What Gamora Almost Looked Like In The MCU

Taking a comics character from the printed
page to the big screen isn’t as easy as you might think, and Guardians of the Galaxy’s
Gamora was no exception. Just ask Charlie Wen, former head of visual
development at Marvel Studios, and take a look at some of the designs that didn’t make
the cut. Before 2014, there’s a good chance that if
you said the phrase “Guardians of the Galaxy” to your average moviegoer, their reaction
would be pretty similar across the board: “Who the hell are you guys?” And that’s exactly what Charlie Wen was banking
on when he started adapting the characters from Marvel Comics’ long history of spacefaring
weirdos for Guardians of the Galaxy. “Nobody knew what Guardians was. It’s very niche. And so, what was great was it also left it
so that we could do a lot with it. If you upset some of the hardcore fans, maybe
it’s okay because there’s not as many of them. Ya know? What it did do is it allowed for a lot of
exploration to create a Marvel Space Odyssey.” That freedom to experiment is probably why
the screen version of Gamora, as well as the concept art Wen created, has very little in
common with the comic book depictions that have appeared in the pages of Marvel Comics
over the years. Some comic book characters are relatively
easy to adapt to the screen, at least when it comes to knowing what to keep and what
to junk. Batman, Spider-Man, and Wonder Woman may have
outlandish comic book outfits, but they also feature iconic details that make them recognizable. Captain America without his shield and super-outfit
suddenly becomes a guy who’s a little too excited every July Fourth. And Wolverine without his claws is just your
hairy Uncle Lou, back with another case of Molson. Gamora, by contrast, doesn’t really have any
features that truly define her look in the minds of comic book fans, and that presented
a major design challenge for the team. Where do you begin? For Wen, it started with archetypes… but
it didn’t end there. “As an archetype, she’s this, ya know, lone
assassin that functions on her own. You start there, but then I think you really
need to add in those elements that she needs to service.” While this concept art doesn’t seem too out
there, it also doesn’t really communicate many ideas about who Gamora is or what she
wants or needs. Gamora’s adventuring gear seems like she’s
ready for battle, but we can’t tell much about her character beyond that. According to Wen, an essential part of the
design process comes not simply from picking the right look for the right character. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. “When you’re trying to write some kind of
story, paint an image, one of the things that you do first is you figure out what your limits
are. The farthest you’re gonna go, where are you
gonna start with, and so it’s your contrast. What is your contrast?” That idea of establishing the contrast is
clearly at play in this concept art, where we see Gamora looking a whole lot different
from any of her depictions, either onscreen or on the page. Wen led the team about as far away as they
could from the comics, just to see how far they could stretch the idea of Gamora before
it broke down. With her purple skin, weirdly tapered ears,
and her dimpled, mostly bald skull, these versions of Gamora definitely have a passing
resemblance to her adopted dad, Thanos. But she feels a lot more unsettling and creepy
than you might expect for a big-budget Marvel movie hero. As Wen directed his team to continue exploring
different looks for Gamora’s onscreen appearance, they started moving in interesting new directions. Case in point: this light-purple version of
Gamora, whose skin features some of the intricate markings that would become a part of the final
design’s signature look. More importantly, however, is the expression
on her face, which seems to express a lot more of what might be going on inside her
head. Wen told us that Kevin Feige was very interested
in this particular look for Gamora. But ultimately they decided it was more difficult
to pull off the intricate tech on her face than it was worth. As Gamora’s look evolved, her character began
to emerge in the concept art Charlie Wen created. In these images, we see two similar settings
and scenarios for the character, Gamora in a crowded sci-fi locale, surrounded by aliens
and other outer space weirdness. But you can see that even though the Gamora
in this image is undoubtedly cool and on the hunt, this other one that looks lost in thought
seems to have a lot more in common with the version of the character we got in Guardians
of the Galaxy. “You know, she’s this super assassin that’s
from a different alien race, and connected with Thanos, Ronan, Nebula. So, she’s got, again, she’s got her own dysfunctional
family to worry about. She has to have certain vulnerabilities, even
in just her look. You can’t just go for this ninja, right, that’s
all covered and everything. There’s a part of her that is exposed. I think the word vulnerable paints it a little
bit better. Also that she needs to be a character that
you can relate to, because she’s gonna have that kind of connection with Peter Quill,
you know, later on.” While this image still doesn’t look a ton
like the finalized look for Gamora, her purple skin is a dead giveaway, it still manages
to express more about the character and the world of Guardians of the Galaxy than any
of the previous versions. Seeing Gamora at the bar with her Cheshire
Cat grin seems to make her look dangerous and deadly… but also ready to get drunk
thanks to the four-armed barkeep right behind her. What’s most important is that this version
of Gamora has tons of personality. That’s the most important part when designing
meaningful characters that audiences will spend a lot of time with. “How do you make her feel like a character
that you would really feel for if something happens to her?” Considering how fans reacted when she died
at the hands of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, it goes without saying that Wen and the
team he led at Marvel Studios completely succeeded in answering that particular question. Check out one of our newest videos right here. Plus, even more exclusive Looper videos with
Charlie Wen about the creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and hit
the bell so you don’t miss a single one.

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