Zack Snyder’s Justice League will be released on HBO Max on March 18 — look for Below the Line‘s review and more next week — but the promotion leading up to the anticipated release of the 4-hour “cut” of filmmaker Zack Snyder‘s superhero epic is going strong. One of the latest promos is a 2-minute fully-CG piece titled The Mother Box Origins that shows off the work of design studio, yU+co.
yU+co drew inspiration from Renaissance Masters to create an evocative piece packed with clues and symbolic imagery that chronicles the journey to rest Snyder’s original vision for the film. It features the six heroes that make up the Justice League — Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Cyborg, Aquaman and The Flash — in the form of classically-styled bas relief sculptures molded into the side of “Mother Boxes,” mythical change machines featured in the film’s plot. Other hints are provided by scores of Easter eggs woven throughout, all derived from Snyder’s own sketches. The Mother Box Origins was envisioned and fashioned as a standalone promo to appeal to the diehard fans that have spent years requesting to see Snyder’s vision realized.
Director Adrian Yu explains, “The idea is to evoke the origins of the film’s heroes by relating them to religious figures and the love and tragedy of Greek mythology. The Cyborg image was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. Half human, half-machine, Cyborg is the lynchpin that ties the story together.” He cites his influences, adding that Wonder Woman’s image is styled after Botticelli’s Birth of Venus., the Batman relief is modeled after Perugino’s 1495 painting of the martyrdom of St. Sebastian. The piece ends as the Mother Boxes fuse in a symbolic act of unity before exploding to reveal the film’s title.
The piece went through considerable evolution as Snyder provided yU+co’s creative team with his own drawings that collectively embody his past DC films. The intricate drawings reference storylines, backstories of the characters and events immediately recognizable by the director’s legions of fans. They include the gun that was used to kill Batman’s parents; the tombstone of Nora Allen, mother of The Flash; and the farmhouse where Clark Kent grew up. The piece also contains clues that refer to the film’s development process itself, representing storylines and character moments that never actually made it into production. At the IGN Fan Fest panel where the piece was debuted, Snyder advised fans to take “a long, slow look” to catch all the hidden references.
The sequence is set to the somber Tom Waits song Time. The wistful ballad provides a powerful counterpoint to the dense visuals with its simple rhythm and descriptive lyrics. “There is a sense of emotion and love in this sequence that resonates with the song in a very special way,” recalls Yu.
yU+co brought in Australian ZBrush artist Farzad Maleki to sculpt the digital bas relief sculptures. The studio’s artists then spent weeks building and animating sequences. “We needed to craft a path that takes viewers on a journey through the living history of these heroes,” says producer Johnny Ellsworth. “Everything you see is designed to celebrate Zack Snyder’s original vision.” The finished piece serves as not just a tribute to his DC films, but also a cathartic nod to the Director’s personal and emotional history with the project.
yU+co has a history of collaboration with Zack Snyder. The studio created main title sequences for the director’s films 300 and Watchmen. “Adrian came up with a great concept that captures the essence of these iconic characters and Zack’s epic vision,” says yU+co Creative Director Garson Yu. “Looking back at our relationship with him and all the emotions and history wrapped up in the project, it was important to me and my team that we do our part to help Zack package his film properly.”
You can watch The Mother Box Origins below.
All photos courtesy yU+co. Click on images for larger versions.