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Although the DCEU technically launched off the back of 2013's Man of Steel, it was really only this year that the latest shared superhero cinematic universe became a reality. Sadly, although both Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad were blockbuster hits, they were also both panned by critics.
One thing's for sure: the DCEU never had a dearth of talent. One of DC Film's concept artists, Christian Lorenz Scheurer, an award-winning writer and artist who worked on hits such as The Matrix, The Day After Tomorrow, and Titanic, has just unveiled some of his outstanding concept art. He may have just unwittingly revealed some of DC's original plans for Suicide Squad, too!
Boom Tubes and Parademons?
At first glance, this intriguing piece of concept art just looks like some flashy Enchantress magic. But it carries a fascinating label: "Enchantress Boom Tube". In DC, a 'Boom Tube' is a type of portal that's typically associated with the New Gods — characters such as Darkseid or Steppenwolf (the villain of Justice League). Traditionally, Boom Tubes are opened by Mother Boxes, and we know the quest for the Mother Boxes is one that will be at the center of next year's Justice League film.
It seems that, at an early stage, Enchantress was envisioned as having some sort of connection to Darkseid and Apokalips. It may even be that she was originally planned to use a Mother Box to open a Boom Tube; after all, remember those monsters she created? Here's some concept art:
Not only does this concept art look very different to the finished product, it carries a different name. Parademon. In DC Comics, the Parademons are the legions of Darkseid himself, a ruthless and monstrous army who tear through the cosmos at his command. Traditionally the Parademons are have wings — we saw winged Parademons in Batman's vision in Batman v Superman — but there are actually ground-based Parademons too. In fact, some comics have suggested Parademons can be the reanimated dead of different worlds. Sounds like something Enchantress could pull off...
This piece of concept art is labeled as a Parademon Boss. Where Suicide Squad only gave us one tier of opponent, it seems the original concepts included an attempt to have multiple tiers — some that were easy to kill, others that were a much tougher fight. I can see why this particular creature would be a fierce opponent!
Perhaps significantly, this piece of concept arc is labeled as God (omitted). Given that the characters typically associated with Boom Tubes are referred to in the comics as the 'New Gods', it seems we were originally going to meet some of these powerful beings. DC fans — any guesses as to which of the New Gods this being could have been? Fascinatingly, there's another piece of concept art that teases at this being; ominously titled He has arrived.
Of course, in the end, this whole concept was abandoned. DC went for a more comics-accurate plot, with Enchantress simply a mystic who tries to wreak havoc. Personally, I have to be honest and think DC made a misstep; this version of Enchantress looks like she could have been much more cohesively woven into the growing mythology of the DCEU, helping us to chart a direct through-line in the universe's ongoing narrative.
Speaking of the Enchantress...
The majority of Scheurer's concept art focuses on the Enchantress herself, and reveals some beautiful designs that frankly exceed anything we saw on the screen. Sinister and dangerous, Scheurer creates fractal concepts that boggle the mind.
Here, you can see Scheurer work on the supercharged Enchantress — building her up to a dominating, overwhelming presence. I find the changing color schemes fascinating; as we all know, the basic Enchantress is grey; she then goes green; and ultimates progresses to this dazzling gold. Scheurer's designs show all the hallmarks of a visual genius.
This beautiful fractal image is clearly inspired by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, and is breathtaking both in its beauty and attention to detail. It's an image that resonates with real power, and a strangely haunting sense of menace.
Usually, concept art like this gives us a sense of the way the artistic direction of a film has changed over time. In the case of Suicide Squad, though, Christian Scheurer's concept art pulls back the curtain on the whole creative process. It seems that Suicide Squad was originally much more closely-integrated into the wider narrative of the DCEU, further developing the New Gods in preparation for Justice League. It's a fascinating glimpse of the world as it could have been.
All images: Christian Lorenz Scheurer