While there is no shortage of colorful and interesting characters in James Gunn‘s Peacemaker, there is one that might just be everyone’s favorite. That character, of course, is Eagly, Peacemaker’s (John Cena) pet bald eagle-slash-best friend and while the bird certainly looked real in the HBO Max series, Eagly is very much a stunning visual effects creation from W?t? FX and according to Mark Gee, W?t? FX Animation Supervisor, work on making Peacemaker’s sidekick started by looking at references to real birds to make Eagly as realistic as possible.
“We started with a raven, and obviously, James came to us and said, ‘Look, John Cena’s sidekick is going to be an American bald eagle. And he has to be an eagle. He has to look real.’ So, that was a big challenge on its own. We’ve done eagles and birds and things in the past. And honestly, they’re the hardest things in visual effects to do and make look realistic, and we only had three months or so just to develop this from scratch so, it was a huge task, but firstly, we went off and we watched a bunch of YouTube, hundreds of clips of eagles,” Gee told ComicBook.com.
Gee went on to explain that after they’d grabbed reference footage and images for American bald eagles, they got to work on building Eagly to make him what he should look like — a task that included feathers. Gee explained that one of the big challenges was creating CG feathers for Eagly that looked like real feathers, and that the CG eagle they created ended up having nearly double the number of feathers of a real bird just to give him some volume. After that, it was other details — including lighting and giving the character personality.
“And then it was all down to the lighting and getting the feathers working,” Gee said. “It was a huge process, and the base process took us at least three months. And we further developed as we got into the first and second episode. By the time we were around the second episode, Eagly was pretty stable and from then on him, he just improved but it was actually quite amazing to see his personality grow in CG land. We started off animating the first episode, which was the garage scene. And wasn’t, to be honest, as far as lighting is concerned, for us it wasn’t the best scene to get Eagly looking great. But we developed from there on in and yeah, just developed his personality as he went through. And James, you could see James on the calls we were doing with him. He was sort of falling in love with Eagly each time we showed him, and it was incredible how his personality actually developed over that time.”
The first season of Peacemaker is now streaming on HBO Max.