Q&A with Andy Park, Marvel Studios' God of the Pen

April 23, 2018

Although Captain Marvel is not due in theaters until 2019, the road to the Marvel Cinematic Universe's first female-led movie is fraught with hellish villains.

Last year saw Chris Hemsworth's Thor squaring off against the MCU's first female baddie: Cate Blanchett as Hela.

The man suffusing the screen with such empowered women is none other than Marvel Studios' visual development supervisor Andy Park. The illustrious Korean-American concept artist oversees the team helping Marvel comic book characters make the high-stakes journey from print to live action.

Park, who had paid his dues illustrating for various Marvel titles as well as the Tomb Raider comic books, has been designing concept art for Marvel Studios since 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger.

In the run-up to this week's release of Avengers: Infinity War, he and several other leading artists at Marvel Studios are engrossed with the release of a companion art book, The Road to Infinity War.

Park, a former concept artist for the God of War games, will loose his art next on July's Ant-Man and The Wasp and next year's highly anticipated Brie Larson vehicle.

In this exclusive interview with Cautionary Women, Park looks back on his groundbreaking work with the Asgardian goddess of death and toward the future of female representation in the MCU.

Can you tell us about your design process for Hela?

I truly had the most fun designing Hela for Thor: Ragnarok. Her look from the comic books is so extreme and wicked with her headdress, costume, and overall evil appearance. It’s always fun designing villains. As with all of the characters we design here at Marvel Studios, we start by looking at the source material. Hela has been depicted in various ways by great comic book artists such as Jack Kirby, Walter Simonsson, Alan Davis, and Olivier Coipel, among others. I use that as a starting point. And I try to figure out how to bring a reality to the character. Things that look great in a comic book doesn’t always translate to real life. So I have to conceptualize how to bring her look to real life. What do I include and what do I change? And of course the story we tell will necessitate how I design her.

To what extent did you veer from the comic-book version in bringing Hela to the screen?

Taika Waititi really wanted to capture the look and feel from the comics, particularly from Jack Kirby. This whole movie was essentially a dedication to the comic book great. So he really pushed me to try to capture the essence of her comic book look. I was happy to oblige.

Let's talk about Hela's stunning headdress. At what point did you decide the version as it appears on the movie was right?

I did dozens upon dozens of variations on her headdress. That is what it takes for them (the director and producers) to finally decide on what is the right look for Hela’s “antlers.” I tried everything, big and small, to simple and elaborate. It was quite a journey to finally land on her final look(s).

Did Cate have any input on the costume?

As far as I know Cate didn’t really have any input on the costume. She was the epitome of perfect casting. Her performance was amazing and she embodied the character of Hela.

Which female villains in the Marvel universe are you looking forward to work on?

Not on purpose by any means, but I did end up designing a lot of the female characters in the MCU from Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Gamora, Nebula, Mantis, Wasp, Hela to the upcoming Captain Marvel.  It’s an honor to design any of these powerful women and I look forward to the many more in the future.

Learn more about Andy at AndyParkArt.com

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