Thor has always been the odd-man/god-out of the core Avengers. He doesn’t possess the intelligence of Stark, the humanity of Rogers, or the complexity of Banner — he doesn’t even live on Earth. Not a terribly relatable fellow. Despite these drawbacks, Thor remains one of the lynchpins of the MCU. For many fans, Thor: Ragnarok is a revelation and also the best Marvel movie to-date, precisely because the new film invested in the character’s intelligence, humanity, and complexity.
The original Thor movie, directed by Kenneth Branagh, focused on a conflicted royal family living in a gilded castle on a floating island in space. Thor was an entitled jerk, his brother a manipulative bastard, and his father a brooding, angry old man. Branagh directed the whole thing like a Shakespearian play, and it worked pretty damned well (aside from the goofy scenes on Earth). What’s more surprising was how much was riding on this film’s success.
Branagh is doing the rounds to promote his latest film, Murder on the Orient Express, and spoke with Uproxx, who turned the conversation back to Thor. Branagh shared an insight into the making of Thor, way back in 2011:
“I am most certainly going to see Thor [Ragnarok], and I do care about it, and I’m thrilled that they’re making a third one and I love that director…Remember, there were only two pictures in the Marvel Universe. Iron Man, genius, the first one. [The Incredible] Hulk hadn’t worked as they’d hoped… It was sink or swim before Captain America and then suddenly, oh, it was fine after that. We make Iron Man 2 and Avengers and everything’s tickety-boo. But everybody who was there knows that that was an incredibly sweaty time.”
Are you reading this with a proper English accent in your head?
So, Branagh indicates that a Thor failure might have set the MCU back, or even worse?
“That’s certainly how they felt. No question that Kevin Feige used to say to me, ‘This is the single most difficult tonal challenge for us, to make this movie work in itself and fit into this large universe.’ In fact, I think Thor, and in Chris Hemsworth’s performance, becomes an absolutely integral part.”
Branagh’s Thor was remarkably different from Iron Man and Hulk, which were very human stories about two broken but brilliant men. By contrast, Thor was a spoiled child who only discovers his heroic qualities after getting his ass handed to him multiple times, and then once he gets his hammer back he flies back home. Weird, right? The fact that Branagh made all this work, in retrospect, is kind of amazing.
So how does he feel about the funny, quippy, and laid-back Thor of Ragnarok?
“[Chris Hemsworth] was always, always funny. Always funny. But we also would definitely try to anchor some family drama in that first one, and you try to establish the mythology and the fish-out-of-water thing as well when he comes to Earth… I’m personally really looking forward to what Taika’s done with it. I’m very pleased that they’re not just making the same movie each time. They’re being ballsy.”
Where does the original Thor rank amongst your favorite Marvel films? Let us know in the comments down below!
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