Avengers: Infinity War builds up to two epic showdowns that take place in very different settings. One great battle takes place in the lush, high-tech jungles of Wakanda, while the other takes place in a dusty, desolate ruin of a planet. Wakanda and Titan couldn’t be more different, and Infinity War production designer Charles Wood says that’s by design.

“In a film like this, if the environments are too similar and you’re jumping from one story point to another, the danger is that can add a lot of confusion as to what you’re looking at in an already complex story,” Wood told Inverse in a phone interview a week ahead of the film’s physical release.

But, Thanos’ homeworld wasn’t always a lifeless wasteland. Before it ran out of resources — and after the planet’s leaders rejected Thanos’ genocidal plan for salvation — Titan was a vibrant paradise. That’s where Wood and his team started when they brought the fictional planet to life.

“We created the world before its apocalyptic destruction early, in a conceptual way,” Wood explains. “Rather than just create an apocalyptic world, you have to see it before that event had happened.”

Titan, before and after.
Titan, before and after.

In order to bring this dead planet to life on the big screen, Wood first needed to start with an idea of what it looked like before the catastrophe. From there, he explains that the team looked to some very hot and very cold places for inspiration.

“Originally, we started looking at a full-blown location shoot for that, we ended up going to Chile,” he explains, though they didn’t end up filming on location. “We were certainly inspired by the Atacama Desert.”

“It wasn’t so much derived from the comic books as it was, for that particular world of Titan, derived more from these desert locations,” Wood continues. “Then, the whole idea with that planet was, when you see it in its post-apocalypse state, it was all breaking apart already.”

Antarctica was the next step in Wood’s inspiration tour, as he and his team looked at pictures of icebergs to capture Titan’s decaying state.

“We were trying to capture a landscape that was low gravity and in the process of coming apart, and I remember that we looked at icebergs a lot for that, which became sort of the shape of how [Titan] worked,” he says.

The final piece of Titan’s aesthetic wasn’t quite as desolate as a Chilean desert or the frigid southern waters, though. It’s actually kind of quaint.

“For those structures, those kind of mad, star-like structures, we looked a lot at windmills,” Wood says. “We wanted to have just simple silhouettes.”

Titan in its ruined state.
Titan in its ruined state. 

Avengers: Infinity War is out on Blu-ray on August 14.