How the ‘Jus­tice League’ crew built Bat­man’s Flying Fox

Cecil Whig - - JUMPSTART - By JOSH ROTTENBERG Los An­ge­les Times

Rid­dle me this, Bat­man: How do you trans­port five su­per­heroes, none of whom pos­sess flying abil­i­ties, around the world to bat­tle evil in the most ef­fi­cient (and cool-look­ing) man­ner?

For Warner Bros.’ su­per­hero mash-up “Jus­tice League” — which opens Nov. 17 and brings Bat­man (Ben Af­fleck), Won­der Woman (Gal Gadot), Aqua­man (Ja­son Mo­moa), the Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cy­borg (Ray Fisher) to­gether to save the world from a vil­lain called Step­pen­wolf (Ciaran Hinds) — the job of work­ing that out fell largely to pro­duc­tion de­signer Patrick Tatopou­los.

The re­sult? Bat­man’s new­est ve­hi­cle, a mas­sive trans­port plane with the ma­neu­ver­abil­ity and fire­power of a fighter jet, dubbed the Flying Fox.

The Flying Fox be­gan as a series of sketches by the Parisian-born Tatopou­los, as he tried to find an over­all de­sign that would nod to clas­sic planes like the Har­rier jet while show­cas­ing the bold, bru­tal­ist aes­thetic of the Dark Knight.

Tatopou­los’ first ma­jor brain­storm: shift­ing the cock­pit back from its usual spot near the nose of the plane. “That lit­tle move­ment made it spe­cial,” said Tatopou­los, who also served as pro­duc­tion de­signer on last year’s “Bat­man v Su­per­man: Dawn of Jus­tice.” “It started to make it more like the Bat­mo­bile.”

Phys­i­cally con­struct­ing the en­tire jet was deemed un­nec­es­sary given the magic of CGI. But Tatopou­los and his team de­signed and built a full-scale three-level in­te­rior, with a bot­tom cargo area big enough to eas­ily fit the Bat­mo­bile and a slew of do­good­ers, a mid­dle floor packed with tech (“like a Bat­cave in flight”) and an up­per-level cock­pit — mak­ing sure to give it all a slightly roughedup qual­ity. “You can tell it’s used,” Tatopou­los says. “Bat­man doesn’t go in the Bat­cave every week­end and wash the car and the jet.”

Not all of the Flying Fox’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties made it into “Jus­tice League.” Can it go un­der­wa­ter? Fly into space? For now, Tatopou­los won’t say. But he and his team de­signed the plane with fea­tures like a ma­chine-gun tur­ret that can be used in fu­ture movies — and sooner than that for any kids who get their hands on a Flying Fox toy this hol­i­day sea­son.

“The more cool things it does, the more it be­comes both a great ve­hi­cle for the movie and a great toy for kids — it’s all the same thing,” Tatopou­los says. “We’re all like kids. We all want that jet on our desks at home.”

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