THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
For the look of Electro, Marc Webb chose to go in a different direction from
portrayed in the comics. KNB EFX Group was brought on to develop the special
effects make-up for the character and Sony Pictures Imageworks added the visual
effects layers that brought Electro to life. KNB EFX Group's Greg Nicotero
spearheaded the design and Academy Award winning special effects make-up artist
Howard Berger finalized the look in tests prior to production, and then served
as on-set make-up artists for both Foxx and the Electro stunt double.
To create the make-up, KNB did a series of life casts and body scans of Jamie
Foxx, from which they created positives to then build three-dimensional
sculptures. From there, the artists explored several possible designs and took
direction from Webb. "It ended up being 21 individual silicone pieces that we
glued to Jamie and his double Clay Fontenot every day," Berger says. "It was
pretty involved, but I wanted to keep this quality of the skin."
Electro has visible veins on luminescent blue skin, through which
electricity, rather than blood, appears to course, while his eyes are glowing
A key element in the design of Electro for Berger was to ensure that the
make-up did not hinder the performance of Jamie Foxx, with whom KNB had worked
on Django Unchained and Ray. "I wanted to make sure that Jamie was able to do
what he needed to do, that it didn't inhibit his performance in any way," says
Berger. "We sculpted everything thin enough so that if Jamie furrowed, you
really saw the furrow. Even though it's this blue guy with these crazy lenses,
you look at him and you know it's Jamie."
At Webb's direction, Berger also worked closely with Sony Pictures Imageworks
Visual Effects Supervisor Jerome Chen, whose work would add the electricity
effect to Electro's final look. "We studied clouds on the horizon and lightning
storms that occur within clouds," says Webb. "You see baffled light, that
magical, ethereal quality. I think it's really provocative."
"I knew that by working with Jerome, the combination of the two of us could
really make this something different, not your normal blue guy," adds Berger.
"On top of our design and Imageworks' visual effects, Jamie Foxx created a
pretty amazing character that's never been seen before."
"Marc always said, 'He needs to glow,'" says Chen. "At Marc's direction, we
started to look at research imagery of electrical phenomena. Almost by accident,
we found an image of a skull with a flashlight attached to it - there was a glow
coming from inside of it. And that's what we started to explore - the
electricity isn't just on the surface of his skin, but actually inside of him -
it's become his blood. He's an electrical entity, encased in flesh. The
electricity is inside his skin, filtering its light onto the surface of the
As inspiration, the visual effects team at Sony Pictures Imageworks looked to
the skies. "At Marc's direction, we're referencing nighttime thunderstorms,"
says digital effects supervisor David Alexander Smith. "You can look up during
one of those storms and see it's mostly clouds, but sometimes the whole sky will
light up, or a bolt or an arc will come through. That was our inspiration. We
combined that with the neurological network inside the human body - that became
our internal illumination network that carries the electrical charges. So, it
starts in Electro's forehead - there's an electric storm going on in there - and
we spread that throughout his body. It's a really impressive look, and combined
with Jamie Foxx's performance, it really makes the character something special."
"That blue just blew everybody's mind, the way they captured it," agrees
Jamie Foxx. "So once I got into the blue, even my voice changed - I figured
Electro's vocal cords had been burned."
In the end, it took a year for approximately 150 artists to bring this
element of the character to the screen.
The filmmakers wanted the first reveal of Electro - in Times Square - to feel
real. "He stumbles into Times Square in a hoodie and baggy pants - and it had to
look like the light was coming off of his body," says Tolmach. "We did it
largely practically - we built lights into the hoodie, but the way they cast the
light onto his face, it looked light the light was coming from him. It was an
amazing thing to do."
Later, Electro steals one of the skintight black uniforms from his guards at
the Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally Insane. It was a choice that came
about through a long process of investigation. "Deb's costumes have a mythology
to them," says Tolmach. "You have to understand why a character would wear that
costume; it has to have authenticity and believability and credibility. We all
love the look of Electro in the comic books, but there's no real-world
applicability to that costume. So the question that Deb asked was, what would he
do? What are the storytelling options? Well, what are the people wearing at
Ravencroft? What would you wear if you were working around someone who was
electrically charged? How would you protect yourself?" The costume came from
these questions and others.
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