5 Unsung Heroes Who Made Your Favorite Marvel Movie Moments
When you think about the MCU, a few tentpole names come to mind: Robert Downey Jr., Kevin Feige, Chris Evans, the Russo Brothers ... Miley Cyrus? Anyway, as a testament to this sprawling monster of a franchise, we felt it was time to learn about some of the unsung heroes behind the scenes. Heroes like ...
Andy Park Designs The Big Characters And Moments
When it comes to translating comic book characters to the big screen, the MCU has a solid formula: Take their look, remove the boob windows and shoulder pads, cast the hottest celebrity they can get, and sit back and watch the money roll in.
While that might sound like an oversimplification, that's a good approximation of what Andy Park does. As a visual development supervisor at Marvel Studios, Park is responsible for designing characters (and story moments) that audiences will cherish until the heat death of the Universe.
For Park and his team, the process of (re)designing a character begins with researching the looks they've had over the years and trying to figure out which ones, if any, would fit the tone of the movie. From here, they then draw up a slew of concept art that runs the gamut from "cool and clean" to "hyper-faithful to the source material" to "what the absolute eff are they wearing."
Park's involvement with the design of each character doesn't stop when the cameras start rolling, either. Throughout the making of each movie, Park consults with practically every department that gets close to his creations, from the costumers to the digital effects nerds to (probably) the caterers. Of all the characters that Park has helped realize over the years, his favorite shouldn't come as a big surprise:
I loved concept designing Hela [from Thor: Ragnarok]. I love her look from the comic book and I wanted to bring as much of that as possible. Of course her headdress is the most prominent aspect to her look and I love that Taika and Marvel Studios embraced that look. It's easy to make things "realistic," but to make something that looks great in the comic book but not practical (or seemingly impossible) in real life is no easy task. But we accepted the challenge.
There's another component to Park's job: illustrating key scenes in each film in order to help figure out their "mood, colors and overall feel." Considering that these are the moments that put butts in seats, it's a job Park can't afford to mess up. And he doesn't, judging by how eerily prophetic his concepts for several iconic moments turned out to be.
Dr. Clifford Johnson Is The MCU's In-House Scientist
Stan Lee once said that while he tried to make his stories as scientific as possible, the only thing he could never explain was how Hulk's pants were able to stretch and explode without exposing his greenie weenie. If Lee had employed Clifford Johnson, however, that mystery would've been solved inside five minutes.
Thanks to a program by the National Academy of Sciences that links movie productions with scientists, Dr. Johnson -- who also moonlights as a professor of physics at the University of Southern California -- has provided his knowledge to Thor: Ragnarok, Infinity War, Endgame, and the oft-forgotten gem Agent Carter, as well as no-name dross like The Martian and Star Trek: Discovery.
In doing this work, Johnson aims to make the science of each movie not only seem plausible, but look as realistic as possible. When it came to Endgame, for instance, Clifford consulted on the physics of the "time heist" and the idea of the heroes creating "branched timelines" by removing the Infinity Stones from history. While helping on Ragnarok, he was asked by director Taika Waititi to make sure that the movie was correctly portraying wormholes. Which means that "the Devil's Anus" might be the most realistic part of that film.
Sarah Finn Cast Everyone You Love
One thing that the MCU does well is pick actors, and those choices are all the work of one person: Sarah Finn, a casting director at Marvel Studios who has been with these movies since the start. She has, by her own estimate, cast over a thousand roles (ranging from leads to background extras). In fact, the only movie in the MCU she didn't cast was The Incredible Hulk, which wound up working out pretty well for Mark Ruffalo.
The complexity of the MCU means that when casting a character, Finn has to consider not only the movie at hand, but also any future movies in which they might appear. When casting Black Panther, for instance, she envisioned that Shuri might eventually appear in a scene with Tony Stark, owing to their shared love of technology (and sarcasm). This led to Finn casting Letitia Wright in the role. Although she never ended up acting opposite RDJ, it's hard to see this as a misstep, considering how great it was when Shuri wiped the floor with Bruce "Seven PhDs" Banner.
One Company Designs All The Cool Tech
The heroes of the MCU spend a lot of their time fighting otherworldly villains, so it makes sense that their gadgets have a certain otherworldliness about them. We're talking things like the Kimoyo Beads from Black Panther, B.A.R.F. from Civil War, the Quantum Locator from Ant-Man And The Wasp, and the Iron Man suit from, um, Iron Man.
If you've ever wondered who gets the job of brainstorming these contraptions, look no further than Perception, a design company originally hired by Marvel to help with graphics for Iron Man 2. They wound up doing such a great job that they've now helped bring over a dozen movies to life, including The Avengers, The Winter Soldier and Civil War, The Dark World and Ragnarok, and Black Panther.
According to Perception, every piece of technology they design is based on some kind of real science. The vibranium sand table from Black Panther, for instance? That's rooted in real-world experiments into "volumetric visuals" by the University of Tokyo. "We talk a lot about the science-fiction feedback loop, where science-fiction inspires science fact," explains Jeremy Lasky, one of the company's co-founders. "One of the things that we talk about a lot with Marvel is, when have you gone too far? If you go way beyond that, you lose your entire audience. We have to be innovative but not overly so that is just completely unbelievable."
And it's more than fancy gadgets and holograms. They were also hired by Marvel to design the title and credit sequences for movies such as Infinity War and Spider-Man: Homecoming, as well as the title card for Marvel Studios that's appeared at the beginning of every movie since Doctor Strange.
Russell Bobbitt Has The Best Toy Collection
Captain America might only have one shield in the movies, but in real life, he has 46. This astounding collection was built by MCU prop master Russell Bobbitt for The Winter Soldier, and each one is unique. There are ordinary metal shields, there are shields covered in bullet/weapons damage, there are shields made from rubber so that any actor who gets slammed doesn't have their organs bruised, and there are pristine show shields just for close-ups and hero moments.
No matter the shield, though, the reaction is always the same from visitors who stumble upon Bobbitt's storage closet. "People are in awe. If I hand somebody a shield ... they take the thing and they strike the Captain America pose. It's automatic."
When it came to Mjolnir, Bobbitt and his team designed over 200 variants, which differed in everything from shape to size to color to whether it should have a leather strap (which was a source of disagreement between Marvel and Kenneth Branagh during the making of Thor). After finalizing a design, Bobbitt (as with the shields) created several hammers -- as well as a Mjolnir made of solid metal which, true to legend, is too heavy for anyone to lift singlehandedly.
And then there's the Infinity Gauntlet. The gauntlets we see in Infinity War and Endgame are mostly CGI, but in order to give the digital effects crew something to work with, Bobbitt had a life-size version created by a blacksmith. It might've seemed like a good idea at the time, but we're sure the power went to Josh Brolin's head, considering that, according to Bobbitt, he "almost never" took it off.
Since the beginning of the MCU, Bobbitt has also had the honor of designing the arc reactors that adorn Tony Stark's chest. In the beginning, this was something he did solo. As time went on, however, RDJ became more involved in the process, so much so that prior to pre-production, the two will get together to hash out that movie's newest model. Sorry, wouldget together. That's not really going to happen anymore, is it?
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