Thanos' Army in Avengers: Endgame Almost Included Dark Elves, Plus the Inclusion of Howard the Duck in the Scene
The whole battle scene in Avengers: Endgame was so epic and so massive in scope, it was really difficult to absorb the first time around. It’s been cool to hear about the Easter eggs and things I missed, because it just seems like there was so much cool stuff packed it, you really need a guide. In a recent interview with slashfilm, Matt Aitken, the visual effects supervisor for Weta Digital, the company responsible for the visual effects in Endgame‘s final battle, opened up about some of the things we saw, as well as something we could have seen.
So Thanos’s army, we see the Chitauri, we see the Outriders, I think there were some other forces that we hadn’t really seen before. Can you tell me about them, and if they had any names that the Russo brothers or the screenwriters gave to you guys?
Yeah, so there’s the Sakaarans, and I think we see them first in Guardians 1, on Morag. They’re kind of the ground troops who were trying to stop Quill when he grabs the Power Stone and escapes from Morag. So they’re there. We’ve got the Outriders. The majority of the Outriders this time have actually got two legs and six arms, so they’re actually eight-limbed creatures. There were a few of those in the Battle of Wakanda in Infinity War in the ILM sequences there, but in terms of upping the ante, most of them were the eight-limbed variety for Endgame. There’s the Chitauri and their chariots, of course, from the Battle of New York from The Avengers. At one point, there were going to be – potentially dark elves were going to show up, they didn’t make an appearance.
But the guys who are new are particularly the Chitauri gorillas. We see the Chitauri leading them out by chains and then they set them free. These are not quite King Kong sized, but yeah, giant gorilla-ish, alien gorilla creatures who are a formidable force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. We got 2D concept art for those guys, worked them up in CG – we’ve done one or two gorilla creatures in the past, so we’ve got a little bit of experience there – and they were great fun to do. Great fun to fight with, and then great fun to kill off.
You mentioned the dark elves. Were there any other big moments like that which you were sad to see get cut?
The dark elves were mentioned, but we never got as far as rigging them or making them for the battle.
He also went on to talk about the easily miss-able cameo of Howard the Duck that most fans didn’t see the first time around, and what went into putting him in the shot.
“[Howard] was actually mentioned in the very first draft of a screenplay that I ever got to read for Endgame, which did change a lot. That was 2016 I think, was when I first got to read a very rough early draft. He was mentioned in the end battle in that early draft, so I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, Howard the Duck’s going to be in the end battle!’ If Howard the Duck is in there, that means everybody’s going to be in there, right?
“He ended up not featuring in the end battle, but very late in the day – and I think it might have come from Kevin Feige, actually – we got the note that if there was a chance to get Howard the Duck in. There was this one little gap when the Ravagers were coming out of Contraxia where there was room to drop him in, and he wouldn’t be too obvious, which is good. It was the way they wanted to play it. It would involve us essentially building and rigging and shading and prepping a hero digital character for one tiny little beat. I’ve counted, he’s actually in eighteen frames of the film. So it’s not like a huge presence. That’s a lot of work for a small amount of time. But we were so delighted to be able to do that, and what we heard that when we sent the shot through and it was reviewed in the screening room at Marvel with the filmmakers, they were all clapping and cheering to see Howard.”
That’s so much fun! One of the best parts of the MCU for fans is all the Easter eggs, references, and nods to the massive universe it’s all a part of.
What was your favorite background character at the battle? Would you have like to have seen the Dark Elves included in the scene?