Justice League production designer on the film's many worlds
Production designer Patrick Tatopoulos was a key collaborator for Zack Snyder when the director began designing the visual language that would define the DC Extended Universe. Tatopoulos (Independence Day) worked with Snyder on 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and got the chance to develop a new look for Gotham’s loner hero. “Zack told me a couple things,” Tatopoulos explains. “A Batman that’s tough, bold, stronger, a little older. It started to define some things. It didn’t feel like an elegant, sleek thing. It felt like the guy was brutal — like brutalism, in architecture. This is why the Batcave is made of blocks, the glass house is very blocky.”
For November’s Justice League, the production designer got to further explore Ben Affleck’s Batman, developing the look of a carrier jet called the Flying Fox. But according to Tatopoulos, the exciting aspect of the superhero team-up film was the ability to build whole aesthetics around the newer additions. “The great thing about Justice League was more about: ‘What is the palette for Flash’s world? What is the palette for Wonder Woman’s world? What about the world of Aquaman?'”
Tatopoulos notes the sharp contrasts among the members of the Justice League. “There’s Flash as a guy, a regular dude,” he explains, referring to Ezra Miller’s rookie hero Barry Allen. “He’s goofy, he’s crazy, and his world is a world we should be able to relate to. And then you have the world of Wonder Woman, and I don’t want to take too much credit for that: the movie has been done, beautifully designed and directed. But there is this ancient civilization, that’s got it’s own golden and bronze-y textures. There’s Cyborg, who’s a real man, so this world is a world you should be able to relate to, before he becomes what he has become.”
Indeed, part of the challenge of Justice League was working with characters who are already split among expansive solo projects. While the film arrives after Wonder Woman, it’s intended to launch Miller’s Flash, Jason Momoa’s Aquaman, and Ray Fisher’s Cyborg into their own spinoff films. “You got Aquaman, underwater, there’s those very deep greens,” Tatopoulos notes. “The movie is being done now, but we actually had to create a look for it prior to that.” In Justice League, visual worlds will collide!