Chris Hemsworth is Thor...
"It's a pretty impressive costume, and I think anyone who put it on would look pretty cool," Chris Hemsworth told MTV News earlier this year.
The 26-year-old Australia native, glimpsed briefly during the opening five minutes of J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot, was the lucky actor to bag the titanic role of Thor.
Marvel were keen on a ‘name’, but director Kenneth Branagh was having none of it, and went instead for the lesser known Hemsworth.
For his part, the actor seems to be having the time of his life, wearing a blonde wig “which they throw on me every day”, while much of his rehearsal time was spent not getting into shape (though we expect that took up a fair chunk of Earth time), but learning how to pronounce the name of Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir.
“There's many different versions of pronouncing that thing,” he says. “The rehearsal process was mainly about, ‘How do we pronounce that word?’”
Writer Ashley Miller also puts his two cents in what to expect from the character:
“You want to feel Thor’s rage when he rages. You want to see him fight like hell, and take as much he dishes out — maybe more. You want to have a visceral reaction to the guy, and what happens to him. You don’t want his adventures to be clean and antiseptic.
“You want to see the dirt, and grime and blood. You want to feel every bone crunching moment of every fight. And when he unleashes the storm, you want to feel like you’re seeing the power of a GOD at work.” Yes, all of the above, please.
Kenneth Branagh is in the directors chair...
Yup, Brit born, Oscar-winning, actor-turned-director Kenneth Branagh will be helming all the action for this Marvel adventure. And it’s a job that Branagh says has been many years in the making.
He told The LA Times : “Growing up, my single comic book passion was Thor. From my time in Belfast as a kid, that's the first time I came across that comic, really, exclusively, I don't know why, but it struck a chord. I was drawn to it. I liked all the dynastic drama.”
It’s a surprise gig for the director, whose last dig into the realms of big budget fantasy was 1994’s Frankenstein . So what exactly was the appeal of Thor , with its return to those action-packed roots?
“To work on a story about one of the immortals, Gods, extraordinary beings, inter-dimensional creatures,” the director explains.
“There’s science fiction and science fact and fantasy all woven into one. It’s based on Norse legends which Marvel sort of raided in a brilliant way.”
It could be a game changer...
If word in the Marvel offices is to be believed, Thor could be an entirely different breed of comic-to-film adaptation, unique from all previous comic book movies.
That’s mostly according to Marvel chief Joe Quesada, who says “what’s really amazing is that [ people ] will walk away going, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this before within the super hero genre.’”
The big boss man goes on to add: “It’s so cool, and I don’t want to use the word ‘unusual’, but it is unusual in the sense that it redefines what a super hero movie can be. It’s not the expected story or settings.
I’m sitting there listening to Branagh act out his version of the scene with gusto and passion and I had to stop him and say, ‘If you said to me right now, “Then Thor kills 100 puppies in an animal shelter” I’d say it was fantastic.’”
Wow, sounds good. So what makes Thor so ‘unique’, then? According to Branagh, he and his creative team attempted to look for new “framing styles” for telling their story.
"Inspired by the comic book world both pictorially and compositionally at once, we've tried to find a way to make a virtue and a celebration of the distinction between the worlds that exist in the film but absolutely make them live in the same world," Branagh said recently.
“It's about finding the framing style, the color palette, finding the texture and the amount of camera movement that helps celebrate and express the differences and the distinctions in those worlds. If it succeeds, it will mark this film as different...”
Its 300 with an actual plot...
“It’s a chance to tell a big story on a big scale,” says Branagh. “It’s a human story right in the center of a big epic scenario.”
No kidding. Featuring an uber-powerful Norse god discarded from Up There and grounded in Manhattan, Thor is all about big. But can Branagh translate the outrageous story to the big screen without it smelling of brie?
Star Chris Hemsworth thinks so. “There’s so many different versions of the comic books, they’ve sort of bonded quite a few of them to form this particular story, but it’s all very true to the original stuff,” he says.
Meanwhile, Mania have read the script , and they refer to it as 300 with a plot. It’s an origins story, establishing how the Asgardians came to be, and winds up being “an awesomely huge action epic”.
“Imagine, if you will, that 300 had a plot,” they say. “Now imagine a version of Lord Of The Rings that was a bit less artsy, with elves that were a little less pretty and a lot more badass.
“Now add a big freakin' hammer that can summon thunder and lightning. Get the picture? That's the movie I saw when I read this script. With any luck, that's the Thor movie we'll get.”
One of the villains will be the Destroyer...
Considering the magical suit of armour’s popularity with comic book fans, and its enduring image (which appeared in over four decades of Thor comics), it was sort of a given that Destroyer would appear in the Thor movie.
But it wasn’t until Latino Review were sent a snap of the live action version of the villain that it was all but confirmed Destroyer would be one of the flick’s main nemeses. After publishing a photo of Destroyer on-set, Paramount quickly asked that it be removed.
Who/what is Destroyer? Well, it’s an enchanted suit of armour created by God Odin, and worn by Thor’s half-brother foe Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston).
Destroyer has been responsible for almost killing Thor a number of times, which makes it one hell of an adversary for Chris Hemsworth to go up against. Gods... Will... Clash!
Alexander Skarsgrd was almost Thor...
Before Chris Hemsworth came onboard, Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgård was being tipped as the most likely candidate for the title role.
The True Blood star, who plays devilish vamp Eric in HBO’s sexy, sinewy drama, confirmed during an interview with Black Book that he had auditioned “many, many times” for Thor, but finally lost out.
“I know that they considered me for the part and I got, from what I understand, very close to getting it,” he says.
“And that’s amazing because I know how many guys they look at for a part like that. I was very humbled by that. It was a great experience and you know you win some you lose some, of course I wanted to do that but…”
Better luck next time, Skars. Maybe a villainous role in the sequel would help heal those wounds?
British actors are well-represented...
With a cast that includes classically-trained Tom Hiddleston (above center), Anthony Hopkins and Ray Stevenson fleshing out various roles, Brit talent is well and truly alive in Thor .
Not surprising considering there’s a Brit at the helm. Hiddleston, who previously worked with Branagh on Wallander , will play Thor’s adopted brother Loki, who well and truly turns to the darkside.
“Loki’s like a comic book version of Edmund in King Lear, but nastier,” Hiddleston has said. “Loki’s skilled in black magic and sorcery. He’s a shape-shifter and has all sorts of super powers from the dark arts. He can turn clouds into dragons, things like that.’
Meanwhile Hopkins will play Odin, with Natalie Portman as Earthbound love interest Jane Foster. Joshua Dallas, Ray Stevenson and Tadanobu Asano play Thor’s Warriors Three.
On 1 April, Branagh debunked rumours that he had “clashed” with Anthony Hopkins on set, enthusing:
"It's going very, very well. We're in New [ Mexico ] now where we have a contemporary Earth part of our story. I guess we're two-thirds of the way through the story and at this stage of the game what's surprising and delighting me is the way the cast, the ensemble, has fused together.
“It's kind of an interesting combination of very young and very experienced people and the double-up of that, it seems to me, is there is a lot of fire in the movie. It doesn't take itself too seriously, it doesn't try to be too solemn."
Nick Fury wont be appearing...
After months of speculation and numerous instances of misinformation and press teasing, it was finally confirmed that Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury would not be making an appearance in Thor .
Surprising, considering not only that talk of The Avengers is bubbling along nicely with Joss Whedon at helm (in which Nick Fury plays a big part), but also because Jon Favreau went to great lengths to include Fury in Iron Man 1 and 2.
Says Jackson of his nine picture Marvel deal: “I got started on it when I did the end of Iron Man 1 . My foot was on the path. Now, my foot is a little deeper on the path 'cause we've got Iron Man 2 . I'm not in Thor . I’m supposed to do Captain America this summer in London.”
So why isn’t he in Thor ? “I have no idea. I'm not in charge of making those decisions. I thought I was. They said I was in the trades, and I was like, ‘Oh, I've got a job!’
“And then, I called my agent and she said, ‘Nah, you're not in it. They misprinted.’ I was like, ‘Well shit, they need to pay me just 'cause they put my name in it.’ The Avengers is my own starring vehicle for that character, pretty much.”
Its out on 5th May 2011...
That date’s more significant than it first appears. Originally Thor was in place to be released on 20 May 2011, with Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 4 in line to be released a few weeks before that on 5 May.
But we all know what happened to Raimi’s Spider-Man 4 . So with that franchise currently being cranked painfully through the reboot machine, the 5 May release date was freed up.
Cue some release date shuffles, and Thor claimed the 5th as his own. No word yet when the rebooted Spidey will be swinging into multiplexes, but we can’t imagine we’ll see it until early 2012.
Meanwhile, Disney shoved the fourth Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides into Thor ’s vacated 20 May spot, having previously only given the film a vague summer 2011 release slot.
The costume is medieval future tech-y...
Back in January, Marvel President Kevin Feige Marvel Pres had just seen the screen test for Thor’s superhero costume, and was massively stoked.
“To be honest the thing that I’m most excited about right now though, is the screen test we just finished for Thor,” he said.
“We’ve done some costume tests and watching the Asgardians walk onto the sound stage takes me back to that first time I saw the X-Men on the set all together in Toronto. Only it was unlike anything we’ve ever put on film before!
“It’s great to be starting the next decade in such an exciting way just as we did last decade. We’re really redefining the comic book genre and what a Marvel movie can be. It’s going to be great.”
Meanwhile, costume designer Deborah Ambrosino gave us an indication of what the suit will finally end up looking like.
“[ It’s ] strangely enough, very theatrical,” she says. “There is a lot of fantasy in the different worlds that Thor lives in. The characters that populate that world are fantastical but not superheroes, which is great… there is a heightened realism.”
The designer has also reportedly used her knowledge in metal smithing in order to forge armour and jewellery that will complement the costume’s leatherwork.
Stan Lee has a cameo (naturally)...
Stan Lee is the Alfred Hitchcock of Marvel. He’s had brief cameos in many of the more recent Marvel movies.
To date, he’s been a hotdog stand vendor ( X-Men ), a child-saver ( Spider-Man, Daredevil, Spider-Man 2 ), a pedestrian ( Hulk), a mail delivery man ( Fantastic Four ), and a Hugh Hefner style letch ( Iron Man ).
Of course, Lee’s repertoire is set to continue with Thor . According to Lee’s Twitter feed, the comic scribbler is just as excited as anybody else: “Kenneth Branagh (of course I call him ‘Ken!’) said my cameo’s set for the upcoming Thor movie. To him, it’s a cameo, to me – it’s a role!”
But who does Stan Lee appear as in Thor ? Spoilers ahead for those who don’t want to know...
According to various news sites, this is the scenario that features lee:
Thor’s hammer ( Mjolnir ) is found lying inside a crater in the middle of the road by the U.S. Army. The army tries to move it but can’t because it’s too heavy. They decide to bring in a truck for assistance. The soldiers tie Thor’s hammer to the back of the truck with chains.
The truck driver accelerates to pull Mjohnir. The back half of the truck falls apart as the front keeps moving. Finally, the camera cuts to the driver who happens to be comic legend Stan Lee.
The hero-maker also Tweeted “With [ Branagh ] director, Thor ’s a sure winner”. Here’s hoping, Lee.