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DCEU: 8 Best Early Character Concept Art | Screen Rant

What can be seen in the various films of the DC Extended Universe thus far is rarely ever the first idea that came to mind for the filmmakers when putting these movies together. The appearances of these characters especially underwent a multitude of revisions and experiments before their final forms were settled on.

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Thanks to a variety of skilled concept artists drawing up countless different iterations of these characters and their costumes to entice the films' respective directors with creative ideas or different interpretations of their vision, there is no shortage of possibilities to be explored in seeing how these characters might have looked.

Flash's costume in Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021) has its roots in pre-production for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), when an early concept for Barry Allen's cameo-via-stolen-recordings showed the Scarlet Speedster wearing his red and gold suit. A unique quality, however, was the idea that he would lack the iconic logo on the chest, as Barry would not have fleshed out his theme by that point.

The outfit was designed by Jerad S Marantz, one of the best DCEU concept artists around, who also created a more traditional version with the logo. It remains an intriguing possibility for how Barry's first appearance in the DCEU could have gone down.

Warren Manser is to thank for many of the costume design aesthetics seen in Man of Steel (2013), but the path to what is seen on the screen required a lot of experimenting with different concepts. In the behind-the-scenes featurettes, Zack Snyder mentioned he looked through countless iterations of the costume retaining Superman's comic-derived red trunks, and Manser drew up several of these concepts incorporating the element in different ways.

Most notably, early concepts had far more silver piping throughout the suit highlighting muscles. Not to mention a variant of the "S" glyph with a black background reminiscent of the old Max Fleischer cartoons.

Constantine Sekeris drew up some early concepts for Batman's outfit depicting the caped crusader wearing high-tech gray armor similar to his armored Batsuit in games like Batman: Arkham Knight (2015), as opposed to his more comic-accurate costume as seen in the final film.

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Christopher Nolan's era emphasised Batman’s suit as armor, and that idea would have carried over here. Ultimately, Snyder opted for something paying homage to Frank Miller's comic The Dark Knight Returns (1986), with the gray tights and bulkier body, though the armored Batsuit idea returned for the finale of Zack Snyder's Justice League.

James Wan's Aquaman (2018) endowed Arthur Curry with an outfit highly reminiscent of his comic book counterpart's traditional appearance, but another version of the classic green-and-orange suit was nearly used for the character’s appearance in Zack Snyder's Justice Leaguecrafted by Constantine Sekeris.

Whether because Zack Snyder wanted to give Wan leeway to put his own spin on the definitive costume, or because Wan wanted to tell the story of Arthur finding the ancient armor of King Atlan, a different and more complex costume was finalised by artist Ian Joyner for the final film.

While there exist more comic-accurate takes on Doomsday's appearance in concept art, another stands out as especially unique. Art by Vance Kovacs depicts the monster as an uglier, more asymmetrical genetic abomination, closer to a hunchback with its wonky stature and incoherent facial structure.

The idea for Doomsday was always an "ancient Kryptonian deformity," but this design takes that to a new level by creating something more akin to a gigantic Frankenstein's Monster than a comic book villain, which would certainly have served the idea Zack Snyder was going for. It is unknown if this design would have evolved more spikes like the final version does.

Marantz is a star when it comes to concept design for the DCEU, back again. Diversifying the New Gods of Apokolips in Zack Snyder's Justice League, Steppenwolf bears a remarkably distinct appearance from his master Darkseid's somewhat more authentic comic appearance.

Yet, in another early conception by Marantz shows the supreme villain donning complex armor more closely resembling the artist's early renditions of Steppenwolf's layers of metallic shards protruding from his flesh, unifying the New Gods with a consistent and noticeably more alien aesthetic deviating from the more colourful and blockier comic designs.

Ed Natividad has a massive portfolio on his website filled with work on the Batman v Superman Batmobile and various set pieces for Aquaman. Interestingly, he also has a number of conceptual pieces for scenes from Suicide Squad (2016), especially involving the Joker.

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At that point in production, the villain was poised for a more comic-accurate look without tattoos, along with a perpetual smile resulting from what looks like scars similar to Heath Ledger's take. This early take included an interaction between him and Batman. Evidently, director David Ayer ultimately went with something more akin to a modern gangster with facial tattoos and metal teeth.

In Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman (2017), David Thewlis' character used telekinesis to layer himself in metal from war machines to create a very thematically relevant armor, but Ares' supervillain look had mixed reception from audiences who felt the character's moustache seen through his helmet was somewhat distracting. Yet, early versions of the character were far more radical departures.

One concept by Adam Burn dramatically emphasised the telekinetic concept, where Ares would use debris to build a giant form that would heat up and ignite in fire as it came together. Resembling a video game boss, this idea would have made Ares seem like the personification of war itself.

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