Now that Thor 2 has settled on an official release date, Marvel Studios is pressing ahead on the project by hiring on a screenwriter – even though the sequel is currently without a director, since Kenneth Branagh has officially passed on the opportunity.
Thor co-writer Don Payne has been charged with the task of penning the next big screen adventure with the hammer-wielding warrior, who will be portrayed once again by Chris Hemsworth (after he reprises his turn as the character in next year’s The Avengers).
As Deadline has pointed out, Payne’s superhero movie writing resume encompasses the lackluster comedy My Super Ex-Girlfriend, the underperforming sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and a Lobo comic book adaptation – which is currently stuck in development limbo.
Needless to say, that resume doesn’t exactly inspire a whole lot of confidence about the potential quality of a Thor sequel scripted solely by Payne, who also worked as a co-executive producer/staff writer on The Simpsons from about 2000-2010 (not exactly the best years of the show’s run). Presumably, that means Payne was responsible for a good chunk of the jokes and humor in Branagh’s Thor movie – and that Marvel approved of his work as well. Take that as you will.
Marvel has so far alternated between recruiting a single screenwriter to handle one of its in-house productions and bringing on at least two (sometimes, even half a dozen) writers to fine-tune the scripts for its films. Two or more scripting talents worked on Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger – whereas The Incredible Hulk was written solely by Zak Penn (Elektra, X-Men: The Last Stand) and Justin Theroux was the sole credited writer for Iron Man 2.
That’s all to say: The only “winning” formula for how to create a good Marvel movie so far appears to be… recruit writers who know what they’re doing. Theroux didn’t have any experience adapting comic book material prior to the second Iron Man film, which in part resulted in a weaker final product. Penn, by comparison, might not have proven himself to be a stellar screenwriter in the past, but he had two comic book movies under his belt. Thus, the latter seemingly had a better idea of how to strike the right tone – as well as how to balance plot/character development with action – in the Hulk movie than Theroux did with Iron Man 2.
Will Payne’s work on Thor 2 turn out better than his Fantastic Four sequel? It’s certainly possible, though his resume just doesn’t inspire the same degree of confidence as say Avengers writer/director Joss Whedon’s or Iron Man 3 director/co-writer Shane Black’s. If anything, Payne’s resume suggests that the Thor followup may be more overtly comical (and perhaps even campy) than its predecessor. Again, take that as you will.
Thor 2 is scheduled for theatrical release on July 26, 2013.