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May 25 2017

Steve Wang

Self-taught artist and sculptor Steve Wang was born in 1966, but moved with his family from Taiwan to the United States in 1975. Thanks to exposure to Halloween (which was largely unknown in Taiwan at the time), he quickly became enamored with both collecting and making masks. Factor in a love of tokusatsu shows like Ultraman and Kamen Rider and it should come as no surprise he later decided to try his hand at making his own movies. The first of these amateur efforts was his 1984 Super 8mm short Kung Fu Rascals: Monster Beach Party, which he later made a feature length sequel of sorts to in the 90’s. Given the incomplete nature of his professional credits in online sources, it’s hard to say what film was Wang’s first. His first job for a major motion picture appears to have been working as a painter and effects technician for the 1986 Invaders from Mars remake. This led to his working on many other films in the late 80’s, including The Monster Squad, Deepstar Six and Evil Dead II. His most famous work from that period can be seen in Predator. Many people don’t know how the film started off with a completely different look for the titular creature ,which had to be abandoned due to it not looking good as a costume. Stan Winston’s team, which included Steve Wang, was tasked with creating the iconic look which fans know and love today. In addition to his design work, Wang also sculpted various elements of the costume and was responsible for the costume’s paint scheme. Winston said the paint job was the most important part of the costume and Wang was given the assignment after he won first place in the monster suit category for Screaming Mad George’s second annual costume contest in 1987. Considering how the judges included special effects legends like Dick Smith and Rick Baker, this says a lot about Steve Wang’s talents. Naturally, this was only one of the many awards he would collect over the years.

The 90’s were also a busy time for Mr. Wang. 1991 saw him co-directing and providing effects for the 1991 live action manga adaptation The Guyver. This in turn led to him being approached to work on both the Japanese/American co-production Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero (which is known as Ultraman Powered in Japan) and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie. But he quickly parted ways on both projects when it became clear his proposed changes would not be accepted by those in charge. Ironically, he wound up working as a painter on the infamous 1998 American Godzilla movie which used a radically altered creature design than the more traditional one he created when the project was going to be directed by Jan de Bont. Wang returned for Guyver 2: Dark Hero, this time being the only one in the director’s chair and having more say over the film’s story in addition to his editing, producing and working on creature effects for the film. Speaking of directing, he also directed the cult martial arts classic Drive and an episode of Power Rangers Lost Galaxy during this time.

The next two decades saw him lending his talents to films like Reign of Fire, Hellboy, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem and Underworld: Evolution (among many others). But he wasn’t only limited to work on feature films. In 2002 he offered a line of “Biomorph” masks directly to the public and wrote for (in addition to directing and producing) the television series Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight from 2008 to 2010. He co-founded Alliance Studio with Eddie Yang and said studio has often made statues for Blizzard Entertainment over the years. Alliance Studio was also involved in the making of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, so you had better believe Steve Wang had a hand in the “Knightmare” creature seen in the film. Wang has also been known to appear in educational videos for the Stan Winston School of Character Arts, as seen on said school’s official YouTube channel:

He’s also lectured at the Cinema Makeup School and, as the following video from Radd Titan shows, he often appears on the convention circuit as well:

Given his numerous talents, I’m sure it won’t be too long before he gets involved in another project. Until then, we can visit his official Instagram account and read up on his past works. I had to skip over a ton of things in order to keep this article from getting to long, such as his acting roles, so clicking on that last link is highly recommended. Sadly the Internet Movie Database entry for him is far from complete. For example, it currently fails to note how he designed the monster in Dragon Blue and I would love to get some definitive verification he was actually involved in Jushin Thunder Liger: Fist of Thunder. One gets the feeling this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Bibliography:

Interview with Artist and Creature Creator, Steve Wang – ArtsBeatLA
Off Hollywood – Steve Wang – VICE
Steve Wang – SPFX Character Creator & Master Monster Maker | Stan Winston School
An Interview with Steve Wang – AFN.org
Steve Wang – Creature Creator – About | Facebook
Original Predator Design – Jean-Claude Van Damme As A Giant Fly?
First Person Monster Blog: Part 45: The Saga of THE PREDATOR, Part 1
GODZILLA Unmade: The History of Jan De Bont’s Unproduced TriStar Film – Part 1 of 4
Steve Wang – Wikipedia
KC Interview with Steve Wang – KamenConnection
Biography – Alliance Studio

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