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Looking back on the inaugural season of The Flash, it’s clear that the show more than delivered in terms of spectacle for the ever-expanding DC Comics television universe. In fact, some of the more wow-inspiring moments saw the gigantic, telepathy-utilizing primate Grodd come to life. Now, one of the people behind this amazing effects achievement dishes on why Grodd was just so good.
Armen Kevorkian, a visual effects supervisor on The Flash, revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that the team was able to pull off Grodd with such realism due to having the luxury of time. Upon completion of the pilot, Kevorkian and his team were given a long-term heads-up that Grodd would be a part of the show later in the season. The warning gave them quite a bit of time to more thoughtfully develop the CGI model.
Fortunately for the development process of the Grodd character, there would be plenty of time for research, as Kevorkian and his team would base the digital creation on a mix of source material from real gorillas and the pages of DC Comics in which the character, formally known as “Gorilla Grodd,” has been a longtime staple of the company’s collective rogues gallery. According to Kevorkian:
We referenced both the comic book — for his size and personality — and footage of gorillas to ground it in reality. Grodd’s around 8 feet tall and about 800 pounds. He also has telepathic powers, so facial expressions were really important to get across what he was trying to convey.
The result was a nightmarish, sewer-dwelling, monstrous amalgam of a monster taking the form of a hulking, stalking (literal) 800-lb gorilla in the room. His bulky, sinew-strewn look strategically walks the line between an exaggerated comic-book-esque physique and a realism that effectively sends the message that this bipedal beast could rip a man in two like a string of licorice. Additionally, the scenes in which Barry Allen/The Flash engages in epic battle with Grodd throughout the sewers and subway tunnels were able to be accomplished with a photoreal double of star, Grant Gustin. While it may be a less of an organic approach, it also eliminates the coldness the we see from actors trying to react to nonexistent elements in front of a green screen.
Having started with sporadic seeds hinted as early as the show’s pilot, the big battle between Barry and Grodd in episode 21, “Grodd Lives,” was the perfect culmination of all those months of planning. Adding the enclosed claustrophobic setting of the sewer, which Grodd calls home, there’s an especially ominous tone that perfectly complements this massive, but elusive visual effects masterwork of the character. In the nuances of terror, there is “creepy scary” and “enormous scary.” With Grodd, Kevorkian and the crew managed to accomplish both.
The Flash returns for Season 2 on the currently not-so-flashy date of October 6. However, with so many canon-connected platforms like Arrow and the upcoming duel-show spinoff, Legends of Tomorrow, the possibilities regarding the savagely intelligent comic book A-lister’s rampaging return are numerous.