The Spider-Man: No Way Home visual effects supervisor recently discussed the redesign of Electro’s powers. No Way Home premiered in December 2021 and quickly shot to the top of the box office, a spot it seems likely to hold even after 6 weeks. Directed by Jon Watts, Spider-Man: No Way Home saw Peter Parker (Tom Holland) face the multiverse with the help of MJ (Zendaya), Ned (Jacob Batalon), and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). The MCU’s first introduction of the multiverse on the big screen brings with it a host of old villains and two more Spider-Men (Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield) from previous movie series.
Among these returning villains is former Oscorp electrical engineer, Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx), known as Electro. In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a tragic accident involving a tank of genetically modified electric eels turns Max into a blue being with electric powers. When Electro returns in No Way Home, however, he has shed his blue coloring and now emits yellow lightning which is more closely connected to his mainstream comic book incarnation. In addition to the new costume, Electro’s powers behave differently in No Way Home than they do in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Electro seems more electricity than man. Now, Electro uses an arc reactor to power himself.
Visual effects supervisor for Sony Pictures Imageworks, Chris Waegner, explains some of the changes made to Electro’s character in an interview with Before & Afters. Waegner says their team designed Electro to be more dynamic in Spider-Man: No Way Home, so that his powers would threaten the heroes just with his presence. He also mentions how they thought about Electro’s lightning appearing on screen for No Way Home‘s final battle. Read Waegner’s full explanation below:
“For this show we pitched the electrical effects being more violent and staccato with moments of pure energy. The idea being, that when he zaps from location to location or he’s hovering taunting our heroes, the electrical effects are almost disorienting for our heroes. There’s always an electrical storm in the air surrounding Electro, almost like being near a giant Tesla coil. It opened up so many creative possibilities for the artists when lighting these shots, even though he may not have been in frame, once the electrical look had been established, we had the ability to do dynamic lighting which posed the threat of him nearby.We did a deep dive researching Electro’s updated look, reviewing many different real electrical events while trying to determine what was best for him. We even went back to comic book reference and incorporated some of that into his new look. If you just look at lightning references, you can find all kinds of crazy visual stuff, there are so many different types of lightning. Electricity presents itself in so many different forms, we ended up creating an updated stylized look we felt was both threatening and beautiful, while offering us some cinematic freedom in a night sky for our sequence.”
With Electro’s redesign, Sony not only updated the character, but they gave him an instant moment of growth. In Spider-Man: No Way Home, Peter Parker tries to save the villains who were past saving in their home universes. For Electro, whose biggest obstacle as Max Dillon was feeling isolated and insecure, losing his blue coloring and inhuman body clears that obstacle without neutering him as a villain. He still has the power and confidence to fight Spider-Man, but now his motivation’s been shifted. This makes his final reconciliation with the Spider-Men more believable.
By merging together three separate Spider-Man series in Spider-Man: No Way Home, Sony and Marvel had set themselves a difficult task. They risked losing a character beloved by fans amidst the huge collection of returning characters, but overall the movie honored all its characters. Adding more to Electro’s storyline with his redesign was like a special treat.
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Source: Before & Afters
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