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SUCKER PUNCH

Armed For Bear
As the story unfolds, Babydoll's fantasies take her and the other girls into vastly different worlds where they must fight adversaries ranging from armies of the undead, to dragons to cyborgs in order to retrieve the talismans—a map, fire, a knife, a key and a mysterious fifth item—that the Wise Man has advised Babydoll she'll need to escape her captors. Of course, in order to fight these enemies, the girls had to be armed to the teeth, carrying an array of weapons, including fully automatic M4 assault rifles, a variety of machineguns and sub-machineguns, Remington 12-gauge shotguns, flintlock pistols, various handguns, WWI bayonets, broad swords and a tomahawk.

The most intricate weapon created for "Sucker Punch” is the first one Babydoll receives: her samurai sword. After much testing, the design team, led by property master Jimmy Chow, settled on a wakizashi blade with a katana handle reduced in girth to fit Emily Browning's small hands and stature. The sword featured a handle of black rayskin (the belly of the Manta Ray, favored by the Japanese for its sandpaper-like quality that prevents slipping), covered with oiled brown leather, a hand-carved tsuba, or sword guard, and hand-sculpted bronze menuki, charms hidden beneath the leather. The saya, or scabbard, was made of lacquered wood festooned with snowflakes—another key symbol in the film—with a gold braid sash to fasten the sword to Babydoll's leather shoulder holster rig.

Making the sword even more about design than function, however, Zack Snyder wanted the sides of the blade engraved with symbols that, when read chronologically, reveal the entire storyline of "Sucker Punch.”

Browning found that detail particularly compelling. "I thought it was so interesting that the whole story was represented along Baby's sword, because it almost sets her fate from the very beginning,” she says. "She has the whole story in her hands…she just doesn't know it.”

Designed by artist Alex Pardee, the engravings required a 40-hour process per blade. Two identical swords were made for the film, as well as several aluminum and bamboo replicas for the stunt fighting sequences.

"I was truly in awe of the design and workmanship that everyone put in to the making of this critical piece of not only weaponry, but storytelling,” Snyder commends. "It was precisely what I had envisioned and what the movie called for, both practically and aesthetically. I always love those symbolic touches in a film that you really have to look for, but that reveal so much when you do find them.”

The director's call for symbolism required customization for many of the girls' weapons, which were thus designed to relate back to the real world of each character. Blondie's tomahawk and pistol, for example, were engraved with her signature heart, while Babydoll's 1911 Colt .45 caliber handgun was carved on the slides with key symbols that appear throughout the story, such as the stuffed animal rabbit first seen in Babydoll's home, and accessorized with charms similar to those used by Japanese girls on their cellphones. Here, symbols of youth and innocence—the bunny, a baby bottle, a teddy bear—become symbols of innocence lost: an hourglass and a skull with a bow.

Some of the major weapons in the film were not tangible, but were, rather, a creation of visual and special effects, most notably a 25-foot, machinegun-toting Meka. A Japanese anime-inspired, bipedal armored fighting vehicle capable of rocketing through the sky, it was created largely by visual effects supervisor John "D.J.” Des Jardins, with only a practical cockpit built for Jamie Chung's Amber to pilot from.

Though the Meka is an imposing piece of machinery, Snyder and the designers weren't without their sense of humor, painting a battle-faded pink bunny face on its front, along with the Japanese words that translated roughly to "Danger! Woman driver!”—a phrase that should be taken quite seriously as Amber fires the Meka's multiple ammunition belts.

We can get lost in our worlds, we can believe that they're real. —Sweet Pea

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