WARNING: The article contains minor spoilers about the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Spider-Man: No Way Home featured the triumphant return of the past Spider-Man villains including Thomas Haden Church's Sandman from Spider-Man 3. Throughout most of the film, the character mostly appeared in his "Sandman" form and we only got to see him in his human form as Flint Marko during the end. As it turns out, the actor didn't shoot any new footage as it only took the magic of visual effects to bring him to life in the film.
During an interview with Before & Afters, Spider-Man: No Way Home visual effects supervisor Kelly Port discussed the process that they did on making the visual effects of Sandman in the film. First, he talked about the two sides of the characters.
"There were two parts to him, where he’s more humanoid and talking, and when he is in the sanctum," he said. "Digital Domain did a lot of that work. And then Luma did the sequence that we called the power line corridor, which is where Sandman is first introduced. And Electro is also introduced and they have that little battle before they all meet and then get sent to the sanctum. I have to say, if you’re able to see that in extended dynamic range, for both that sequence and the end battle, it really looks cool in that higher dynamic range. That electricity just pops."
He also discussed the challenges that they had on making the effects of the characters which required the collaboration of multiple VFX companies, "Then Imageworks, for the end battle, they did the much bigger Sandman with big FX sims. There were a lot of big sims in the end battle, not only with Sandman, but for the shield falling and crashing through all the scaffolding and millions and millions of pieces all interacting with each other, the crane falling through Sandman’s head and all that good stuff. I remember when we were first interviewing companies, there’s a little bit of collective post-traumatic stress disorder with anyone who had previously worked on Sandman. And so I knew that going in, I had a feeling this was going to be challenging both technically and creatively, just to get that character looking right and behaving right. But I think we were successful in the end. I think it looked pretty cool."
Afterward, it was revealed that Church didn't actually film any new footage as the Sandman in the film as he only did voice work for the character. "Well, we had his voice," Port shared. "We weren’t able to get a lot of visuals on him, but we were able to get his voice for sure and we got scans and textures and things like that."
It's not surprising to hear that Church didn't go to set to film new footage as the character since a lot of fans have noticed that, during the scene when Sandman returned back to human form at the end, they actually reused footage from Spider-Man 3 just like Rhys Ifans' The Lizard, who also appeared via reused footage from The Amazing Spider-Man and only provided voicework.
Despite that, it is still great that they found a way for all past villains to appear in the film whether they showed up physically on-set or only provided voicework. Either way, all of them had a major presence and contributed a lot to the story. It's just nice to see all of them again and still be as great as they were in their respective past appearance.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is still showing in theaters everywhere. You can also check out our streaming guide for the film here.