One of the coolest part of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and there are a lot of cool parts to gawk at, is the wide array of fantastic alien creatures that populate the universe. The vast majority of them, with notable exceptions like Groot and Rocket who were done with motion capture, are practical in nature. Director James Gunn made sure that as much as could be done with applications, costumes, and make up was in fact done that way, and it gives an air of the concrete and real to the film that it might otherwise have lacked. And how we’ve god a big gallery of images that showcase exactly how these ends were achieved.
Dave White helped design the special effects make up and helped Gunn and company come up with the unique looks for characters like Gamora, Nebula, Korath, Yondu, and Drax the Destroyer. They employed everything from simple body paint to complex pieces that had to be applied. Some were easier than others, and only had to cover a small area, like a face, but then there are more intense challenges, like covering up Dave Bautista’s entire torso with a complicated pattern of raised tattoo-like add ons.
The photos of that particular process in various stages of completion are the most interesting offerings here. You see the molds, as well as what appears to be a clear T-shirt that holds them in place, not to mention the finished product, all painted up and detailed.
About the process that went into the make up effects, White says:
James [Gunn] always pushed for practical and makeup effects. He wanted, like me, to see the real deal there on set. I’ve been fortunate to have been around the Marvel world for a little while. I like to think my own artwork and style has worked well within the universe. James had very specific ideas and I would give an interpretation of what I thought would work. Ultimately, it’s down to what the director wants to see: He needs to go through that process of testing ideas to see how they read in the world he wants to create. There is a retro hint in the [Guardians] designs. I was very careful not to use modern creature design influences that could have fallen short in the unique world Gunn had envisioned.
There are a great many things to appreciate in Guardians, from the action to the sarcastic sense of humor, but the way it looks is chief among them. Among Marvel movies, which often catch grief for all featuring a similar aesthetic despite the filmmakers involved, Gunn and his team managed to make a movie that feels uniquely its own. We all know that it is going to link up with the larger Cinematic Universe, but for now at least, this feels like more of a standalone movie than anything the studio has done since the first Iron Man. You didn’t spend the entire movie waiting for familiar faces to pop in for a cameo, and there’s something very refreshing about that.