Markus, bitten by bat, became the blood leader of the vampires.
For the first Underworld film, the most extensive Vampire make-up had been applied to Bill Nighy to portray the regenerating Viktor after his awakening. Otherwise, the Vampire make-ups in the film consisted in prosthetic teeth and bright blue contact lenses — showing their heritage from Marcus Corvinus. Interestingly enough, Tony Curran — who portrays Marcus in the second film — has red hair and blue eyes, both traits associated with vampires in Romanian folklore (specifically, the strigoi).
For Underworld: Evolution, both Len Wiseman and Patrick Tatopoulos wanted to portray what they called the “ultimate Vampire” to counter William, the primal Werewolf. Within the context of the film, Marcus is hybrid, similarly to Michael — but with predominant Vampire traits that only allow the Lycan DNA to mutate him into a monstrous, bat-like form. “He’s a hybrid creature, like Scott Speedman,” Tatopoulos told MTV.com. “It was [Len’s] choice to push on to the next generation. We wanted to show what would be the ultimate Vampire, the same way you have William as a Werewolf.”
Taking fundamental reference from bats, Tatopoulos devised a vampiric humanoid figure. Particular concern was posed by Marcus’ wings — a trait that, while essential to the visual design, was initially difficult to conceive in a manner that would be successful onscreen. Initial designs conceived Marcus’s hands transforming into bat-like wings. Eventually, Tatopoulos settled on moving the wings to Marcus’s back. By virtue of the Lycan morphing ability, the wings can extend, fold back, and shrink on Marcus’s will. “Underworld has two types of vampires,” Tatopoulos said, “you’ve got the standard ones, which are the sexy, Kate Beckinsale-type… nice little teeth, beautiful eyes… gorgeous. Len talked to me about a Vampire with wings, and we’ve seen that many times [where] the wings are sometimes CG, the guy lands and then you got a couple of big wings dangling — and they look fake very often, because it’s hard to make wings standing behind you look good. I thought that maybe it would be great to make those wings fold back in such a way that you don’t see them when they’re folded, and that’s what we did with this design.”
As Marcus had to be portrayed by practical effects for the most part, the half-unfolded wings provided inspiration for the character’s signature stabbing attack. “When they first unfold, they look almost like spider legs,” Tatopoulos explained, “so what we did was use those and work practically — whenever the vampire wants to attack someone, he uses those arms and just bludgeons the guy, grabs people and kills. Sometimes with limitations on things, you discover the ideas that are actually much more interesting.” Wiseman himself added: “I liked the idea of it being this kind of two-stage thing, where he can use his wings as weapons, or as talons, as well as just wings by themselves.”
Marcus’s monstrous form was portrayed by Tony Curran in extensive make-up. Stunt double Adrian Hein portrayed the character for the most arduous sequences to shoot — such as those that involved harnesses for the flying sequences. When Marcus is first seen in the film, he has just awakened and is still regenerating. With a tight production schedule, Wiseman had to film a test make-up — as the design had not been finalized by the time of shooting. Retroactively, the filmmakers decided that the discrepancies in the appearance could be explained by the fact that Marcus was still regenerating from his slumber of centuries. “We felt that we could do it that way because it’s the first time we see him out of the coffin,” Tatopoulos said in the commentary for the film, “so he’s not completely finished with the transformation.”
Both the first version and the final version of the make-up were sculpted and painted by Steve Wang, who had already sculpted the maquettes based on the concept designs. The special effects team at Tatopoulos Studios devised two versions of the make-up for the actor’s face: one simpler version was used for when Marcus had to snarl and show his teeth; a second version, more complex to apply, was used for scenes of extended dialogue. The full body make-up initially needed four hours to apply, although the process was able to be shortened as production progressed. The make-up was applied by Thom Floutz, Bruce Spaulding Fuller, Mike Fields, and Geoff Redknap. As with the other Vampires and the Lycans, the prosthetic teeth were provided by David Beneke. Black contact lenses were also devised to finalize the appearance of the creature.
Save for the scene where Marcus transforms onscreen, where he is portrayed by Luma Pictures’ digital double, the character in the film was always portrayed by an actor in make-up. Marcus’s wings were devised differently depending on the shot. When the wings are portrayed as half-unfolded — oftentimes stabbing into another character — and static, they are Tatopoulos Studios’ practical extensions of the suit, puppeteered with rods that were erased in post-production. Marcus’s fully-extended wings, however, are the only element of the character to be portrayed wholly by digital effects throughout the film. The digital wings — built by Miguel Ortega in zBrush and rigged in Maya — were composited and rotoscoped with the make-up. The artists at Luma Pictures were aided in lighting and rendering the wings by the make-up itself, which served as essential reference on set.
“Since [Marcus’s] wings had to be large enough to convincingly carry his weight while flying, the major challenge was the simple logistical matter of where to put all that wing [mass] when it did retract, while keeping it real and believable — let alone the typical challenges that come along with a prominent winged character, such as membrane dynamics and geometry penetration,” Payam Shodahai, visual effects supervisor at Luma, said. “During the wing transformations, we had to pull a lot of tricks to reduce the overall volume of the wings to a size that could believably fit into Marcus’s back, without giving an obvious appearance of scaling geometry. For this, we had to custom create a volume deformer for Maya, which allowed us to trigger a series of animated displacement maps and targets controlled by a complex rig. Animation supervisor Cameron Gray and his team of animators could then move the deformer through the wing and watch the membrane retract and wrinkle, which helped in creatively reducing the wing volume, without getting the look of linear scaling. The fully-rendered wings were then integrated into the shots under compositing supervisor Justin Johnsons’s guidance.”
Occasionally, digital wounds, gunshots, and blood were applied in order not to damage the suit, or have to sculpt scarred versions of the make-up — which would have increased both the budget and time for the special effects.
In many of the sequences, such as during the chase-and-fight on the truck, Tony Curran or the stunt double were suspended in mid-air by complex wiring systems, as well as cranes (in the case of the truck scene one such crane was mounted on the truck itself) which were erased in post-production.
Marcus’s death posed particular concern for the director and the digital effects artists. Wiseman’s initial concept was similar to the final version — Marcus being pushed onto the helicopter blades and exploding gruesomely. “Conceptually, the whole time, Len was thinking that we should have him sort of burst into a spray of blood,” said visual effects supervisor at Luma Pictures, Payam Shodahai, “and almost evaporate, but when it comes down to doing that, that’s not necessarily going to look believable.”
Another concern was providing the proper pay-off even when compared to William’s demise. Visual effects supervisor James McQuaide said in a featuredd: “Initially the shot was going to be just Selene throwing Marcus into the helicopter blades and him exploding like a big firework — and the thing that we realized as we got into the cut is the way Michael dispatches William — pulling his head off — was just unbelievable. It’s tremendous what Patrick [Tatopoulos] was able to put together. We needed to do something that would sort of [raise the stakes]. So we had Selene stab him with his talon up through the head. We thought that would be a ‘one-two’ punch, that being the first punch. Then we needed something for the second punch that would somehow make the sequence even grander than William’s death. ”
Beckinsale and Curran (in make-up) were filmed separately against greenscreen and were composited within the scene — which included the on-set footage and digital helicopter blades. As Marcus hits the blades, the practical version is replaced by Luma Pictures’ digital version — which is torn apart. Marcus’s upper body and head fall onto the broken bridge before slipping off was “an idea that came in at the eleventh hour.”
For more images of Marcus, visit the Monster Gallery.