New releases showcase the artwork behind superhero films Justice League and Thor: Ragnarok


DC Entertainment and Marvel Studios offered superhero genre fans live-action adaptations of some of the comic book world’s best-loved superheroes last year.  The concept artwork behind each of DC’s Justice League and Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok are the subject of two new books for fans wanting to dig deeper into the development of these films: Justice League: The Art of the Film, by Abbie Bernstein, and The Art of Thor: Ragnarok, by Eleni Roussos.  Both share the feature of being primarily photographic essays, visual guides illustrating the phases of characters and environments leading to the final art design used in the films.  So both will make good souvenir or coffee table books in addition to showcasing the artists’ visions for film aficionados and comic book fans.

Justice League: The Art of the Film is a 206-page, full-color, hardcover book similar to last year’s Wonder Woman: The Art and Making of the Film.  This volume gives much attention to the variety of costumes created for the film, particularly the looks of the new characters to the film series, Aquaman, The Flash, and Cyborg.  Cyborg’s cybernetics were added in post-production via CGI.  This is not so much a behind-the-scenes, detailed account with interviews about the production as we’ve seen in other volumes, but it does include statements from each of the key actors and production members peppered throughout the photographs  The layout of pages and overall design is stylized keeping with the themes of the story.

An excerpt from Justice League: The Art of the Film.

Well-designed with gorgeous concept art, The Art of Thor: Ragnarok is a hefty 320 pages in a slipcase holder, featuring classic Jack Kirby art on the book cover inside the dust jacket.  Kirby’s designs can be found as inspiration throughout the film, and are reflected in the concept art and design work, particularly that found in the fantastical world of Sakaar.  Each of the key characters you’d expect get plenty of coverage.  Readers will find hundreds of images of Mayes C. Rubeo’s costume designs for Thor, Hulk, Hela, Loki, Odin, Skurge, and the Grandmaster, as well as supporting characters.  The fiery Surtur has a surprisingly thorough section, showing the various stages that resulted in the finished look seen in the film.

Artwork from the back cover of The Art of Thor: Ragnarok.  Artwork by Andy Park.

In the Justice League book you’ll find much attention given to the “Mother Boxes” featured in the story, including detailed design images.  Less attention is given to the film’s villain, Steppenwolf.  The book follows the story, revealing a chronological account of the film so readers who haven’t yet seen the film will encounter some spoilers along the way.

The additional 100 pages in the Thor: Ragnarok book comprises coverage of the environments in paintings and digital renderings, taking the concepts from decades of the comic books and translating them to live action.

An excerpt from Justice League: The Art of the Film.

Although he is not referenced in the book by the production artists, Alex Ross’s works permeate many designs and layouts in Justice League, creating a more modern look from the comics, while Thor: Ragnarok looks back to the early comic book roots for its inspiration.

Cosplayers of superhero characters will find plenty of ideas and reference material in both volumes.  A fun addition to the libraries of fans of each film, Justice League: The Art of the Film is available here, and The Art of Thor: Ragnarok is available here, both at Amazon.

C.J. Bunce

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