Justice League’s Godlike Villains Were Brought to Life by VFX, Not Mother Boxes

Justice League’s Godlike Villains Were Brought to Life by VFX, Not Mother Boxes

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Image: HBO Max/Warner Media

Steppenwolf and Darkseid were two of the biggest changes in Zack Snyder’s Justice League. “Big” as in, they are large beings, but also “big” in that Steppenwolf was completely redesigned for the new film and Darkseid is a crucial character that was almost a completely new addition.

Weta Digital did the visual effects for both characters and while we’ve written about it extensively, the company also provided some awesome looks at several of the steps that go into each design. Check them out in our...Darksleidshow.

Entertainment Reporter for io9/Gizmodo

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Layout Camera Diagnostic

Layout Camera Diagnostic

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Image: HBO Max/Warner Media

When you’re creating a shot where nothing is real, you have to think about many specific things. For instance: where is the camera in this world? What would it see? What would the light look like in that space? Where is it coming from? Here’s an image of the Weta team figuring some of that out.

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Facial Animation

Facial Animation

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Image: HBO Max/Warner Media

Grumble grumble. The focus in this image is for the Weta animators to use their tools and get Darkseid’s facial expressions just as mean as they want them to be.

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Animation blocking

Animation blocking

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Image: HBO Max/Warner Media

If you recall, there’s a lot going on in this scene. So here’s an early glimpse of the Weta team putting all the elements in rough form together to see how it’s all going to work.

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The Whedon Cut

The Whedon Cut

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Image: HBO Max/Warner Media

Here’s the shot in question in the 2017 theatrical film. You notice that it’s not Darkseid here, it’s Steppenwolf, because Darkseid’s story was 99% cut. So basically Weta had to put another character in the scene who it wasn’t originally designed for.

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The Snyder Cut

The Snyder Cut

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Image: HBO Max/Warner Media

The final vision comes to life. Plus, notice that Snyder’s 4:3 aspect ratio is put in place here, extending the image up and down.

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Steppenwolf MoCap

Steppenwolf MoCap

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Image: HBO Max/Warner Media

With new scenes and animation, Weta had to do some additional motion capture on Steppenwolf in Zack Snyder’s Justice League to get the movements right.

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Early Animation

Early Animation

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Image: HBO Max/Warner Media

This almost looks like a statue in the outdoors but it’s actually an early animation test. The aim is to make sure the pieces of Steppenwolf’s armor are moving and lit properly.

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Creature Simulation

Creature Simulation

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Image: HBO Max/Warner Media

Nope, Steppenwolf was never going to be blue in the film. But he looks blue when the Weta Digital team runs its simulations on his new, spikey armor.

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The End

The End

Illustration for article titled Justice League’s Godlike Villains Were Brought to Life by VFX, Not Mother Boxes
Image: HBO Max/Warner Media

Put all of that (and a whole lot more) together, and here’s the result.


Zack Snyder’s Justice League is now on HBO Max.


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Entertainment Reporter for io9/Gizmodo

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