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About The Production (Continued)

To help define the look of the characters as they make the jump from the page to the screen, costume designer Michael Wilkinson was once again given the opportunity to bring depth and dimension to illustrations known the world over.

As always, Wilkinson and his team sought a balance that provided room for their own creativity while respecting the legacy of the original artists. His designs had to take into account practical matters such as stunts and weather, while also, he says, "infusing it all with a modernity that makes them relevant and relatable to audiences today. When I design these big superhero films, I really put pressure on myself to use new technologies that might not have been available even a year or two ago."

To that end, Wilkinson relates, "We used 3D rendering programs to create the illustrations of my designs, and then also used 3D digital technologies during our manufacturing process. We scanned our actors so we could apply the designs directly onto them, either as full-size mannequins or in the computer, and used 3D printers to make elaborate costume elements and molds. We cast costume elements in urethane, which we discovered can be made super rigid or super soft, depending on which part of the suit it's being used for. We embedded the urethane elements in a stretch base fabric, and so we created a new type of fabric onto which a variation of colors and textures can be painted. Everything was pretty much sculptured from head to toe."

Wilkinson was responsible for the design of the iconic Wonder Woman costume, first seen in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," and seen again recently in "Wonder Woman." "In between our two contemporary films, you have the "Wonder Woman" standalone film, set in World War I, designed by Lindy Hemming," he says. "Lindy and I spent a couple of weeks researching the world of Wonder Woman and coming up with a visual language for the Amazon race, so there would be a clear unity of vision between the films. Of course, because we are both creative people and have our own interpretations, there's a slight difference in the look of the Amazons in the two films. And 100 years have passed between the period of that film and ours, so that needed to be reflected."

Wilkinson's Wonder Woman costume is essentially the same in all three films, and there is definite visual continuity. "The costume changes very slightly in each film; there are tiny shifts of color and proportions," notes Wilkinson. "In 'Justice League,' it's a little bit more vibrant compared to 'Batman v Superman,' and has a little bit more glow, but the main iconic elements-the star and tiara, her lasso, the rig for her sword and shield, the eagle across the chest plate, and the WW in the belt-are all exactly the same."

Fans will see a new Batsuit in the third act of "Justice League." Referred to as the "tactical suit," it was designed, says Affleck, "for Batman to wear for the higher-level battle, when we have to get more serious and deadlier. The suit is more armored and more tricked out."

It was also the toughest costume to make. Wilkinson notes, "Because of the physicality of the Batman character, there was so much that Ben and his stunt doubles had to do...and to do it while creating this hulking silhouette that Zack was after, this tower of muscle and brawn. To achieve that and make the costume comfortable-not too hot, not too claustrophobic, and very flexible-was super-challenging."

For the look of Arthur Curry, Wilkinson found inspiration in the actor himself. "My starting point was actually Jason's own tattoos," reveals Wilkinson. "He has quite a few, but the one on his forearm is particularly fantastic. I was inspired to fashion a new graphic language, and designed a unique tattoo that covered his entire body. It created this interesting connection between Jason's own background and that of his character."

Aquaman's armor then became a sort of 3D version of the tattoos. The "scale mail" was then infused with the colors of ocean lifeforms. "The paint work on the finished product has almost a bioluminescence," Wilkinson says, "a lovely, iridescent quality that catches the light. But at the same time there is a sense of incrustation, that it has been underwater for so many thousands of years you could almost imagine plankton and small barnacles living on the armor."

Unlike the other Super Heroes, whose costumes were inherited from their clan or are the product of wealth, The Flash has neither money nor heritage. He is just coming into his powers and struggling to adapt. Nevertheless, Wilkinson notes, "he's extremely intelligent and great with technology. I had to think about how he would protect himself from the high speeds that he's traveling and the resulting high temperatures. Barry's young, a nerd; he would likely go online, research perhaps what NASA is doing, or look into vehicle and plane design to see how things move through space very quickly. He would probably have stolen a 3D printer to build his own parts. So, his costume has this fantastic blend of high technologies, like heat-resistant materials and prototype aerodynamic shapes, mixed with his grassroots skater punk aesthetic."

Over 100 pieces were handcrafted to create the costume. "It's made up of innovative new materials, but they're scratched and busted-up, some of the panels are missing, or they've just got the undercoat. Then on top of that you have a complex system of wires that crisscross the body to create this incredible sort of matrix across the surface of the costume," the designer expounds. "Zack really wanted it to feel like a prototype suit, the very first manifestation of The Flash putting together a look."

Cyborg's costume, too, would be a first. "As soon as Zack and I started talking about this character," recalls Wilkinson, "it became clear pretty quickly that his costume would have to be a CG thing. Cyborg's technology is extremely alien; if we had had to make the suit, then inevitably we would have had to resort to hinges and screws and ball sockets, things that we've seen before."

Wilkinson and his concept artists came up with an immensely detailed 3D model of Cyborg, defining the graphic language and textures of the alien world. They then handed it over to the visual effects department, who continued to develop Cyborg's look under Snyder's direction and guided by the actor's performance. For the shoot, it was simply a matter of Wilkinson's team sewing together Ray Fisher's "pajamas": the blue-dotted performance capture suit that the skilled VFX artists would digitally replace, under the supervision of visual effects supervisor DJ DesJardin.

Wilkinson also turned his attention to Superman's suit, marking his third go 'round. "This time, you're going to see a Superman that's a little more lustrous," says Wilkinson. "We developed an extremely beautiful metallic chromed under-suit that Henry wears, using materials and processes that weren't available for previous versions of the costume. And for the over-suit, we created a mesh that's a slightly bolder blue than the last film, so he really jumps off the screen in such a heroic way. And Zack had the fantastic idea of incorporating some Kryptonian scripts throughout the suit, so we wove some of that language, which we'd developed for 'Man of Steel,' through the S, across the bicep, through the belt, and in the cuff details. It adds that extra layer of meaning and detail for the audience."

The suit was created by screen-printing a dimensional print onto a thin mesh that is itself the latest in fabric technology. "It's even more sheer and beautiful and lustrous than what you saw in 'Batman v Superman,'" Wilkinson asserts, "but super strong so that it didn't fall apart when it was stretched tight. We also found amazing new printing inks that make a very dimensional, high-raised surface, and new paints that make it appear almost chromed. All of these little tweaks add up to a bolder, more impactful costume."

Techniques aside, perhaps the newest territory for the "Justice League" costume department was in housing the entire costume crew under one roof. Normally on a film of such scope and scale, each main character's costume is made by a different manufacturing company, under the direction of the costume designer. But this time, the filmmakers did something they'd never done before.

"We did it all in-house," Deborah Snyder explains. "We had hundreds of amazing artists and sculptors right there at the studio, so we could walk by and see what they were doing at any time. It gave Michael a huge amount of creative control, and, practically speaking, we were able to quickly repair something if it was damaged during a stunt."

The enormity of the task of manufacturing every costume in-house becomes more apparent when you consider there are six Super Hero costumes, each requiring multiples for stunt work and different scenes, as well as costumes for their six civilian alter-egos, plus more than 180 named characters, and 3,000 extras who appear in the film.

Having the ability to immediately address any costume issues came in handy for Wilkinson, due to the changing physiques of the main cast members. All trained extensively for their roles, building up more muscle as shooting progressed. Some of the actors gained as much as ten percent in body mass during production. This meant Wilkinson's team had to keep the tape measure out and constantly adjust the costumes throughout filming.

Finally, Wilkinson's costumes also had to withstand the "tuning forks." First developed for use on "The Matrix Revolutions," they were introduced to the filmmakers by stunt coordinator Eunice Huthart. The device resembles a huge tuning fork, hence the name. The actor is strapped into the middle, and there is a counterbalance that enables him to mimic weightlessness, like being underwater, for example. Not only can he be rotated forward and backwards, but also on the y-axis. Just as Superman can fly, Aquaman can float.

What used to take up to seven stunt crew to operate, strides in technology-namely, high-speed robotic arms developed for use in the auto industry-significantly reduce the effort. Special effects supervisor Mark Holt assured the cast that the robots were not only safe, but actually safer than their human counterparts; in fact, the same software is used for robotic surgeries.

"In the old days, we would make a bespoke piece of equipment for every job," admits Holt. "Now we can use these robots, literally called Safe Robot, which are so accurate that they can repeat a move every time within 0.2 of a millimeter."


For Batman, whose wealth is his superpower, his weapons include a fleet of highpowered vehicles, and one of the greatest in his arsenal is the Batmobile. The vehicle has earned its reputation as the apex predator on the mean streets of Gotham City. The car's imposing defense capabilities, supported by appropriated Wayne Industries technologies, have been combined with the latest in covert military grade armaments, stealth and active protection systems. Powered by an unmatched hybrid of prototype military and civilian performance technologies, it has been estimated to reach speeds of up to 205 MPH.

Fundamentally the same vehicle from "Batman v Superman," the Batmobile, like Batman's suit, was fortified with a little extra armor for this film. "We're battling aliens now," says production designer Patrick Tatopoulos, "so this thing needed to be pumped up. But when you look at it, you'll still know it's that car. And that's the thing: we didn't want to reinvent the Batmobile completely, because it was designed in such a way that aspects of it could be transformed, changed, or upgraded. For example, it was designed in the last project to be able to raise and lower itself, but it never had to because the car traveled on regular roads. But in this movie, we have some serious off-road work, and so we finally get to see all the car can do."

"One of my favorite things to film was when I jumped on the Batmobile-that was badass!" grins Jason Momoa. "I was like, I cannot believe I'm surfing the Batmobile right now!"

Batman's latest machine, the hybrid electric Knightcrawler-essentially a four-legged tank-was specifically designed to navigate through tight, dark and unpredictable terrain, and is among the most advanced of Batman's vehicle fleet. It can tackle almost any topography; however, when the tank treads reach their limit, it's the independently functioning mechanical appendages that allow it to perform such gravity-defying maneuvers as scaling vertical walls. In addition, it is equipped with a full arsenal of weapons - from a front-tow missile launcher to rear rocket launchers and more.

While much of the machine was made in post, a practical skeleton was built for stunts. Each version of the Knightcrawler featured a steel frame made from a jig, with aluminum sheathing "skin," and an interior made of a honeycomb foam called F-Board. These kept the crafts lightweight but as strong as possible. In the middle was a seat for Batman, and on either side were gull-wing doors that could be opened as needed. Lights and other dressing were added, and then all was mounted onto a heavyweight robot that could move a metric ton of cargo at an astounding two meters per second.

When your archenemy is holed up halfway around the world, though, you also need a way to transport your weapons, along with your fellow superheroes. The largest vehicle in Batman's mobile arsenal, The Flying Fox, is a hybrid aircraft with the capability of a bomber and the maneuverability of a jet fighter. Reaching speeds of nearly 1,000 miles-per-hour, with an attack altitude of up to 50,000 feet, it also has vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capabilities. The Flying Fox consists of three large-scale levels and can even carry the newly augmented Batmobile inside.

The whole of The Flying Fox interior was built on a soundstage, with the exterior built in post. Tatopoulos admits it was his favorite set. "On every movie, there's a little thing that gets me pumped up. This is the one that I really got excited about on this film. It's a bomber but I wanted it to look like a jet, with the cockpit very far back and a very long front nose like you see in WWII fighter jets. In fact, I was very much influenced by the Spitfire. I've always been fascinated by those planes; I love how the pilot is way back and it's almost like you're sitting on the biggest engine on the planet and you're flying that thing. A much more modern approach to jets is to have the cockpit in the front, but I think the more traditional design works with Bruce Wayne and his classic sensibility. And if you look at the elements of the jet, they look like they were collected together and articulated; it's a very similar language to the car. So, it's something new but without losing the Batman aesthetic."

When Batman isn't commanding the Knightcrawler or the Batmobile, or flying around in the Fox, he's driving his stylish new Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision Gran Turismo. Zack Snyder saw the stunning electric, remote-controlled concept car and wanted it for Bruce Wayne. The only problem was the car, as a real, functioning vehicle, didn't exist. The concept unit was also slightly too small for 6'4" Ben Affleck and the demands of filming a vehicle interior. The logistics could have swayed the filmmakers in another direction, but they didn't. Mercedes agreed to build another unit, ten percent larger and with a working interior and doors to accommodate the needs of the filmmakers. It still wouldn't have an engine, drivetrain, or chassis, but picture vehicle coordinator Alex King had a solution for that: for the car without an engine, he and his team would build an engine without a car. More specifically, they would custom build a rig to "drive" the car. King put a front-wheel-drive engine in a "power unit," which could then be mounted via a tubular chassis to the rear of the VGT, while the driver pod controlling engine and steering could be mounted anywhere on the rig.

The team didn't stop there. King recalls, "We were knee-deep in the build, which involved a huge amount of engineering, when it seemed crazy not to have a platform that we could put on the back of the power unit. Why not produce everything we would need in a tracking vehicle for cameras and crew and cranes, and all the other bits and pieces that are involved, and without the weight restrictions and other limitations of rigging?"

The answer was a lightweight, super-strong, modular rig designed from scratch. The rig could be lengthened, shortened, or widened as needed, with the camera placed anywhere the director wanted, and the engine, drive unit, and crew moved about. "It meant that we could take the vehicle on the road and shoot hero closeups of vehicle and actor, without the car being on the road, while also having the crew and lighting and camera all onboard. It was an amazing thing to be a part of," King says.


To build and house his private fleet, Bruce Wayne utilizes his secret high-tech workshop, the Batcave. The set from the previous film had been dismantled, but not before it was scanned in its entirety for use in later films in order to help maintain continuity. In "Justice League," portions of the physical set were recreated, then extended in post by DesJardin's visual effects team.

The same technique was used to replicate the Kent farm. Cavill notes, "We had a version of the Kent farm over in the UK. They did some very clever stuff with something called an EnviroCam, so it actually looked like we were in the same place where we shot the original. It was a fantastic experience. It really looked and felt like the Kent farm, only a lot colder since we were in England."

To house the enormous Flying Fox, the hangar set had to be one of the film's largest: approximately 100 feet long and 23 feet high. Visual effects then extended it to a scale of about 400 to 500-feet long and up to around 80-feet high. The practical set had a very industrial feel; it was built on solid concrete that took three pours to achieve, and the walls were constructed with steel pipes. But that meant the set could handle the heavy weights of the vehicles and other structures.

To dress it, Tatopoulos says he found inspiration "on the side of a locomotive engine from the 1920s. I was in Detroit last year and I saw this incredible locomotive. The walls are basically a reproduction of what that looked like, with all those pipes. I thought it was an incredible look. There's soot everywhere, and we added the sheen that you see on an oily engine. I think it made the set a bit more alive."

Illuminating the sets was the purview of director of photography Fabian Wagner. His team shot on film, as is director Zack Snyder's preference, which was a change for Wagner, who had been shooting digital for the past five years, joking that he had to dust off his light meter. He also had to adapt to Leica lenses, which he hadn't used before, because they proved the best choice for the spherical shoot with which Snyder was experimenting.

While the majority of the film was shot over six stages at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden just northwest of London, there were a few crucial location shoots. One notable site was the infamous Old Bailey in London, where Wonder Woman foils an attack. The biggest location shoot by far, though, was in the fishing village of Djúpavík in northwest Iceland, where principal photography wrapped.

In the middle of nowhere in Iceland's western fjords, there were few accommodations: one hotel with perhaps fourteen small rooms. The production numbered upwards of 200 people, so they brought in hundreds of campers, effectively building their own small town out in the stark but beautiful landscape of the country. To capture the required sequence, they shot 1,000 feet above the village, using three helicopters to airlift approximately 36 cast and crew to the top, along with the necessary equipment, including a crane.

In the film, Bruce Wayne heads to the remote village in search of the Aquaman, beseeching him to join the team he is building to address the coming threat. What Bruce doesn't know is who or what that enemy will be, or why it has set its sights on Earth. It's only Diana who will later explain to him that everything revolves around the Mother Box-three of them, as a matter of fact.

The first props Tatopoulos designed for the film were the Mother Boxes, and as we learn from Diana, these devices don't create power, they are power. Time is running out for the League, who may or may not be powerful enough to defeat this enemy. It will take everything they have-and maybe even something more-to succeed.


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