Gods aren't something new to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The franchise has dabbled in mythology since the arrival of Thor in 2011, before switching pantheons and diving head-first into the world of Egyptian mythology in 2022's Moon Knight. While Khonshu, the Egyptian god of the moon, was feautured prominently throughout, the series also introduced Tawaret and Ammit.
Martin Hill and his crew at New Zealand's Wētā FX were behind the development of the Ammit model used in the series, and we recently sat down with the visual effects supervisor to chat about the creation of the character. On set, Ammit was played by Sofia Danu, who served as the motion reference actor for the Wētā team to model the character after.
"I think the main issues with Ammit was not only we couldn't find a talking crocodile," Hill jokes. "But crocodiles have a very rigid head structure. They have one jaw pivot which is essentially a clapperboard, and they have no lips, which makes it just slightly different to talk. Also their tongue is completely stuck to the bottom of their mouth, something I discovered during this production."
Hill says that posed a challenge as the filmmakers behind the series wanted to keep the character grounded and sinister while avoiding the danger of turning the god into a caricature.
"We were very conscious that we needed to make her look sinister and we had to be able to emote properly, but we also knew in the dialogue even early on that she'd had some fairly compassionate lines, she had to plead with Oscar through one of the scenes," Hill adds.
To combat that, the team took certain liberties when building out the character's mouth, including the building of fake musculature and location of the character's teeth compared to crocodiles found out in the wild.
"It was a case of making everything subtle enough that it was convincing," the artist continues. "Fortunately all the fight stuff works, crocodiles look pretty mean, so the fight expression was quite easy, but it was all the more slightly sympathetic, slightly pleading emotions that were harder to capture. One of the things we did from the artwork was turned her eyes into something more human, it instantly clicked her over into a place where you feel like you see the window to the soul sort of thing, you can see her emoting underneath that."
In case you were curious — yes, each tooth was meticulously modeled from the ground up. Not only that, but the model also included hand-crafted sockets for the teeth to sit in.
"Because she's such a one off character and we were doing the fine sculpting, Crystal, our lead modeler, and Nick, who was the model before her, were really taking lots of very subtle sculptural changes to really find her form," Hill concludes. "So, we just wanted full artistry rather than any kind of procedural methods for it."
Moon Knight is now streaming in its entirety on Disney+."
What did you think of the live-action debut of the Fist of Khonshu? Let us know your thoughts either in the comments section or by hitting our writer @AdamBarnhardt up on Twitter to chat all things MCU!
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