The recent barrage of comic book-related TV adaptations has helped keep the genre in the forefront of the film news blogosphere (not that it needed any help). Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series premiere made a couple of indirect references to characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – as well a specific one regarding a certain Norse god of Asgard, whose adventures are to continue later this year in Games of Thrones director Alan Taylor’s Thor: The Dark World

We have updates from the director, along with new comments from Guardians of the Galaxy star Djimon Hounsou about his role as Korath the Pursuer in the intergalactic extravaganza.

Taylor recently talked about the Thor sequel in advance of the last leg of the film’s press before its premiere. Speaking to Total Film (via CBM), Taylor reflects on how much the landscape has changed since he began work on The Dark World:

“When I started this thing, ‘The Avengers’ hadn’t come out and ‘Iron Man 3′ hadn’t made a billion dollars, so the [Marvel] universe was changing as we added ourselves to it, which is daunting in some ways but also exciting to have the momentum.”

Momentum indeed – not to mention the extraordinary pressure. Also, it turns out that the film’s subtitle was nearly an afterthought, but deciding upon it confirmed the tonal shift from the original, while maintaining the relatively light tone (compared to, say, The Dark Knight Rises) that the Marvel films have established.

According to Taylor:

“Halfway through shooting, someone at Disney proposed the title ‘The Dark World’ and that really seemed to confirm the movie we were making and label our tonal intention. So we are the darker chapter, but I think we’re doing the right balancing act of remaining within the tone of Marvel to advance that character’s story but it also has to fit in because every few years all the characters have to join the party and be in ‘Avengers’ movies.”

Following the events of The Avengers, Thor now finds himself permanently involved with the ever-escalating super hero goings-on of Earth, even as he’s expected to remain the guardian of Asgard. Taylor had this to say about Thor’s evolving obligations:

“Thor’s world is colliding with Earth, so there’s fun to be had with where his responsibilities lie, but this delves into the bigger universe, outside of what happened on Earth with ‘Avengers.’ “

One of the most anticipated aspects of Thor: The Dark World is the introduction of the newest supervillain to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Malekith the Accursed, ruler of the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim. Hannibal star Mads Mikkelsen was to originally play the role, but scheduling difficulties led to the casting of Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who).

Alan Taylor was frank about the uphill task Eccleston faced, not only in following bad-guy-for-the-ages Loki (Tom Hiddleston), but also in taking on the villain role in a Marvel movie:

“Finding a way to be a villain in these movies is a really tricky thing. Christopher has been very articulate and useful. There’s a default position which is very easy, you cackle madly and laugh! I think we’ve done a lot of work to make Malekith a three-dimensional character who has an understandable back-story and a motive for what he’s doing.” 

Eccleston himself spoke about the preparations involved in taking the role, which included learning an all new Elven language, in a particularly uncomfortable short span of time.

According to Eccleston, the language was:

“Created by a very talented man, but I’m not sure he’s absolutely a people person that knows the language has to be spoken! So bringing it to life in a short space of time created some tension, but I think that is a supreme example of Alan trying to ground actors in reality. In an odd way, it may provide these villainous guys some pathos; it may just humanize them.”

Alan Taylor lauded Eccelston’s dedication, saying that while donning a rubber suit and speaking Elven can seem ridiculous, “if you do it with conviction, hopefully you can be full on, and he gave it his all.” The new blood in the Thor universe in the form of Taylor and Eccelston is an exciting addition to the saga of a character who, despite finding himself earthbound throughout The Avengers, still stands apart from our world.

Taylor’s early episodes of Game of Thrones were instrumental in establishing that show’s otherworldly-yet-familiar tone, and his touch will prove essential in re-immersing an audience into Thor’s world.

NEXT PAGE: Djimon Hounsou talks about his Guardians of the Galaxy character, Korath the Pursuer!

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