By Zack Zeigler
During the production of “Thor: The Dark World,” prosthetics designer David White had his hands full…of ridiculously creepy Dark Elf masks.
“The masks themselves, Alan Taylor, the director, was very keen on having a kind of…mystery to [them],” White said.
The edict passed down from Taylor was to have each mask lack expression while maintaining individuality. In other words, Woods needed to find a way to vary the Dark Elves’ appearances so they wouldn’t look as uniform as Storm Troopers.
|The Dark Elves in "Thor: The Dark World"|
“You can’t quite figure out what the masks are thinking, what’s behind them,” White explained. “That was the kind of feeling [Taylor] wanted. [There’s] a neutral, kind of eerie feeling to them…especially when there’s 40 of them standing, looking at you. It’s like the Mona Lisa. The expression is kind of cool.”
The materials used to create the masks ranged from flimsy to shell-like in texture.
“The masks and the armor were made out of different materials—some of them are very safe and flexible, and others are a little bit more hard-wearing,” he said.
The prosthetics required for Malekith the Accursed and his loyal soldier Algrim, played respectively by actors Christopher Eccleston and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, became an entirely different beast for White to tame.
“We had to remove the mask and see what they actually looked like, so…we created silicone prosthetics,” he revealed. “Every day there were brand new prosthetics…for Chris [and] then they’d go in and destroy it after every day.”
|Christopher Eccleston & Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje star as Malekith & Algrim in "Thor: The Dark World"|
That called for adding details to each mask on a daily basis. It was another time-consuming process, but a necessary evil to maintain legitimacy.
“There are a lot of elements that go in individually, [like] the wigs, separate ears [and] all sorts of different elements [that] have to be molded [and] sculptured.”
Every piece mattered--including something as minute as the eyebrows. Otherwise, the Dark Elves might risk looking like they had a handful of cat hair sprouting above their eyes.
“Every single one of the 350 hairs goes into every single eyebrow, so every single day we have a brand new set for them,” he said. “That’s pretty much what we deal with in this department.”
Vivacious eyes resembling those of a human being would obviously be incongruous with the joyless look Taylor wanted for the Dark Elves. To correct that, actors wore specialty contact lenses.
“They’re kind of a smoky color, [but the actors] can see very well out of them,” White said.
|Christopher Eccleston stars as Malekith in "Thor: The Dark World"|
As for ironing out the Dark Elves’ body type, White and his team created nearly 30 options before a final decision was made.
“[The idea] was to keep [their look] as off-world as possible so you can’t quite detect where [they] come from,” White revealed. “The cadaver feeling, the feeling of musculature is there as well to give them strength and elegance which is one of the focuses. I really wanted to pull the elegance out of these guys.”
And he managed to do so without limiting the mobility of the actors who were inside of the suits and masks.
“The way that we did this suit…it can really move,” he said. “[The stuntmen could] high kick and do what they had to do as stuntmen. They had a fantastic time because they weren’t impaired by any kind of great big armor getting the way.”
Get your tickets now for Marvel's "Thor: The Dark World," only in theaters November 8, and for the latest on the Mighty Avenger's new big screen adventure keep your eyes on Marvel.com, like the official Thor Facebook page and follow @ThorMovies on Twitter!