issues, a huge chunk of the buzz surrounding the movie came down to the very expensive removal of Henry Cavill’s mustache via CGI.
Parts of Justice League had to be re-shot when director Zack Snyder stepped down and Joss Whedon filled his role. During these reshoots, though, Cavill, who plays Superman, had grown a mustache for his role in Mission: Impossible 6. He wasn’t allowed to shave it, but Superman can’t have a mustache, so the production crew of Justice League decided to deal with it in post-production with some heavy CGI. The result was totally ridiculous and super distracting.
That’s where some random dude on the internet and new artificial intelligence technology comes in. Remember that horrifying story about AI-assisted fake porn? (For those not in the know: a Reddit user created an app that uses open-source machine learning tools to create fake porn that swaps out porn stars’ faces with celebrities'.) Well, someone finally decided to use those powers for good and apply it to “fix” Cavill’s mustache in Justice League.
Basically, with a $500 used PC and this new AI technology, some dude with a YouTube account did a better job than the $300 million dollar budget shelled out for Justice League. Welp.
As Gizmodo points out, these tools will “completely revolutionize the visual effects industry, allowing filmmakers without a Hollywood-sized budget to produce FX-laden movies that can easily compete with those coming out of the big studios.” But if YouTube user Deep Fakes is any measure, people who master this technique will actually do a better job than big studios with Hollywood-sized budgets.