From Set Decorator Leslie Pope SDSA...
AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR brings together storylines from not only the Avengers
series but also GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, BLACK PANTHER, IRONMAN, ANTMAN, DOCTOR STRANGE, and more.* Some of the film takes place on Earth but the script ventures to fantastical space vessels, celestial forges, destroyed stars and alien paradises. Trying to stay faithful to the looks created in the other series was important to all of us – not to deliver a slavish re-creation of another film but to find that sweet spot where the emotional temperature of our version matches that of its predecessors.
Additionally, Charles Wood, Production Designer of both this and the upcoming film to be released in 2019, was insistent in grounding our sets in the physical world. Spaceships galore were built and decorated top to bottom. All of the Earth-bound sets were constructed or shot on location and many, many scenes scripted on other worlds were shot on beautifully built sets with a modicum of VFX help.
The Art Department designs for most of the space vehicles were based on some aspect of current aviation. Accordingly, during prep, the airline graveyards in the San Fernando Valley, Mojave Desert, Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Texas were picked clean by me, my Assistant Set Decorator Claudia Bonfe, Buyers Courtney Cocherell, Charlotte Lee and Helen Kozora, and a small army of Set Dressers led by Leadman Russ Anderson. Machinery and equipment recyclers in California, Oregon, Washington, Georgia, Alabama, Florida and North and South Carolina knew us. Automotive and truck wreckers became our best friends. (One of them gave us fresh eggs from his farm every time we visited!) Pickers from New York State, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Delaware, Texas and all over the South helped us. We gathered a warehouse of equipment and machinery large and minute, from turbine engines to ejector seats to oxygen tanks to cockpits and avionics. These became building blocks for the many spaceships, of course, but when molded, painted, distressed and /or reconfigured were also used in many of the Other World environments.
is taken prisoner and tortured by Ebony Maw,
who pilots this aptly named ring-shaped ship with giant levers that soar many feet in the air. The floor of the ship and the enormous levers were constructed and were covered in diverse parts sourced by my team, and molded to make multiples. Set Dressers spent weeks installing hundreds of objects.
This ship features in the film THOR: RAGNAROK, but in our version, it is seen after a great fiery battle has taken place and the interior of the vessel is charred and destroyed.
One item that played prominently was a machine that makes chicken nuggets which is a zany machine that looks vaguely like a giant steel octopus and that our Production Designer loved. We scoured the country for more and were able to find a total of five.
This ship is a later generation of the Milano
, Peter Quill’s
ship from the first GUARDIANS
film. The galley and wings were reused from films one and two but the cockpit was a total rebuild and the galley/wings were completely redressed and upholstered, new seats and furnishings constructed and installed. Set Dec installed/appliquéd hundreds of pieces to floors, walls, ceilings and seats. We acquired ejector seats from US and European sources, installed working hydroponics units, quilted miles of leather for upholstery panels, engine baffles, etc, made seatbelts, added screens, visors, cargo bins and nets, armory racks, etc etc etc!
aka Escape Pod...
An escape pod of the Benatar
, this tiny sphere is FILLED with tanks and handles and levers and upholstery and gizmos. Thor, Groot
head to Nidavellir
in search of new weaponry for Thor,
in seats made for us by our fantastic propshop, headed by SPFX Coordinator, Dan Sudick. The seat upholstery, seatbelts, wrapped handles and wall upholstery took weeks to acquire and install by our incomparable Drapery Department—Brad Curry, Drapemaster + Don Goodman, Drapery Gangboss and staff—and once again, the Set Dressers installed, installed, installed hoses, tanks, buttons, hooks, handles, belts, visors, screens ad infinitum. See photos above.
Greenwich Village Street Battle...
We transformed a three-block segment of a downtown Atlanta street into Greenwich Village
with the requisite newsstands, bodegas, shoe repair, psychic, record store, bakery, etc. Window dressing, awnings and street furniture were installed and then made to look damaged and destroyed for the battle.
The Sanctum Sanctorum Of Dr Strange...
The most fun, and my favorite set on Movie One! The physical set from the DR STRANGE film was shipped to Georgia from London and rebuilt, reconfigured, repainted. Aside from a pair of console tables and a pair of sofas that had each been built to match the curve of the sets walls, we decorated from scratch.
Our idea is that this story takes place 3-4 years after DR STRANGE and during that time our character has voraciously consumed information and knowledge of myriad subjects and has traveled extensively in this and other worlds. His Sanctum Santorum
reflects this with a plethora of rare volumes, ephemera, artworks and objects ranging from tribal to fanciful to sublime. We brought in furnishings and artwork from Europe, Asia, New York, Georgia, California.
The Avengers Compound...
Dressed as a multidisciplinary laboratory to reflect the diverse interests and skill set of Tony Stark
, this large set included a clean room, an infirmary, a hydroponics lab, a lounge, kitchen, TV room and more. Redressed multiple times as other floors or areas of the same compound. The set stood for well over a year.
in BLACK PANTHER is located in the heart of the mountain that contains the source of the Wakandan
energy and technology, the Vibranium
mine. Our Art Department reused this set with its central column and high windows viewing the interior of the mine. However, in our story, this is a lab several floors above Shuri’s
and is a more sterile environment, more appropriate for the delicate neural bypass operation that Shuri
is attempting with Vision
. The walls and floors became metal in our lab, new practical light sources were installed—thanks to Artemide for gathering the amount we needed from showrooms around the country and shipping them to us pronto—and specific stylized surgical carts and equipment were dressed onto the set. To ground us in Wakanda
, we researched Crest Masks
(known as Ci-Wara) from the Segou region of Mali, designed, cleared and fabricated two in large scale (with pedestals) and they appear prominently in the scenes here.
An enormous loading dock on Knowhere
, the planet made from the severed head of a Colossus
, that houses the caged specimens gathered from around the galaxy by Tivan, The Collector
[Benicio del Toro]. As established in the first of the GUARDIANS series, The Collector’s
area is very industrial, each cage bulky and forbidding, bristling with levers, knobs, tubing of unknown function. Our Construction Department built an enormous three-walled set, elevated on a grated steel deck, under which the Set Dressers installed miles of cables, conduit, pipes, hose and hundreds of small practical lights and continued the same up the walls, in increasing size. We sourced real machine parts from Los Angeles, Atlanta and points in between and I feel as if we purchased every aviation, nautical and automotive light fixture in the US. New cages were built and populated with strange relics, outlandish fauna, etc.
This star forge is home to Eitri
[Peter Dinklage] and the Dwarves
(who are giants, imagine that), makers of Asgardian
weapons. I had several implements, tables, stools, wheels and pipes designed and fabricated in several different scales to accommodate the needs of the actors, as Eitri
was supposed to tower over Thor
. We found real forge parts in Alabama and brought the VERY heavy pieces to Georgia. The stage platform had to be reinforced in order to accommodate them!
are additional worlds we touched upon.
And there is yet more to come in next year’s film!