‘Thor: The Dark World’ Director Alan Taylor On the Film’s Look & Asgard Culture

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thor dark world director interview Thor: The Dark World Director Alan Taylor On the Films Look & Asgard Culture

Trailers and images for Thor: The Dark World – this fall’s installment in Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – have made it clear that the sequel will certainly look strikingly different than director Kenneth Branagh’s first installment in the God of Thunder’s movie franchise. That quality can be attributed to The Dark World helmer Alan Taylor, a longtime TV director who was serving as a co-executive producer on HBO’s Game of Thrones just before he signed on to oversee the Thor sequel.

Taylor has spoken before about the storytelling and thematic similarities between the conflicts in author George R.R. Martin’s Thrones universe and those in the Nine Realms from Marvel’s Thor lore. In a more recent interview, he went into detail about the decision to infuse Asgard with an ancient cultural flavor in Thor: The Dark World – and why that is appropriate, based upon Taylor’s interpretation of the attitudes held by the Asgardian population.

On his decision to give The Dark World more of a period-style aesthetic, Taylor told SFX:

“I love doing period stuff, and I was immersed in Game Of Thrones. I was lucky that Marvel seemed to have an appetite for that this time. They’d consciously steered away from that kind of thing in the first one. Because they wanted to make sure they were distinguishing themselves from Lord Of The Rings. They didn’t want to be mistaken for that. But by the time I came along it seemed like they were ready to embrace a slightly more historical attitude towards it.”

There was a time when Thor was considered to be Marvel’s biggest risk, given the highly-fantastical nature of the comic book property (translation: it was considered too “out there” to appeal to mainstream moviegoers). However, now that the film has proven a success – in no insignificant part thanks to the screen charisma of Chris Hemsworth in the role of Thor and Tom Hiddleston’s emotionally-nuanced performance as Loki – and Marvel is adapting far more “out there” comic book properties (see: Guardians of the Galaxy), it makes sense that the studio would be more willing to accept the “historical attitude” that Taylor had in mind for the second Thor installment.

thor dark world alan taylor Thor: The Dark World Director Alan Taylor On the Films Look & Asgard Culture

Hemsworth has been a vocal proponent of Taylor’s more organic approach to building the Nine Realms, having told us in an interview that Game of Thrones, like The Dark World, is “set in a reality-based world but there’re fantasy elements which are quite prominent in this,” and how that makes the setting comes all the more alive. Taylor had something to say along those lines in his SFX interview, as he discussed the continued use of old-fashioned culture in Asgard:

“In my mind this is an ancient, ancient culture that highly reveres the horse and the culture of the horse. We still use fountain pens because we think they’re really cool – it’s not like we all use laser pens. So I think there’s a living culture that keeps these things. To me the defining thing was that Thor is a superhero amongst many superheroes, but the thing that makes him different is the thing that should be featured in the movie. And that is that he’s also a warrior prince from ancient culture.”

Alan Taylor is directing Thor: The Dark World from a script written by Christopher Yost, along with Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (Captain America: The First Avenger). The film stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano, Jaimie Alexander, Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins.


Thor: The Dark World opens in selected IMAX 3D theaters on October 30th, 2013, before it begins a general release a week later on November 8th.

Source: SFX

Follow Sandy Schaefer on Twitter @feynmanguy
TAGS: Thor, Thor 2
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  1. He lost me at, “laser pens”.

    • Im on the fence with Taylor. Granted, his work on GOT and infusing ”some” of his ideas into Thor: the Dark World will work, but remaking a LoTR into Asgardian mythos is a bad idea. Based on the fact that this IS a sequel and NOT a remake, let’s stick to the same formula that Branagh and company established by keeping Asgard a true eternal city rife with magic AND technology. By saying Asgard is an ancient culture is true, but we’re not talking ancient Norway and Sweden here, these are gods and should be handled as such. Thor said it himself: “magic and science are one and the same there” (referring to Asgard) Dont deviate away from the way Asgard and Asgardians are portrayed

  2. One of things I’m most looking forward to seeing in Thor 2 is Alan Taylor’s approach.
    I wasn’t a fan of the whole “Asgardians are actually kinda aliens with advanced technology” idea. It was an interesting thing to explore, but with this franchise, in my opinions, they need to stay focused on the fantasy (more LOTR) aspect, and less so on the sci-fi.
    It’s understandable that they wanted to keep things kind of in the same vein (mainly so that the Avengers could look and feel natural standing next to one another on screen), but now that that’s done and people have accepted and warmed to that idea, I think they can push the boundaries a bit.

    • I agree. The “advanced technology” explanation is cringe-worthy. Honestly I think Thor is pretty ridiculous, but I figured he’d be fun in a team movie. And that turned out to be the case, so I’m interested in seeing this movie. And I do like Loki. He’s been a great movie villain, to my surprise.

      • But wasn’t it that way in the comic books? Asgardians are aliens with advanced tech and that’s why they were able to show up a lot back in the day and become worshipped as powerful gods?

        • Not really, until the Warren Ellis 4 parter with Deodato. That story clearly implied this, but before that, they were Gods, period.


          • I really liked the explanation provided by Earth X back then.

  3. I am pretty psyched for this. Hopefully it rocks!

  4. I’m thinking Marvel is going to go dark for Thor, darker for Captain America, lighter with GOTG, and then dark again with AaoU. I think the whole Phase two will be steering things into Star Wars Empire Strikes Back territory, only on a multi-movie level.

    • We all thought Iron Man 3 would be darker and have higher stakes so I’m not so sure we should be making assumptions like that (expectations might not be met, ya know?)

      • I will make a prediction (you may want to sit down for this one) that with every SH movie, somehow expectations won’t be met.

        Bold, I know, but I’ll stand by it.

        Anyway, I really like IM3. I thought the twist was awesome. There were some things like the cute kid and the extremis powers, and Tony’s unconvincing shell-shock, but overall I really liked it. That’s me.

        Anyway, I’m not predicting how well Marvel will pull it off, I’m just thinking this is their plan. But succeed or fail, I’m impressed with the chances they are taking with the directions and movies like GotG and Ant-man.

        • I dunno man, for me SH movies like Avengers and TDKR proves that expectations can be met (and exceeded).
          There will always be a select few that will have problems with things (with any movie, really), but generally speaking, if the movie’s good, it should be able to meet most people’s expectations.

          • For me, Avengers definitely didn’t meet my expectations but IM3, the majority of Phase 1 Marvel movies, The Wolverine and TDK trilogy surpassed them.

        • You lost me at – “I really like IM3. I thought the twist was awesome.”

      • I wonder, if they had just named the Villan “Yellow Claw” or some other similar Iron Man foe and not used The Mandarin (leaving a potentially faithful version to more familiar comic version), would the comic-knowledgeable fan backlash have been so severe?

        Guy Pierce’s Killian was great (maybe a bit over the top in his Geek-to-Chic transformation, but….) and if he had just been a particularly special version of the thermo-regenerative super beings I would have preferred that.

        Instead, he actually says I AM THE MANDARIN and pretty much kills any chance we’ll see a Magic/Alien Tech head of the 10 Rings alluded to in IM1. Which had a cool Batman/League of Shadows full circle feel to it.

        • ‘m not even really referring to the Mandarin specifically, just in general: the trailers gave the impression that the movie would be darker and would really put Stark through his paces. I still liked the movie a lot, and RDJ’s performance was awesome (the way we got to see a different side of Tony Stark), but really… was there ever much of a threat? It didn’t feel like “Tony Stark was back in the cave” as Kevin Feige kept saying…

          So yeah, the Mandarin thing still bothers me, but more than that, if not for the Mark 64 being a prototype and breaking every 15 minutes, would he really have had so much trouble taking down AIM?

        • I agree they should have stopped at Trevor and left the Mandarin mantle to imagination and let Killian simply be out for revenge with his extremis technology minus the fire-breathing and dragon tattoos. Also I understand that RDJ wanted Paltrow to have more of a stake in this film but couldn’t they have had her just kill a bunch of extremis bots rather than our main villain and leave it to the movies namesake to not only overcome his PTSD but his corporate rival with a last ditch effort by mark 42 (or whatever) coming to his aid.

          Bout that Thor: TDW though. Excited to see Taylor’s more historical approach. Ancient warrior prince sounds very promising. Should be very majestic and full of battles.

      • RDJ as Tony Stark was always the comic relief. I don’t get why people think now they will make all the heroes that way. Some characters are light, some are darker.

        • Not all the heroes. Just watch the trailers for IM3 or watch some of the interviews: They promised something and what we got wasn’t it at all.
          In some ways that’s good because there was that surprise factor, but on the other hand, I walked in wanting to see Tony Stark really struggle for once (like he did in the first two acts of IM1). I loved the PTSD, but other than that there wasn’t much of a struggle (be it inner conflict or exterior).

  5. Game of Thrones has 2 co-showrunners: David Benioff and Dan Weiss.

    As far as I know, Alan Taylor is not and has never been a co-showrunner of Game of Thrones. He is a director and has directed 6 episodes of the show so far.

  6. Now if you wanted to say “co-executive producer”, then that’s correct. There is a fine distinction between the two terms.

    • Indeed. Did they change the article after you posted this?


  7. I am ready to buy the DVD on this, and have not even seen the movie yet!

  8. I’m sick of Thor’s hair. I want his helmet on. For the whole movie. Keeps making me think of Venom’s mask peeling back except when he needed to growl.