WE CAN BE HEROES Exclusive: Stephen Clee Talks Creating Squiggle Monsters For The SHARKBOY & LAVAGIRL Sequel

The sequel to The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3D is now on Netflix, and we recently spoke with the movie's Animation Supervisor Stephen Clee about creating the exciting squiggle monsters!

Nearly two decades ago, Robert Rodriguez released The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3D. Starring Taylor Lautner and Taylor Dooley as the titular characters, the wacky and zany movie became a cult classic super-hero film.

After sixteen years, fans can return to that universe with the next generation of characters in We Can Be Heroes, which was recently released on Netflix. The movie focuses on a young group of children with powers who have to step up when their parents are captured by aliens and handle things themselves. It stars popular actors like Pedro Pascal and Priyanka Chopra alongside the younger cast members.

We spoke exclusively with two creative minds that helped bring this exciting movie to life: Animation Supervisor Stephen Clee and VFX supervisor Dan Macarin, both of whom have an extensive history with Marvel films like Thor: Ragnarok. We asked if their experiences on MCU films helped prep them for what they did on We Can Be Heroes, and Clee was happy to share with us how they worked to create the squiggle monsters.

Listen to Clee's comments in the audio clip below, which also features VFX Supervisor Dan Macarin. This portion of the transcript is also included under the podcast.

"Yeah, absolutely. I think, with the superhero stuff, there's a lot of green screens, there's a lot of augmenting what actors are doing on set and making that believable, taking over plates and making them feel like they've got weight, adding CG elements to them. So that kind of thing transferred across. I think some of my 2D animation background actually really helped on this one because it was a little more cartoony in some ways, like with the squiggle monsters in the battle at the end, being able to exaggerate it, being able to get good posing, and really quickly and efficiently sell an idea to a child and make it really clear. That really helped.

The squiggle monsters were very much Robert's idea there. The visual effects supervisor, Charlie, did some tests with some stop motion animation. Robert had a lot of different types of drawings of what he'd like to see, and some drawings that were going to be on Ojo's iPad with two types of squiggle monsters, with the big one with the big mouth that had the big tail. And then the one that was multiple tentacles with the one eye, there. So we had designs for both of those. And then it was kind of up to my department in animation to make sure that they moved correctly. And then on Dan's side to make sure that the squiggle effects and the broken-up lines looked like it was what it was, which is a drawing come to life."

Be sure to check out the trailer and synopsis for We Can Be Heroes below and share your thoughts on the movie and this interview in the usual spot! Also, stay tuned for other chats with the guys about their work on films like Thor: Ragnarok and Okja.


 
When alien invaders kidnap Earth's superheroes, their kids are whisked away to a government safe house. But whip-smart tween Missy Moreno (Yaya Gosselin) will stop at nothing to rescue her superhero dad, Marcus Moreno (Pedro Pascal). Missy teams up with the rest of the superkids to escape their mysterious government babysitter, Ms. Granada (Priyanka Chopra Jonas). If they're going to save their parents, they'll have to work together by using their individual powers — from elasticity to time control to predicting the future — and form an out-of-this-world team. Full of action and heart, WE CAN BE HEROES is directed by Robert Rodriguez (SPY KIDS, THE ADVENTURES OF SHARKBOY AND LAVAGIRL) and also stars Boyd Holbrook, Christian Slater, Chris McDonald, and Adriana Barraza.

We Can Be Heroes is now streaming on Netflix.

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