‘Thor 2′ Director Talks Marvel Movie Difficulties & Importance of Humor

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Thor The Dark World Interview Alan Taylor Thor 3 Thor 2 Director Talks Marvel Movie Difficulties & Importance of Humor

We won’t know if Thor: The Dark World is a spectacular installment in Marvel’s Phase Two lineup until the superhero sequel hits theaters – but one thing we do know, is that Game of Thrones director Alan Taylor will probably be making Thor 2 his only stop in the Marvel movie universe for the forseeable future. Taylor is taking over directorial duties on the sequel from Thor director Kenneth Branagh – who himself was one of Marvel’s burned-out directors from the Phase One lineup, alongside Captain America helmer Joe Johnston and Iron Man director Jon Favreau.

Phase Two has introduced an unlikely lineup of replacements for the solo character sequels: Shane Black (Lethal Weapon) divided fans with his vision of Iron Man 3; Taylor excited fans by bringing a gritty Game of Thrones clout to Thor’s world; and Community Arrested Development directors Anthony and Joe Russo pretty much shocked everyone with their action-packed Captain America 2 trailer. But while there has been potential for more creative freedom in Phase Two – thanks to the box office success Marvel has enjoyed – it seems that some of the problems with Marvel moviemaking policy during Phase One are still rearing their head in Phase Two.

For background on the discussion: During Marvel Phase One we asked the question of whether serving the needs of a shared universe ultimately forced solo films to suffer by not allowing them enough room to breath and function on their own. After The Avengers hit theaters, suffice to say that most fans felt the sacrifices of solo film storytelling were worth the epic adventure of a team-up film; however, with that billion-dollar Avengers box office came a solidified blueprint for Marvel’s billion-dollar brand.

avengers 2 small banner Thor 2 Director Talks Marvel Movie Difficulties & Importance of Humor

Whereas DC has focused on darker, grittier, “realistic” character-centric stories, Marvel has conversely relied on fantasy action/adventure lightness to sell their superhero films.  And even though Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has promised that the films in the Phase Two lineup will be taking more risks and blending in more genre tropes (sci-fi, political thrillers, buddy cop action-comedy, etc…), it seems – at least hearing it from Alan Taylor – that there are still some strict borders on what filmmakers can and can not do with Marvel movies.

Speaking at the London junket for Thor: The Dark World, Taylor said the following in response to a question about early praise for the sequel’s improved comedy:

ALAN TAYLOR: Um, yeah, I’m, I’m so grateful to hear that that’s what’s coming back from the audience as they start to see the film for the first time. I think I went into it, and I thought my first task was to darken the world and deepen it and dirty it up a little bit. Um, I sort of felt like that was my mandate going in. And then as we started the process, I realized, “Oops. Um, if we’re gonna darken it, if we’re gonna deepen it…we’d better make darn sure that it’s balanced on the other side.” Because the, you know, the key to the Marvel universe and the Marvel language that I was being assaulted by while I was making this movie -‘cause “Avengers” came out while we were starting it, and “Iron Man 3” came out while we were finishing it – was you are screwed if you don’t also keep it funny and light on its feet at the same time. So it’s, it’s called “The Dark World,” and there’s certainly dark currents in it, um, but, yeah, the humor was critical.

On the one hand it is great to hear that things won’t be TOO serious in Thor’s next adventure, because for all the punchlines it may have missed (see: Kat Denning’s character, Darcy) the first Thor does have its fair share of iconic laughs (see below) and one would hope that the writers of the sequel learned from some of the criticisms about the first film, and subsequently improved upon the humor.

However, reading between the lines and getting past the obvious point: Taylor’s words hint at the frustration and chaos that go with trying to create a movie in the midst of string-theory universe that is constantly in flux in terms of storylines and character developments. We know that Thor 2 was hit with script revisions and even reshoots to add more Loki - and when we talked to him 1-on-1, Taylor (even with better media training than his Phase One counterparts) seemed to indicate that this was a one-time experiment for him.

As he said when I asked if he would be willing to jump back into the Marvel movie sandbox:

You mean start all over again? No. It was fun and quite an adventure, but… almost 2 years – too long away from family. But I’d be willing to – and eager to take on another big adventure just not go back and redo the same one. But you didn’t really mean remake Thor 2, did you? [Laughs]. One of the things that’s exciting and keeps us on the edge of our seats about Marvel is that they never announce what they’re going to do until the last minute. Will there be a Thor 3? I certainly hope so. They’ll probably wait until this one comes out before they let the world know. Thor will be back in Avengers 2, and I think he certainly deserves a Thor 3, but that’s up to the gods are Marvel to decide.

My experience with Marvel is that they are literally making it up as they go. They have a grand vision that we’ve been witnessing in Phase I, Phase II and Phase III, but literally, in the details, they make it up as they go – and I saw that up-close and personal when we were doing [Thor 2], when major elements were being worked out, really, in the making of the movie.

We certainly know from talking from the Thor 2 cast and Marvel Studios Head Kevin Feige that the future of the Marvel Movie Universe is indeed uncertain  - there might not even be a Thor 3 for years to come (never?) if you and your friends don’t turn out to $upport Thor 2. And even with new details seeming to reveal a definite storyline leading up to Avengers 3, even that roadmap could be altered at a moment’s notice, if  creative (or more importantly, economic) factors dictate that it should.

Alan Taylor on set of Thor 2 Thor 2 Director Talks Marvel Movie Difficulties & Importance of Humor

All of this summates to a very difficult balancing act for any director to maintain. Superhero films that are more disconnected or standalone have tended to be the most enjoyable (Iron Man, The Dark Knight Trilogy) – but as Iron Man 3 demonstrated, Marvel now faces a more pressing challenge in that “standalone” is a hard thing to achieve when fans of your universe notice things like the total evaporation of S.H.I.E.L.D. presence in the movies  - even while the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. B-team is running around on our TV screens every week. That creates the sort of continuity questions that need answers, and the sort of headaches that creators like Taylor must endure while trying to carve out their own vision.

But until fans actually see Thor: The Dark World, there’s no way to know if Alan Taylor’s seeming departure is a great loss or not. Of course, if he is a godsend (see what I did there?) for the franchise, and it ends scoring big box office numbers, there’s always that dump truck full of money that could lure even the most scorned director back to a troublesome franchise….

________________________

Thor: The Dark World will be in theaters on October 30th (UK) and November 8th (US).

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TAGS: thor, thor 2, thor 3

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  1. I have seen Thor 2, and it is quite funny. More humor than the first, with some stand out moments.

    • I hate people who laugh at the joke thats been replayed in commercials constantly.

  2. I think you have too much humor being forced in to the script (going on the conversation between Thor and Loki during the recent flight sequence) but Marvel movie goers seem to love it so why not give the majority what they want. Be interesting to see how Cap America 2 turns out? from the first trailer it doesn’t seem to be a joke fest which for me is better.

  3. The risk with injecting humor is in aiming
    to please you might miss and create cheese.

    • Were you going for irony, Rock? :D

      • Busted :D

  4. Its certainly understandable with the humor thing. A lot of us fans might want them to go all dark and somber but these are 200 million dollar movies. The humor allows them to hit a much bigger base and hence make more money to cover those extravagant costs. I know quite a few people/co-workers who view these marvel movies as opportunities for big family outings.

    I get how it can be frustrating for some comic fans but the Marvel formula works, it really works. And from a business perspective they have no incentive to change it until they fail. And i don’t see that happening in the near future.

  5. The humor is pretty seamless in some instances. There was one excellent standout moment that the audience (myself included) exploded over. I can only think of one instance where the joke was jarring, but I won’t spoil when and what was happening. The flight scene was slightly out on context because while it was serious, there was a flow between the scenes before and after that scene that made it less out of place.

    • Ok Andrew, without spoilers what rating would you give Thor 2?

      • Before I answer, I should note that my standards for movies are flawed. As long as I enjoy a good portion of the film, it will be favorable to me. On that note, let’s dive in.

        Within the Marvel movies, I would rate it at 8.5 (My least favorite of the movies was IM2 and most favorite is both avengers and IM3. It’s hard to pick one of the other because both have negatives but I think once I watch Thor 2 again it might hit that high point). It’s fun to have a film where Thor isn’t bereft of his powers for a large portion. I know in the avengers he has his powers but he shares screen time with everybody. I enjoyed it immensely. Had some good laughs, saw some good ass kicking. Enjoyed most of the plot.

        Action: 8.5/10
        Humor: 9/10 (I like what they did. Except for that jarraing sequence i mentioned)
        Plot: 7/10
        Implications for future movies: 10/10 They set up some interesting points. Like the article about the mid credits scene stated (dont read the next sentence if you want to remain pure, im only referencing what was said in that article though so if you read the article you’re fine) Guardians of the Galaxy is in it and they have indeed tied the worlds together.

        In relation to other movies: 7/10. It’s an enjoyable film. I had fun. But there are people who want more from a filmmakers perspective. This rating is like in terms of critics and oscars. I dont put much weight behind it. I’d look at my marvel rating.

        It’s a comic book movie. It’s made for fun.

        I think the Thor storyline is slightly more serious than the Iron Man stroyline. I can’t speak for Cap because Winter Soldier isn’t out yet. But Tony Stark deals with, to me, slightly less galactic implication type problems. Thor’s the prince of asgard, guardian of the realms!

        I hope this give’s an idea of what to expect. I think if you enjoyed what Marvel has put out so far, you’ll enjoy this too. Everyone at the screening did.

        If anyone wants to know about the movie and isn’t afraid of spoilers, feel free to reply and we can set something up to spare the rest of the readers.

        • And yes, I would watch it again!

          • I think this is better than Ironman3.

      • 7/10 is way to high IMHO. Nothing important at all happens in this movie except for the next movie teaser? Is this why we go to movies now, to forget about the whole thing in favor of the teaser? That’s what this movie really is: forgettable with a teaser to keep everyone buzzing.
        The action is cool at parts and yawn at others Marvel. Also right when you start getting deep into anything serious someone tells a joke, just like IM 3 only cornier.
        The humor once again is forced (literally this time, read what Alan Taylor says) and serves more as a distraction than anything else.
        On its own, this movie is weak. If you no longer pay for movies but pay for a movie just so you can start talking about the next thing, then go see Thor 2.

        • @ Raymond @ Andrew

          …and I give both of your FAKE REVIEWS an F.

          • Why is my review fake?

            Weak maybe, but not fake. I’ve seen the movie. Special Annual Passholder event at Disneyland this past monday. I could tell you the entire story right now.

        • Again I enjoyed it so I gave a favorable score, I know from a movie critic/oscar award perspective there are negatives. I personally wouldn’t have cared if it set up the rest of the Marvel universe. The fact that there are consequences for the characters (within the Thor storyline) that could potentially be resolved in a sequel is enough for me. And some important things do happen, and I do want to see what the effects are.

          It’s a comic book movie, so it’s like reading a comic book series, if you read an issue and it’s good, you’ll want to read the next one

        • This is an excellent film. To those who said that “nothing important happened here” is either lying through their keyboards because he has not seen this film and is only trying to derail people’s excitement for the movie, or he has some serious comprehension disorder. (right, Raymond?)

          The very last scene in Asgard sent shivers through my very core. It has some serious implications for the final fate of a major character, and the final evil turn of another major character. This movie needs another movie, because by everything that is holy, it really cannot end THAT way. No effin way!

          And about the humor…people are making too much of a fuss on that one. Nothing was over the top that it made the movie cheesy, and all the humors in the film came in small doses in order to keep it from being too boring. But if you think humor will make this seem less epic, tell that to the millions upon millions of fans of the Star Wars Original Trilogy movies, and see why complaining about humor in a comic book film is bordering on mere nit-picking to just being a pretentious snob.

          • Exactly, I didn’t want to go so far with saying what might happen and who it involves, but that last scene that you refer to is definitely something that I want to see resolved. I mean that’s why i gave it a 10/10 for implications, cause if Marvel wills it, s*** will go down.

            On a side note, I love the strength, or at least conviction, of Thor in this film. While his choices are debatable, he has definitely grown from the petulant boy shouting at his father that he is an old man and a fool. The events of the end of Thor and then Avengers have tempered him, and I believe Alan Taylor has continued that trend in Thor 2. Thor seems fit to be king now.

        • Were you watching the same film?

          Thor 2 The Dark World is epic, and after watching it once last week I will be going again.

          Don’t listen to the fanboy haters.

          • Oh yeah it’s great fun. I’m going again midnight this thursday

  6. When you’re running around on a Rainbow Bridge with Fabio-hair, one has to be able to laugh at one’s enterprise….

    • Maybe he’s Bjorn with it. Maybe it’s Mjolnir.

  7. no hard feelings Point Break

  8. Not a fan of a majority of the humor in the marvel universe. Ironman 1 was masterful at balancing quick witted humor with a dramatic overtone. Everything else hasnt been quite as balanced

  9. The Matrix’ trilogy and ‘Cloud Atlas’ directors Andy and

  10. That’s the overall issue with Marvel’s films – balance. Keeping things entertaining but at the same time providing a compelling and powerful storyline that leaves an impression.

    It’s why after all these years Superman & Superman 2 remain the benchmark. Having light hearted moments but never letting those moments affect the serious tone of the story.

    • Except those first two Superman movies only remain classics because they were the first to be worth watching but watching them now, they’re utterly cringe-worthy cheese-fests.

      I honestly only enjoy Terence Stamp’s contempt and arrogance as General Zod, the rest of the experience I just try to blot out or forget the moment the end credits roll.

      I also like when superhero movies go really dark if the hero or situation in question calls for it.

  11. This will be the first REAL Marvel film since Avengers.

  12. If I want to laugh, I will see a comedy. People will pay to see Thor Dark World whether it has humor in it or not. Doesnt really matter.

  13. I suppose I should prepare myself for the humor. The trailers haven’t shown much of it at all.

  14. well, alan taylor’s experience sure portrays the downside to the shared universe thing, with his being assaulted with mandates from marvel’s micro managers. the first iron man movie remain the mark to me on how to properly balance what marvel aims for in it’s movies. humor or serious tones when the moment calls for it.

  15. Thor 2 now, please!

  16. I’ve just kinda come to the realization that DC make graphic novel movies and Marvel make comic book movies. I like both, but can only stomach a steady supply of CBM’s, but the occasional GNM is nice to have. I cannot see DC cracking the CBM code any time soon. For more frequent films, they need to appeal to a more varied audience and some humour to cleanse the pallet. As Mary Poppin’s sang “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”.

  17. vie just so you can start talking about the next thing, then go see Thor 2.

    Reply
    Dr Mindbender 2 days ago
    @ Raymond @ Andrew

    …and I give both of your FAKE REVIEWS an F.

    Reply
    Andrew 2 days ago
    Why is my review fake?

    Weak maybe, but not fake. I’ve seen the movie. Special Annual Passholder event at Disneyland this past monday. I could tell you the entire story right now.

    Reply
    Andrew 2 days ago
    Again I enjoyed it so I gave a favorable score, I know from a movie critic/oscar award perspective there are negatives. I personally wouldn’t have cared if it set up the rest of the Marvel universe. The fact that there are consequences for the characters (within the Thor storyline) that could potentially be resolved in a sequel is enough for me. And some important things do happen, and I do want to see what the effects are.

    It’s a comic book movie, so it’s like reading a comic book series, if you read an issue and it’s good, you’ll want to read the next one

    Reply
    mighty_thor less than a minute ago
    This is an excellent film. To those who said that “nothing important happened here” is either lying through their keyboards because he has not seen this film and is only trying to derail people’s excitement for the movie, or he has some serious comprehension disorder. (right, Raymond?)

    The very last scene in Asgard sent shivers through my very core. It has some serious implications for the final fate of a major character, and the final evil turn of another major character. This movie needs another movie, because by everything that is holy, it really cannot end THAT way. No effin way!

    And about the humor…people are making too much of a fuss on that one. Nothing was over the top that it made the movie cheesy, and all the humors in the film came in small doses in order to keep it from being too boring. But if you think humor will make this seem less epic, tell that to the millions upon millions of fans of the Star Wars Original Trilogy movies, and see why complaining about humor in a comic book film is bordering on mere nit-picking to just being a pretentious snob.