In the latest incarnation of the Spider-Man franchise, Jamie Foxx stars as Electro–the supercharged supervillain who squares off with Spidey in an electrifying showdown in New York’s Times Square.
Foxx’s character–who gained his evil powers after an unfortunate mishap with a tank filled with electric eels–is a walking, talking blue orb, pulsating with electricity. But it took the special effects team lot of make-up and computer animation to create a convincing villain.
“(It) was like taking me and dipping me in blue candle wax for four hours,” Foxx laughed as he explained the process to FoxNews.com. “But then, when I looked at it and saw what they did with the computer-generated imagery (CGI)–it was incredible. People don’t even know that it’s actually me–they think it’s all CGI.”
'(It) was like taking me and dipping me in blue candle wax for four hours.'
- actor Jamie Foxx
For the “Amazing Spider-Man 2” digital effects artists, director Marc Webb wanted to push beyond just a flat cartoon image of the Electro character. “(He) stressed to us that he wanted to see something unique and unexpected for this character,” digital effects supervisor David Smith told FoxNews.com. “Our inspiration were things in nature that surround us–lightning storms were one of our key inspirations. What we developed, based on the idea that there was an electric storm going on inside his body. Depending on his mood, the storm can change speed and color. When it’s red, he’s really angry.”
“We were trying to stay away a simple lightening bolt as much as possible, which was really difficult to do,” added visual effects supervisor Jerome Chen. “But we found by going into outer space, we found more inspiration.”
The team created the electric effect by layering images of the aurora borealis combined with Midwestern lightning storms. The end result duly impressed the man who played Electro. “These guys are geniuses at what they do,” raved Foxx. “The head of the CGI department was like, ‘We got it. We know what we want to do. We want to make a thunderstorm inside your body.’ It’s great to see it all work.”
When Electro battles with Spider-Man in Times Square, the pair duke it out on a set that was created almost exclusively with digital effects.
“We ended up shooting it in actual Times Square just one night to acquire some basic footage to establish the character there,” Chen explained. “Then, we moved to a soundstage on Long Island, where we built a small section of Times Square and then used computer graphic techniques to basically enhance and augment the background.”
With over 100 billboards in Times Square–all of which had to be cleared by the advertisers–creating a set that accurately depicted one of the most iconic locations in New York City became something of a logistical nightmare for the filmmakers.
“I remember that scene came up in the script and we worked on it a little bit, and I was denying myself the pain and fear of thinking about how this was actually going to happen,” Webb told FoxNews.com. “I was like, ‘Oh, cool!’ and then I was like, ‘I don’t know how the f--- I’m going to do this.’ And then I was like, ‘Well, we’ll just build part of Times Square.’ And (the production designers) were like, ‘OK!’ I keep waiting for someone to say, ‘Are you insane?! How are we going to do that?’ But they were like, ‘OK, yeah, we’ll just do it.’”
Along with having to recreate almost every single billboard in Times Square, the digital effects team had to rebuild the entire CG set virtually from scratch.
“Throughout the years, we’ve built out a pretty substantial library of buildings in New York city that we reuse–they’re kind of like puzzle pieces or Lego blocks that we repopulate streets with,” explained Chen. “But Times Square by itself took about a year. We didn’t have a fully realized version of Times Square–we had little pieces of it.”
“That was pretty crazy,” Smith admitted to FoxNews.com. “We had no idea that we were going to have to replace that many (buildings).”
“In short, 50 artists worked for one year to create an environment that hopefully nobody would notice,” added Chen.
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” opens nationwide of Friday, May 2.