Two years ago, the announcement that Kenneth Branagh direct Marvel’s Thor was greeted with more confusion than anything else.  Branagh (as a director) is most famous for his Shakespearean film adaptations – especially his four-hour version of Hamlet and his version of Much Ado About Nothing, which featured Keanu Reeves of all people. Simply put, Branagh’s decision to take on what will surely be an effects-heavy epic action flick seemed an odd one.

However, in an interview with the LA Times this week, Branagh shed some light why he took on Thor, what fans can expect, and why the rumors about Anthony Hopkins caushing problems on the Thor set are rubbish.

According to Branagh himself:

“Growing up, my single comic book passion was Thor.  From my time in Belfast as a kid, that’s the first time I came across that comic, really, exclusively, I don’t know why, but it struck a chord. I was drawn to it. I liked all the dynastic drama.”

The Thor comic book series began in 1962 (the same month as Spider-Man in fact) and takes place in both the realm of the Norse Gods (Asgard) and modern-day Earth.  Obviously, the idea of Thor himself – a winged-hat wearing viking with a magical hammer who spouts old-English adages – tromping around in the 21st century sounds like ripe comic material, but Branagh seems intent on playing it straight.

As he rather eloquently puts it:

“It’s about finding the framing style, the colour palette, finding the texture and the amount of camera movement that helps celebrate and express the differences and the distinctions in those worlds. If it succeeds, it will mark this film as different…. The combination of the primitive and the sophisticated, the ancient and the modern, I think that potentially is the exciting fusion, the exciting tension in the film.”

Branagh has also managed to put together a well-regarded cast for the flick, with Chris Hemsworth (a.k.a. Kirk’s father in the recent Star Trek reboot) as Thor, Natalie Portman as his mortal lover Jane Foster, and Sir Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Thor’s disapproving father.  Like Hopkins himself, Branagh dismissed the rumors that the elderly actor is being heavily critical of Hemsworth’s performance and is the cause of much strife on the set.

Hopkins, according to Branagh himself, is “an extraordinary actor with his Celtic passion and incredible technique.” He further insisted that the shoot was going very well, nearly 2/3rds of the way complete, and that the film is “an interesting combination of very young and very experienced people and the double up of that, it seems to me, is there is a lot of fire in the movie. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, it doesn’t try to be too solemn.”

You can check out more of what Branagh has to say over at LA Times.

So what do you think?  Is Thor looking more and more like the next big Marvel hit?  Or does Branagh just sound like he’s doing some PR course correction for the film?

Either way, Thor is slated to hit theaters May 6, 2011 so look for a lot more updates over the next year.

Source: LA Times, Empire Online