Despite all expectations, the universe did not implode when compiling the following list of some of the more obscure but still legally obtained and referenced behind-the-scenes production photos from movie sets. Normally, thespians in masks are filmed acting out the stories of heroes and villains that mostly live double lives, as costumed super humans on one hand and unmasked, anonymous citizens on the other. Instead, what came out of an extensive search is a collection of less common images from behind the studio magic of the men and women behind the masks.
The images listed and described here range from decades old “analog” photographs that had to be developed with chemicals and tools in a darkroom, to shots from the most recent works by Marvel and Disney studios, some showing cast members pre- and post-CG magic. They were chosen either because they did not show up on the first few pages of a Google image search, are just plain cool glimpses behind the heavy makeup, costumes and special effects, or have some nostalgic or sentimental value to superhero movie fans everywhere. Here are 13 Amazing Behind The Scenes Photos From Your Favorite Superhero Movies.
13. TMNT Reboot (Megan Fox And Raphael)
It never occurred to me until I saw this behind-the-scenes photograph that the actors who play the turtles in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are not as big or tall as their hulking CG half-shelled bodies appear. Michael Bay’s live action TMNT reboots may reek of his over-killed epic electric light show style, but it is the emotional tone set by actors good enough to convincingly fight alongside or against a pair of motion capture “googly eyes” that really gives these films heart.
12. Cavill Upon Kent
With two Justice League movies in pre-production, Henry Cavill will join Christopher Reeve as a 4-movie Superman. This behind the scenes photograph shows Cavill “flying” the green screen skies as the Man of Steel, for a scene in the film of the same name.
Admittedly, the thought occurs that with the power of post-production wizardry ramping up in recent years, any scene that involves suspending the UK actor in front of a green screen (especially those scenes where he is also sporting Superman’s classic one-fist-forward in-flight stance) could (have) be(en) used interchangeably between 2013’s Man of Steel and 2016’s Batman v Superman.
11. Loki: Hates Thor, Loves Kids
Tom Hiddleston, who plays Loki the villainous trickster of Norse mythology and Marvel Comics (featuring in both installments of the Thor series and in The Avengers) is one of the few actors who have gained as much fangirl attention playing a handsome evildoer as his superhero co-stars. It is not only his good looks that have won over male and female fans of the Cambridge-educated actor, but also his positivity on set and generosity with fans as evidenced by these images of Loki (left) talking to co-star Mark Ruffalo’s son who Hiddleston claims inspired his performances on The Avengers, and taking a picture with a fan’s child in NYC.
10. The Amazing Spider-Man
This backstage pass image may not be mind blowing but it makes the list on a technicality at least, as it is from the set of the first film in the Amazing Spider-Man series. This behind the scenes photograph speaks to both Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone’s acting chops to see her play a convincingly awestruck Gwen Stacy in the arms of Garfield as her super powered, web headed boyfriend, “swinging” through a scaled down and only partially built up NYC night sky-scape. There must be something amazing and surreal about making ends meet by literally sweeping gorgeous women off their feet.
9. The Original TMNT
No, this is not a particularly timely behind the scenes photo and, in fact, it is most likely a Polaroid (which for modern day “hipsters” is like if your camera-phones actually printed your Instagram posts on plastic film and you could only ever use a filter that harkened back to the darkroom days of the 70s). This image made the list exactly because it is an amazing look back at the days when audiences were bludgeoned with the fourth wall-shattering fact that our favorite heroes wear fabricated shells.
8. Keaton, Nicholson, & Burton: The Calm Before The Fame
By now, five actors (Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale and Ben Affleck) have played the leather-winged guardian angel of Gotham City, Batman, while three actors (Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and Jared Leto) have played his lunatic arch-nemesis, the Joker. Here we see director Tim Burton talking to the first (1989) incarnations of the famous masked vigilante and his villainous harlequin-inspired foil. This image is one of the few photographs buried in the Web that documents the creation of the Batman that launched a superhero film franchise still going strong twenty-seven years later.
7. Eckhart as Two-Face
Most likely due to the fact that the Batman story grew out of graphic pulp detective novels, DC Comics’ Gotham City and Metropolis are overpopulated with masked murderers and bad guys with deformities to match their twisted ways, as well as superhuman vigilantes and rogue cops whose loved ones would come to harm if their true identities were ever found out. The villain Two-Face epitomizes this theme in the DC comic/cinematic universe and Aaron Eckhart, seen here looking handsome with a fake half-burnt scalp, plays the role of this horrifically twisted character perfectly.
6. Schumacher And Schwarzenegger
Tim Burton, Joel Schumacher and Christopher Nolan all took cracks at bringing the Caped Crusader to life on the big screen, and one of these series’ is not like the other. Schumacher was criticized for changing the feel so drastically from Burton’s gritty Gotham atmosphere, adding nipples to the body armor of heroes and villains alike and bringing in a neon Mardi Gras-meets-street art aesthetic. He even introduced a healthy dose of slapstick sensibility reminiscent of Adam West’s original portrayal of the Bat. Here, the director is seen taking a break from the flamboyant action alongside Mr. Freeze (played by Schwarzenegger) in full makeup and costume.
5. Fight Scene In Captain America: Winter Soldier
This behind-the-scenes shot made the list more because it is obscure rather than because it is amazingly revealing of the contrast between makeup and actor or because it explains the smoke and mirrors behind epic action movie moments. In fact, this photograph highlights the exact opposite element of the superhero action sequence: meticulously coordinated hand-to-hand combat sped up and made epic through editing; you can almost hear the sad echoes of scuffling, panting and barely audible clicks of camera equipment as Chris Evans and his henchman attempt their own stunts.
4. Win A Free Trip To Castle Greyskull
Despite the movie being a critical flop, one would assume contest winner Richard Szponder (pictured here on the set of 1987’s Masters of the Universe with the classically trained septuagenarian actor Frank Langella in costume as Skeletor with sidekick Evil-Lyn) was probably ecstatic to be mingling with the formerly hand-drawn and animated denizens of Eternia. Hell, any child raised during the 1980s, which saw a boom of big screen adaptations of Saturday morning cartoons would feel lucky. Still, in an interview twenty years later, a grown Szponder said he was slightly disappointed to find the set differed so much from his childhood toys.
3. Mark Ruffalo, Smash!
Standing at 5’ 8’’, Wisconsin-born actor and activist Mark Ruffalo is pictured here playing that not-so-jolly green, gamma irradiated giant the Hulk. Apparently it’s not so intimidating when people make him angry and the computer nerds have not added that extra ton of enraged muscle around his normal-sized frame. It turns out most super suits and superhumanly proportioned bodies we see in our favorite films (from the suit of the Iron Man films to Thomas Haden Church’s expansive dirt-based body as Sandman in Spider-Man 3), are added “in post” these days.
2. Iron Man And War Machine Await Whiplash
Here we see Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and the War Machine (Don Cheadle) on the set of Iron Man 2 in skimpy costumes made up of motion capture “suits”-a.k.a.-stickers and bare bones, plastic helmets—and then, in the same image (thanks .gif magic), wearing their bad-ass computer generated cybernetic battle suits. In this near final scene of the film, protagonist Tony Stark and his rogue military sidekick are about to face off against an army of Iron Man drones followed by the disgruntled soviet, Ivan Vanko a.k.a. Whiplash, played by the barely made-up but still beaten up-looking Mickey Rourke.
1. Chris Nolan’s Batmen
Given that director Chris Nolan’s chapters in the big screen Batman chronicles are the bleakest in the bunch, this candid behind-the-scenes photograph shows the three most seasoned cast members of The Dark Knight series sharing a nice hearty, genuine laugh is a welcome look behind the gloom and doom of Gotham. Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman and Michael Cain respectively play Lucius Fox, the discrete mechanical genius responsible for Christian Bale’s Batman’s arsenal, the Caped Crusader’s eternal cheerleader Jim Gordon, and alter ego Bruce Wayne’s butler and moral compass, Alfred. These are serious roles for serious actors who thankfully can have a not-so-serious laugh, too.