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Thor: Ragnarok: Specialty costume

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The latest film in the Marvel universe has Kiwi blood running through its veins. Wellington’s Wētā Workshop manufactured hyper-stylised armour and weapons for the film, including super cool helmets for Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and even a costume for the film’s director, fellow New Zealander Taika Waititi.

Throwing themselves into Waititi’s colourful comic book world, Wētā Workshop was thrilled to reunite with acclaimed costume designer, Mayes Rubeo, who had worked with the crew on 2016’s Warcraft. The Workshop’s 3D, Costume and Props departments collaborated to manufacture a series of armour suits in Jack Kirby-esque colours; bold and bright. Says Project Supervisor Lans Hansen: “The overall look of the movie is amazing. It’s such a unique look.” 

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Sixteen suits for the Grandmaster Guard (led, in fine form, by Jeff Goldblum) were manufactured in four different colours, complete with custom-molded rubber cast components. Dipping into the Workshop paintbox, the crew brought the armour’s unique cyber-futuristic aesthetic to life in yellow, red, green, and purple. “This is,” according to Supervising Production Manager Danielle Prestidge, “probably the most amount of colour we’ve used on a costume job.”

For the main man himself, the Workshop created a form-fitting gladiator helmet complete with wing cheek guards that move up and down. Several costume components were also created as a reference for the film’s cutting-edge visual effects. For Taika, that meant a Lycra suit for motion capture, overlaid with foam sculpted forms. Says Lans: “Taika actually plays one of the characters in the movie…and we made him this amazing rock suit out of foam latex to help him get into character.” In the case of the Hulk’s helmet, the brief was simple: Go Big or Go Home. Using 3D printing technology, Wētā Workshop’s technicians crafted an enormous 1:1 scale helmet and pauldron far bigger than any ordinary mortal could wear.

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It’s not every day that bona fide superheroes wander through the doors of the Workshop on Wellington’s Miramar Peninsula. It was a real treat, then, to have Kiwi actor Karl Urban drop into the Workshop in person for his costume fitting: a complex build of striking blue armour with a beaten metal look and a muscle suit underneath. It was the fifth time Wētā Workshop fit Karl for a costume, the first being on the set of The Lord of the Rings. In a cool twist of fate, the same crew member who fit Karl into his Éomer costume – leatherworker Darin Gordine – was also the technician to fit Karl into his Skurge costume.

Bringing a technicolour blockbuster full of trademark Taika humour to the big screen, Thor: Ragnarok was released in the US on November 3 and is smashing it at the box office.

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