‘The Guardian Vol. 3’ broke the world record for most prosthetics in a film with over 22,500 pieces

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spoiler ALERT, This post contains spoilers for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” is now playing in theaters.

Marvel's “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” was a huge undertaking for makeup head Alexei Dmitriev and hair department head Cassie Rusek, used more than 22,500 prosthetics, 500 wigs and 130 facial hairpieces to create the film's galactic creatures. That number broke the record for most prosthetics used in a film, previously held by “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”.

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From Will Poulter's Adam Warlock to the villainous The High Evolutionary (Chukudi Iwuji) to the hybrid Humananimals, the two were tasked with creating the originals as the Guardians set out on their latest mission.

It took a village of 75 makeup artists on set – sometimes as many as 90 – to perfect the look. “We had two people per prosthetic, so we could keep down times,” says Dmitriev. “On it, we used 22,542 prosthetics, 117 pairs of contact lenses and 500 wigs.”

Iwuji describes The High Evolutionary as a “mad scientist” responsible for Bradley Cooper's rocket transformation from an everyday raccoon into a foul-mouthed genius who has overcome a lifetime of heartache and trauma. Through flashbacks, the film details Rocket's origins: he is part of The High Evolutionary's experiment to create an advanced species. Rocket witnesses the villain kill his closest friends, and retaliates by damaging his creator's face when he turns on him. This is later revealed to be the reason why The High wears the Evolutionary's mask.

“James Gunn really wanted to make sure we kept the integrity of Chuck and his acting,” says Dimitri. “James wanted to make sure we got to see all the nuances of his performance.”

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As far as the application process goes, Iwoodji needed two prosthetic pieces and a headpiece, which were then “blended into my skin.” He pulled the prosthetic back into the helmet so it looked like it was pulling my skin. Has been,” says Iwoodji.

How long did it take to transform into Marvel's newest villain? “It started in less than two hours,” says Iwoodji. But within a few sessions, they came down to 70-75 minutes.

For the Humananimals, hybrids of humanoid and animal ranging from kangaroo and turtle to vampire bat and rabbit, Dimitri says, “On the day, we had about 30 people in makeup, all with masks with unique makeup.”

(L-R): Dave Bautista as Drax and Pom Klementieff as Mantis at Marvel Studios'';  Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.  3. Photo by Jessica Miglio.  © 2023 Marvel.

(LR): Dave Bautista as Drax and Pom Klementieff as Mantis in Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo by Jessica Miglio. © 2023 Marvel.

Each actor will wear a prosthetic with an “intricate 3D-sculpted skull cap,” says Dimitri. For Batmom, “we had nails and bat wings, a nine-piece prosthetic makeup, a custom wig, contact lenses, and teeth. All the characters had that level of makeup.”

There was no room for error, so Dimitri and Rusek held classes before the actors got into character. “Because it was so unique and complex, it had to be perfect and we wanted everyone to know what they were doing,” says Dimitri.

The intensity of the makeup goes right down to the nails. Rusek recalls walking into a trailer and seeing special effects artist Adam Walls doing nail art. “As a kid, I saw ‘Waterworld,' and the nails were a mess. That level of detail is something I'll never forget,” Rusek says. “So when I went in and had Adam make all those nails When I saw it, I had it full circle.”

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Adam b. Varys contributed to this report.

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