Movies are more than just actors, it is about everything they interact with on screen. Creating a world, whether it be 1940s Chicago or a planet far, far away is all about the little details.
When it comes to making those details come to life you go to the prop master. In Hollywood there’s few better than Russell Bobbitt. Bobbitt has been in the industry for almost four decades with a resume that includes everything from Invaders from Mars and Jingle All the Way to the entire Iron Man trilogy.
As the Marvel Cinematic Universe celebrates its 10th anniversary That’s My Entertainment sat down with Bobbitt to talk about his amazing career and what went into the creation of some of the most iconic pieces in movie history today.
You’ve been working with Marvel since the very beginning in Iron Man. How do you think your work as prop master has evolved with the Marvel Cinematic Universe now that we’re almost 20 movies in?
The Marvel projects have been great for me. I’m part of the 10 year anniversary because I started on Iron Man 1 and have been working on the movies ever since. The context of the Marvel films make them incredibly challenging to work on. If I were working on a period film set in the 1940s, there’s a clear visualization of how that should look. In space, there are no rules so your imagination comes into play. The biggest challenge is to sell the audience the idea of humans as superheroes! But advancements in technology definitely help us bring this to life.
You got your start with the movie Private Resort in 1985. How has the industry changed since then artistically? Has the role of the art department and the prop master changed?
When I started out in the industry 35 years ago, the technology wasn’t quite as advanced as it is today. We didn’t even have cell phones when we were making prop phones for the characters! Nowadays, I use 3D printers and we have illustrators to create CAD drawings and model every prop from the inside out. The technology allows us to analyse whether it’s going to work mechanically or not. There is also a team of painters and sculptors who provide the finishing touches.
You’ve worked on every genre of film out there. Do you have a favorite? What makes you choose one film over another?
I guess comedy because I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Betty Thomas, she taught me how to put make the audience laugh and how that can be achieved with different camera angles, cuts and of course props!
When you were young you were fascinated with mechanics and electronics. Do you have any recommendations for other tinkerers out there that want to take your career path? What brought you to the film side of things?
I would say it’s important to have a passion for whatever you do. If you have a real talent and love for your craft, you will go far in the film industry. My mother was friends with a set decorator named Robert Gould and he gave me a job for three weeks when I was 20 years old. I thought it was the greatest thing ever. It was a huge challenge in the first few days. He threw me on set in front of a camera and essentially said ‘make it work’- and I did! I completely fell in love with the magic of movie making that week.
Do you have a favorite prop you created? What is it about that you love?
My favorite prop will have to be the Arc Reactor that Tony Stark wears on his chest. The research and development of the prop and all of it’s different iterations have been great fun to figure out. Robert Downey Jr. and myself sit and talk about each one and what purpose it will serve in the story.
Is there a Marvel character you want to design for but haven’t yet?
Perhaps the X-Men. But I stay very busy with the handful of characters that I am currently doing props for. The team is currently over 50 characters. But I always invite more to cross my path.
No Question Mark Box Here; Super Mario Delivers a 1-Up in Theaters
If you were born in the ’80s, ’90s, or literally ANY decade after those, you know about Super Mario. A cultural phenomenon was brought to life on the big screen this last weekend. One that has not only stood the test of time but reinvented itself time and time again. This wasn’t even the first time it’s been made into a movie but, well, let’s be honest.. some of us choose not to acknowledge the LIVE action adaptation of the beloved game from 30 years ago.
It was pretty bad… But this was animation. ILLUMINATION animation at that. The Universal company that brought us Gru and his Minions, showed us the Secret Life of Pets, and gave us a reason to SING! Still, I had my reservations and even some concerns, especially when the casting was announced.
Eyebrows were raised. As big of stars as they were on paper, could they really deliver on voicing characters from a staple of our childhood? They did.
Chris Pratt and Charlie Day may not be Italian, and Jack Black may not be a King or Turtle creature from the Mushroom Kingdom, but they make the characters their own all while paying homage to the lore of a video game.
From the jump, the story reintroduces us to the brothers that just want to save Brooklyn one clogged sink at a time. We feel an instant connection and relate to these “underdogs of the plumbing world”. The movie is riddled with easter eggs, each of which tugs on the heartstrings of every generation of Mario fandom. And the soundtrack was beautifully put together to not only make us feel like we’re taking a walkthrough of the game but like an experience all its own with some familiar favorites thrown in.
Every word in the movie is pure eye candy for both those that are casual fans, and those analyzing every frame to see what they’ll catch next. Bowser’s ship, the Mushroom Kingdom, Kong’s arena, and the Rainbow Road.. They’re all meant to give us just enough of a “new” look at these amazing worlds, but stay true to how we remember them.
The movie itself moves along at the perfect pace. Although, if you don’t really know ANYTHING about the Super Mario Bros, you may have gotten a little lost and felt left behind in the green tunnel. But that’s ok! It’s an adventure of the imagination and a classic story of a boy that meets a girl and tries to save the world from a monster that wants to destroy it.
What’s funny is that you could easily say this is a story about two characters who couldn’t be more opposite if they tried, battling to win the heart of a princess. Who would’ve thought that the King of the Koopas was just trying to impress his crush?
And that song? Ohhh THAT song! It’s my new ringtone and deserves the Oscar for Best Original Song.
Back to the movie.
Universal and Illumination clearly understood the assignment. Is it missing some things or could things have been done differently or even better? Absolutely! We’re the worst critics of the things we hold nearest and dearest to our hearts. But if you’re up for going on a 90-minute adventure through amazing worlds, with awesome music, and characters that’ll make you smile and laugh, then this is the perfect movie to spring you into that warm summer feeling.
Plus there’s the whole part with karts and shells, and banana peels and oh my goodness how amazing was that?? It’s enough to make you want to stand up and cheer, then go home and destroy your friends and family on your favorite track haha.
The bottom line, it pays homage in all the right ways to the little guy with the mustache, while giving us something new and exciting. Take the kids and go see Super Mario Bros. You’ll be glad you did!
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023
Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Opening Act Saturday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m. on North 200A. Talent confirmed so far to participate in the post-screening panel is Natalie Alyn Lind (Big Sky, The Goldbergs, Gotham) as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince and longtime RWBY cast member Lindsay Jones (Camp Camp) as Ruby, Kara Eberle ( RWBY: Ice Queendom) as Weiss, Arryn Zech (Detective Now Dead) as Blake and Barbara Dunkelman (Blood Fest) as Yang – along with Jeannie Tirado (Soul, Saints Row) as Green Lantern and Tru Valentino (The Rookie, The Cuphead Show!) as a cyborg. Also attending the panel will be producer/director Kerry Shawcross (series RWBY) and writer Meghan Fitzmartin (Supernatural, Justice Society: World War II).
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023 with the big screen debut from DC Animated Films: highlights this year include the world premieres of the highly anticipated Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham and Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Part One the weekend of March 24-26 in Anaheim, California. Both screenings will be followed by panel discussions with actors and creators. Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham premieres at The Arena on Friday, March 24 at 6 p.m. Tati Gabrielle (Kaleidoscope, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Uncharted) as Kai Li Cain, Christopher Gorham (The Lincoln Lawyer, Insatiable) as Oliver Queen, David Dastmalchian (Dune, Suicide Squad, Ant-Man) as Grendon, producer/co-director Sam Liu (The Death and the Return of Superman), co-director Christopher Berkeley (Young Justice) and screenwriter Jase Ricci (Teen Titans Go! and DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem Across the Multiverse).
Both films will have encore screenings in the Arena on Sunday, March 26. Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part One will screen at 12:15pm, followed by Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham at 2:00pm