Superman: Flyby (2003) - Kata-Zor Pod Concepts

Time for a flashback, since I'm uploading this on Traditional Tuesday. One of my first movie projects was this take on Superman written by JJ Abrams and to be directed alternately by Brett Ratner & Mc.G. While it never got off the ground, it did give us the opportunity to generate some cool Kryptonian tech, including this battle pod flown by the minions of Superman's evil cousin Kata-Zor as they scoured the galaxy in search of the prophesied savior of Krypton, one Kal-El.

Back then my primary media was a fist full of markers, laid wet-on-wet on bond, marker paper or vellum, whatever was handy. It tended to mean working very fast to get a nice blend, which led to a lot of happy accidents when a darker color was grabbed inadvertently, forcing me to work bolder than I would normally choose.

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Final design of the Kata-Zor Pod. In contrast to Kal-El's more tear-drop shaped pod, these needed to look wicked and deadly. Fellow designer Geoff Darrow had established an almost medieval look to Kryptonian architecture, so I took some cues from that.

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Rear view, showing the vectoring thrust nozzle.

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First version of the underside. I liked the idea of a turtle-shell like construction, with vectoring emitters below for landing.

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A second version of the underside. Production designer Owen Patterson wanted something more streamlined.

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An early concept ideation page. The one cue that PD Owen Patterson had mandated was a manta-ray-like silhouette.

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More initial concepts. These were still considered too similar to Superman's pod, so a new aesthetic direction was needed.

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Approaching these with a less glossy finish, more of a military olive/sand and armored approach. I really liked this direction.

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A rough prismacolor pencil sketch of the interior rendered in Photoshop. I envisioned the whole clamshell opening up to reveal the pilot's seat. The light circles cast on the surface would have been from the openings for the cylindrical mortar batteries.