Being a huge fan of the X-Men movie franchise, I knew it was only a matter of me finding time to go and check out this free exhibit at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in downtown Toronto. The X-Men Master: Gordon Smith exhibit opened in August 2012 and I kept putting it off thinking I had tons of time before it’s gone but when I found myself in the area last Friday, with no set plans for the afternoon, I decided I really didn’t have any excuse now.
Located up on the 4th floor of the building at King & John, I wasn’t quite sure if I was going in the right direction. The elevator opened up to an office reception area. Looking around, I approached the guy behind the desk and he directed me to an inset doorway behind him on the other side of the reception wall where I was greeted with a glass door and this magnificent comic-filled entryway. (I snapped just this one photo right at the entrance for the purpose of doing this recap post before realizing that we weren’t allowed pictures. 🙁 boo…)
Right at the door there were sketches of the movie characters, history of the comic book series and information about make-up & special effects master, Gordon Smith. Rounding the corner, along the walls were images from the first two X-Men movies that he worked on, a (I’m assuming) make-up chair that he would have used and a glass case full of individually contained contact lenses for the many characters. On the opposite corner was a life-sized display of arguably Smith’s most fantastic piece, the countless individual pieces that made up Mystique. Shown next to the model was a glass case highlighting various thin pieces as well as a video of the application process on Rebecca Romijn, the actress who played the blue shapeshifter.
Moving along, we see all the goggles used for Ray Park’s Toad and all the blue hands, feet & tail for Alan Cumming’ s Nightcrawler. In the centre of this area are 3 incredibly life-like (and creepy!) heads that were used in the two movies. Senator Kelly for his squeezing through the bars scene, Lady Deathstrike underwater and Wolverine flying through the windshield. I was hoping to see some props from my favourite, James Marsden as Cyclops, but I guess there really wasn’t much to changing his look for the movie other than some ruby quartz Oakley sunglasses. (I can’t believe I remember/know that off the top of my head…)
I went through the entire exhibit in about 20 minutes, and possibly if I were to have stood and read/listened to everything it might have taken me to about 30 minutes but it’s definitely a small exhibit – with the back of the gallery actually opening up to another reception area with more offices! That being said, this is such a fantastic collection of amazingly talented work. It’s a must-see for fans of X-Men and a fantastic exhibit to check out if you have interest in movie special effects and make up.
X-Men Master: Gordon Smith runs until March 31, 2013 at the TIFF Bell Ligthbox. Check the website for hours of operation.