With production on Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman set to begin in London this fall, the behind the scenes team is starting to come together and they’ve just added a key piece. Visual effects are a huge part of every superhero movie, and Wonder Woman has brought in Bill Westenhofer as the film’s visual effects supervisor. Westenhofer has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Visual Effects three times and won twice, for The Golden Compass in 2008 and for Life of Pi in 2013.
His filmography is pretty hit and miss in terms of decent movies. Westenhofer’s worked on not great flicks like Men in Black II, Land of the Lost, and A Good Day to Die Hard, as well as movies I quite liked such as Elf and The A-Team (it’s underrated!). His choosing Wonder Woman isn’t a guarantee that it will be good; his taste seems inconsistent. Nonetheless, he’s not responsible for the story or the direction, he’s just responsible for making the visual effects look good, and he’s done quite well with that. Life of Pi in particular was a massive achievement in visual effects, with almost the entire dang movie done on green screen, and Westenhofer won several other prestigious awards for his work on the film beyond his Oscar. He’s currently wrapping up work on the Warcraft film, which also has a massive visual effects component, so he’ll be well prepared for whatever comes his way with Wonder Woman.
This seems like a really good hire for Wonder Woman. Westenhofer’s got some direct mythological background that could be advantageous for Wonder Woman, having worked on Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. Some of his other films, like Warcraft and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe involved a lot of fantasy creature design as well. He’s got no experience whatsoever in superhero movies, which is interesting. Perhaps Wonder Woman is leaning toward a strong mythological angle rather than being a more conventional superhero film. We still don’t know anything about the story, so this is all just speculation, but Westenhofer’s body of work has some definite fantasy elements.
It’s encouraging that Wonder Woman seems to be bringing some talented people on board. While the quality of the film will ultimately come down to the story and direction more than anything, it’s nice to know that it has a good shot of looking great when it comes to visual effects. It’s only one piece of a bigger puzzle, but it’s an important piece, especially for a blockbuster movie like this.