The first wave of Marvel's Netflix shows have proved to be a phenomenal success, culminating in The Defenders, the epic series that will unite the first four Netflix heroes. As part of our buildup to the show's release, I had the privilege of an exclusive interview with Sarit Klein, Marvel's go-to makeup designer. Here, she talks about giving each Netflix series their own unique tone and style, and then integrating these into The Defenders.
The Overarching Style
The stars of The Defenders aren't your normal superheroes. They're dark and gritty heroes with flaws, reluctant to step up and save their city. As a result, Sarit's overall approach is to stress their humanity. This is generally achieved through subtle makeup, often just focusing on corrective work. As Sarit notes, she has to ensure these shows coexist seamlessly.
"All shows are part of the Marvel universe so there needs to be some consistency. They need to look like they belong in the same world."
In the prep phase before each show, Sarit is involved in lengthy discussions about the tone she'll need to work on. Once the overall direction is decided on, Sarit runs a makeup meeting to elaborate on the show's style and color palette, exploring how the tone and style correlates with the actor's looks. Some designs are based on the comics, but there's always a focus on creating a contemporary, down-to-earth look that focuses on the flawed superheroes of the 21st century.
Sarit gave me a quick run-through of the different styles and tones she's explored in each of the four Netflix shows that run up to The Defenders release:
- In the case of #Daredevil, Sarit aimed at "a very gritty, '70s kind of vibe." Lots of scenes were shot intentionally dark, with makeup decisions carefully made to work with the low lighting. A particular challenge was the sheer amount of blood; Sarit did a couple of tests to find the right blood color.
- In contrast, #JessicaJones was styled more like a noir show, with muted colors and less saturated tones using blues and greys. Makeup tests became necessary to ensure the skin tones weren't too pale, and that the makeup worked in cooler lighting.
- Moving on to #LukeCage, the colors here were warmed up to emphasize the vibrant colors you find in Harlem. Sarit seems to have really enjoyed this show, and stresses:
"Due to the richer, saturated Gels that were used, I was able to incorporate a more vibrant color palette (warm browns, ambers and golds, purples, berries and fuchsias). We also had big crowds and singers at Harlem's paradise so we could do some fun beauty makeup."
- And finally, we have #IronFist. According to Sarit, this was the first show that took HDTVs into consideration; these display everything much brighter than your standard resolution monitors. As a result, Sarit toned down some makeup looks, such as lip colors, knowing they would look too bright on the screen.
Combining These Into The Defenders
Sarit has nothing but praise for S.J. Clarkson, who directed the first two episodes of The Defenders (and Jessica Jones too). Clarkson was the one to establish the visual style of The Defenders, and did this by drawing on the color palettes from each show. Sarit explains:
"Since each character had their own color palette on their personal shows, she brought those colors all together, sometimes in the same scene. I was fortunate to design all the personal superhero shows, so I had the knowledge of each color palette and knew what makeup colors worked with various lights and specific camera gels and filters. We kept the makeup consistent with what was established on the other shows."
It's a fascinating approach, ensuring that — visually, as much as anything else — The Defenders will be the climax of everything that we've seen on Marvel TV to date. The show won't simply unite four heroes; it will bring together four different worlds, four different color palettes and tones, that will combine to create one unique series.
This is music to every Marvel fan's ear, as it promises a show that will pay homage to everything we've loved about The Defenders so far. Every character will be given their chance to shine, every world will be subtly explored, and every hero will work in contrast to their fellow Defenders. This looks set to be one tremendous new series.