Iron Man 3 – What more do we need to say? It is probably the biggest film of 2013, and Legacy has been honored to be a part of this amazing franchise. As the creators of every live-action Iron Man suit since the first Iron Man, as well as The Avengers, Legacy can’t wait for people to see what this next installment has in store. And now, we are privileged to show you some behind-the-scenes glimpses of this blockbuster film.
Every suit starts with a design, and that design comes straight from Marvel’s visual development department’s Ryan Meinerding, Phil Saunders and crew. Once all the designs are approved through the many tiers of production, it is then up to us to make the design a reality and fit the actors inside the suit. Each design is fully built in a 3D program, piece by piece. But how do we fit Robert Downey Jr. or Don Cheadle into a digital model? Easy–we scan the actors into 3D models too! That way we have their exact dimensions and can tailor the suit to fit them perfectly. We can actually place a digital version of Downey inside the digital suit and see where his form may break through it, and vice-versa. Then it’s a matter of a some more alterations for a nice, snug fitted metal suit. Mmmm….. comfy.
The funny thing is, not much of the final suit is actually metal. In fact, they are comprised of many different materials, such as fiberglass, plastic and silicone. In addition to making these suits as convincing as possible as metal machines, our goal is to make sure the actors are comfortable inside them. The suit can’t look stiff or respond to the actor’s movements in a clunky way. They need to offer a full range of movement, and comfort so as not to inhibit the actor’s performance. Each piece of the suit is then grown on our 3D printer, and sent to the shop for molding and casting.
Once we decide what pieces get cast in what material, it is time to paint them up and make them camera ready. This is quite a tedious process due to the many different materials involved. One material may react differently to the paint application than others will. This can be troublesome because it all needs to look uniform, rather than looking piecemealed together. Luckily, our painting wizards have ways of figuring this out, and we put it into their very capable hands.
During the whole fabrication process we need to be doing some fitting tests as well. Dressing the mannequins is good for visuals, but we really need to see how these suits react to movement. Sadly, the actors are not available at our beck and call, as they have more important places to be. Fortunately for us, we have some very willing volunteers on staff to test these suits. Who would turn down being Iron Man, even if only for a few minutes? These fittings are very important because they allow us to gauge the comfort levels and the mobility of each suit. Plus, we can see if there will be any wear and tear from pieces rubbing together, or places that may reveal the actors body.
Not only do we get to suit up Tony Stark, but we’ve also been honored to populate his hall of armor with several replicas of the previous suits from the first two films. Because these suits do not need to be worn, they can basically be hollow props for set decoration. Also, sad to say, these beauties need to be fitted with several explosives for one of the larger action moments where Tony’s entire armory is destroyed. Sometimes it is a little sad to see our work blown to bits, but deep down …it’s pretty damn cool.
This series has been an amazing ride for us, and we’ve been honored to be a part of the Marvel team. As long as there are Iron Man films, and we are invited to contribute, we will be there to make the most amazing suits the big screen can handle. We are so excited to have shared this experience with you, and we hope you enjoy the brief glimpse into the making of this epic. Thanks for checking in, and we’ll hopefully see you on the next one!