Spoilers ahead for Vol. 1 of the fourth season of Stranger Things on Netflix.
Stranger Things delivered a very different kind of villain in Season 4 with Vecna, who isn’t part of the Mind Flayer’s army and has the power to pick off victims in Hawkins while based in the Upside Down. The show used practical effects to transform actor Jamie Campbell Bower into Vecna, whose look might have reminded Game of Thrones fans of the Night King. According to prosthetics makeup designer Barrie Gower in an interview with CinemaBlend, that’s no coincidence, as the Night King inspired Vecna in some key ways.
Barrie Gower and the prosthetics team from the BGFX makeup effects company created Vecna’s look with effects that involved more than 20 pieces that were applied to Jamie Campbell Bower, who went prosthetics-free when playing One before being banished to the Upside Down by Eleven. It took between six and nine hours to complete Bower’s transformation into Vecna, whose similarities to the Night King stem from Gower’s previous work on Game of Thrones. Speaking with CinemaBlend, the prosthetics makeup designer explained the connection between Vecna and the Night King:
Like millions of people all over the world, Matt and Ross Duffer – who created Stranger Things – were evidently fans of Game of Thrones who loved the look of the Night King, who was one of the primary villains of the final season. Barrie Gower and his team also worked on Chernobyl, which didn’t involve any mythological creatures but did involve radiation burns in adapting the real-life story of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
One certainly looked like he was being exposed to an Upside Down version of radiation when he was sent through what seemed to be the first-ever gate, and the finished product was more reminiscent of the Night King than Jamie Campbell Bower. I would argue that Vecna is even scarier than the Night King at this point in Season 4, so the Duffers recruiting Barrie Gower and his team – who also transformed Nightmare on Elm Street’s Robert Englund into Victor Creel – certainly paid off. Gower continued:
The Upside Down is even more perilous than ever in Season 4, to the point that breathing in the air down there isn’t even on the list of concerns for Steve, Nancy, Robin, and Eddie after going through Watergate. The Demo-Bats (whose sounds have some surprising origins) were an immediate threat, and then Vecna got Nancy when she was just on the verge of returning to her normal Hawkins.
Whether or not Nancy emerges unscathed (or at all) from Vecna’s grip in the Upside Down remains to be seen; Max was saved by her friends and a Kate Bush song, so it’s not impossible for people with no powers to at least temporarily defeat him. Only Vol. 2 of Season 4 will deliver all the answers. Fans with a Netflix subscription can find out what happens next when Vol. 2 of Stranger Things (opens in new tab) Season 4 releases on Friday, July 1 at 12:01 a.m. PT on Netflix.
Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.
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