While being held in Father Wenwu’s compound, Shang-Chi, Katy, and Xialing discover long-time captive Trevor Slattery and his mate, a most unusual yet lovable creature created by Trixter – a small, round, CG creation fuzzy with six legs, four wings, and no head, eyes, or mouth. In addition to having no face, Morris, an expat from Ta Lo, has feathers and fur, which presented a challenge in bringing the character to life.
According to Dominik Zimmerle, VFX supervisor at Trixter, Morris is based on a Chinese mythological creature called Hundun (a primordial god of chaos), and as such there are historical illustrations that establish some level of precedence for how Morris has been conceived. The studio also used a number of other creatures as reference, including dogs, bears, wombats, and birds such as Canada geese (for the wing structures).
“We started with a few concepts created by the art department at Marvel and worked closely with the team there to create a cute, wonky, and affable creature,” Zimmerle explains. The artists then refined the design, deciding how to configure its six legs (would it have two pairs of front legs or two pairs of hind legs?), whether it would walk like a digitigrade creature on its toes or a plantigrade creature on the full foot. In the end, it was decided that Morris would have two sets of hind legs and plantigrade movement.
“Animating and rigging a six-legged creature like Morris was unprecedented for our team. for the extra set of legs in its small frame, but also to make sure they could move realistically and realistically,” says Zimmerlé.
Morris not only had to be cute, but he also had to communicate – which is no small feat with a creature that doesn’t have a face – what he does by flapping his wings and shifting his weight.
There are a variety of creatures that spawn along the so-called Ancestral Road (also a fully CG environment built by Trixter) at the entrance to Ta Lo, including nine-tailed white foxes and qilins, resembling animals to horses with the face of a dragon, turquoise, iridescent, scaly skin, blazing white mane, deer antlers at the top of their heads and shriveled faces.
Finally, Trixter created Abomination, a hulking creature at the Macau Fight Club.