Neal Scanlan, the creature designer for Rian Johnson's Stars Wars: The Last Jedi, is returning for Episode 9. Scanlan's return is good news for Star Wars fans who enjoyed the designs for the many alien species that were introduced into the Star Wars world in The Last Jedi, particularly the porgs, who became fan-favorites before the movie was even released.
The award-winning creature designer has worked in the field of special effects and animatronics since the 1980s. Scanlan's work on Babe in 1996 earned him an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. Scanlan's first Star Wars project came in 2015 with The Force Awakens, which resulted in a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Achievement in Visual Effects. Scanlan also worked on Prometheus and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Scanlan will also return for the second Stars Wars spin-off film, Solo: A Star Wars Story, which is slated to release in May of this year.
Omega Underground reports that Neal Scanlan will be back for J.J. Abrams' Stars Wars: Episode IX to once again oversee the creature shop. Several of Scanlan's designs in The Last Jedi have met with positive reactions from both the fans and critics.
Scanlan's most popular creation is of course the porgs, the small "fish-bird aliens" living on the island with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). The cuteness of the creatures have inspired tons of porg merchandise. Their popularity has reached a point where the porgs now have their own social media emojis.
The porgs weren't the only creatures Scanlan and his team have designed for The Last Jedi. The vulptexes, or "the crystal foxes", were designed using animatronics puppets based on dogs combined with 25,000 crystals. The fathiers, the horse-like aliens used by Finn and Rose to escape the enemy, have also been a subject of praise for their photorealistic grace and beauty. In addition to creatures, Scanlan's team is also responsible for designing the small droid, BB-8, who debuted in The Force Awakens.
It should be noted that the creatures of The Last Jedi are not present in the film simply for visual effects. Instead of existing only in the background, the vulptexes and the fathiers had important roles to play in the plot. Fans will have to wait and see if Scanlan's involvement in Episode IX will lead to the creation of yet another beloved alien.
Source: Omega Underground
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