The modern dominance that superhero movies enjoy at the box office is largely due to the great strides that CGI has made in the past two decades. But as life-like as computer-generated special effects have become, they still have some limitations. Director Patty Jenkins ran into some of those limitations while designing the main villain Cheetah for her upcoming movie Wonder Woman 1984. Those limitations made Jenkins decide to opt for keeping the CGI for the character to a bare minimum.
"Finding the right blend of prosthetics and CG to make that transformation was... it took a ton of [research and development]. It started from the day I started it, and we didn't complete it until the day we finished. It was so complex trying to figure how to pull off that character. I would lose so much sleep over it. Honestly. Because I was like, it could go so wrong. The first thing I did when I got on to the movie was that they said, 'We can do this all CG. We can put hair on people.' And I was like, 'Show me the bets example of that.' And I saw it, and I said, 'That's not good enough. If that's where our technology is, that is not good enough.' ... Cats was shooting on the stage next to us, and I knew that they were going through the same thing. And then I heard that they were just going to do it in CG. And I was like, 'I hope it works out for you!' But I've never been so thankful for the process I went through."
Ironically, Jenkins' previous DCEU movie, 2017's Wonder Woman, was also accused of featuring very poor CGI in the final battle scene and having a CGI main villain who looked like he was plucked out of a PlayStation video game. Hopefully, this time around the look of The Cheetah will be much more realistic. The character, played by Kristen Wiig, has a deeply intimate relationship with Diana, and their scenes together need to carry emotional heft. To that end, Jenkins explained that the look for The Cheetah was achieved through a combination of CGI and prosthetics.
"I didn't want Kristen's face to become some animated bizarreness. So then we ended up doing tons of prosthetics. Real work. And we only took over certain parts of her body. The rest of it is prosthetics."
Directed and co-written by Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman 1984 stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal, and Natasha Rothwell. The film will see Wonder Woman facing off against the combined might of Maxwell Lord and The Cheetah, even as her long-lost love Steve re-enters her life.
Wonder Woman 1984 arrives in theaters and HBO Max on December 25, while debuting theatrically in international markets starting on December 16. The film will be available for a month on HBO Max in the U.S. included at no additional cost. This news was first reported at Cinemablend.