Barry Allen found himself facing off against any number of colorful, larger-than-life adversaries in the first season of The Flash. With a beefier special effects budget than most TV shows, he found himself up against human tornadoes, a super-powered pyromaniac, and – perhaps most memorably – a huge, psychic, talking gorilla.
Out of all the ridiculous concepts that appear throughout The Flash, it was Gorilla Grodd that was the most difficult to pull off. A bit of dodgy CGI, too scenery-chewing a performance, would have sunk him. Encore VFX, the team who brought Grodd to life, have just unveiled an effects reel, which demonstrates quite what a challenge the simian supervillain really was.
The clip, seen above, runs through the painstaking process of making a fully-computer generated character like Grodd feel real. Encore go so far as to model the ape's vital organs, nestled beneath his digital skeleton, so as to better simulate realistic movements and gestures by the finished character. That's before the company started messing around with hair, skin, lights, and getting him to interact (read: punch) real-life actors.
In fact the before-and-after special effects comparison for episode twenty-one of The Flash's first season, “Grodd Lives”, shows just how much work Encore VFX put into the show (and certainly puts paid to the awards they won off the back of it). Along with making Grodd a convincing super-smart, chatty simian, they also render impossible sets and making Grant Gustin run really, really fast.
Grodd was a highlight of the first season of The Flash, which wasn't exactly wanting in terms of iconic villains translated to live action with considerable aplomb. More so than perhaps any other DC superhero, Barry Allen's rogues gallery is full of ridiculous characters whose gimmicks border on the pantomime. That The CW adaptation has done so well at making them credible, convincing and menacing presences without ever getting all dark and gritty - that's something to celebrate.
There's no word on whether Gorilla Grodd will be returning for the second season of The Flash, but ex-WWE star Adam “Edge” Copeland has been cast as comic book villain as Atom-Smasher, and Michael Ironside will be appearing as Captain Cold's father, suggesting a return for that icy presence at least. Hopefully Grodd hasn't gone all high-and-mighty from his success and is demanding a raise in the bananas he's paid...
The Flash season 2 begins airing on The CW in Fall 2015, along with Arrow season 4. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow will air on The CW during the 2015-16 season.
Source: Encore VFX