In this scene from James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad for Warner Bros., Starro escapes the laboratory in which he is being held in this mostly CG shot.
Some of the foreground with Margo Robbie’s Harley Quinn was shot on the backlot at Trilith Studios (formerly Pinewood Atlanta Studios) and then the rest is CG, including Starro, the laboratory and all of the destruction (Weta wrote some new simulation software that contributed to the destruction).
In creating Starro — a 150 ft. tall alien starfish — Weta VFX supervisor Guy Williams explains that early design had him a bit more slender, but in the end, the filmmakers made him “more chunky and massive so that you buy it as a real legitimate creature. It feels like it has muscles and underlying structures.”
“James has a fantastic sense of style and design. He envisions things to be incredibly vivid and almost psychedelic, but at the same time he wants them to be grounded,” says Williams, a three-time VFX Oscar nominee for The Avengers, Iron Man 3 and Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. “It was a very strong concern of his during prep that Starro comes across as something that we can ‘believe.’ That it’s not a cartoon character walking through a real world. He wanted it to be a bit of a gritty thing.”
He adds, “We had to work to get all the detail in there and all the colors so that it had that psychedelic quality, but it didn’t sort of transcend into cartoon. So that meant putting in just insane amounts of detail into the surface of the creature.”
The team looked at starfish and other creatures such as birds, frogs and lizards for reference. “Starfish don’t have eyes [so Starro has] a sort of a human eye, but then we created a bone structure around the eye that’s akin to what a bird has called the sclerotic ring that allows the eye to remain rigid.”