Arguably the most challenging property for Marvel Studios to develop and market on the path to The Avengers was Thor thanks to its relatively outlandish story and characters. By comparison, Hulk already had a few movies and a classic television series under his belt; Iron Man was by then a mainstream success; and Captain America had 70 years of history on his side and some major headlines in recent years thanks to his “death” in the comics.
Thor, on the other hand, was (literally) out of this world and introducing the cosmic side of Marvel Comics to mainstream moviegoers among more grounded character stories from Cap, Iron Man and Hulk was no easy task. Add in the risk of casting relatively unfamiliar faces into the two lead roles and banking on Thor to serve as a prelude to The Avengers, and Marvel Studios owes a substantial chunk of its success to the performances of Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston.
In chatting with SFX for next week’s UK release of The Avengers (titled Avengers Assemble in the region) on home video, Hiddleston recounted his experiences working with Joss Whedon and the cast behind Marvel’s biggest movie yet.
On working with Joss Whedon:
“What impressed me the most about Joss initially was the incredible screenplay we had to work with on Marvel’s The Avengers. Directing this film was a feat in itself, but his screenplay was phenomenal. I’m sure none of us really knew what to expect, but I take my hat off to Joss for that. He was incredibly open and that’s what you want as an actor: you want to collaborate. Everyone has a certain level of ownership of their character and Joss was very respectful of that possession. He would constantly ask us, ‘Does this feel right for your character? Does this feel true to you? Is this in your voice?'”
On learning that the character of Loki would move straight from Thor to leading an army against The Avengers the following year:
“Kevin Feige suggested Loki would be part of The Avengers storyline when I got cast in Thor, but I was so busy trying to build the character that I couldn’t think about it. I knew perfectly well that if I was rubbish in Thor, I wouldn’t get anywhere near The Avengers. That’s when I thought I’d just take everything one step at a time.”
“Towards the end of the Thor shoot, Joss Whedon came into Marvel for a script meeting and he asked Kenneth Branagh to see a rough cut of Thor. Joss wanted to see what he could do with Chris Hemsworth and where to take the character of Thor, as well as Loki. Joss loved it so much that we went for a cup of tea and we had a long, fantastic conversation where we swapped loads of ideas. Joss said to me, “There’s been some talk of multiple villains in this movie, but I think you can do it on your own,” which was the most incredible compliment. I had a mountain to climb after that.”
When Kenneth Branagh was hired to direct Thor, Hiddleston (whom Branagh worked with in Wallander) was one of the many candidates who read for the title role. He even made it into the shortlist of top choices before being handed the role he was better (perfectly?) suited for in Loki. Little did Hiddleston know at the time he would be having a lead role in blockbuster films three years in a row.
Joss Whedon directed the post-credits button at the end of Thor which served as a lead-in to The Avengers where Loki was confirmed to be returning as at least one of the antagonists. At the time, Whedon was rewriting The Avengers script by Zak Penn where at one point, the Red Skull could have been the main villain of the film. As we know now, Loki ended up being the headliner who led the alien invasion, but he answered to someone – Thanos (via his henchman, The Other).
The followup Thor: The Dark World began shooting in early September 2012 in the UK and picks up where The Avengers left off with Loki in incarceration for his crimes against Asgard and Earth. Loki’s story arc will explore new territory as Hiddleston’s character will show his sensitive side on his path to acceptance and redemption as Thor and co. face new and much greater threats across multiple realms. Where Loki and Tom Hiddleston go next, we’ll have to wait and see…
[Update: By now you’ve likely seen Thor: The Dark World which is currently in theaters and now we have a greater idea of where Loki is headed to in the future. Reading ahead will subject you to spoilers for Thor 2.]
In the final months leading up to the early international release of Thor: The Dark World extra sequences were shot to give Tom Hiddleston more screen time, specifically the scene at the beginning where Odin (Anthony Hopkins) sentences him to life in prison. This was done to give a scene where Hiddleston and Hopkins share the screen (they don’t any other time in the film) and to remind fans or newcomers of what Loki did and why he spends his time in the Asgardian dungeons.
Throughout the course of the film, Thor needs Loki’s help to find another way to the other realms without using the Bifrost/rainbow bridge and out of slight sense of obligation and loyalty to Asgard and his mother Frigga, Loki obliges under threat of death should he betray Thor and friends again. In an interesting twist for moviegoers, the film’s primary antagonist Malekith sees Loki betray Thor and cut off his hand but it is all an elaborate move of deception. Loki genuinely displays concern for Thor and Jane Foster, even saving them. But as always, Loki has the bigger picture on his mind and it’s all a part of his larger plans – to gain a throne.
After Malekith is defeated and Thor is ready to become King of Asgard, he instead chooses to remain on Earth with Jane, choosing to be a protector of Earth and the realms, but not as its king – as least, not yet. This, as it turns out, is the reason Loki fights so hard for Jane Foster to survive, him knowing that Jane would make Thor choose Earth over his Asgardian birthright, leaving the throne vulnerable for takeover. The final scene of the film shows Odin begrudgingly letting Thor leave, although it’s not really Odin at all – Loki has usurped him and is currently the ruler of Asgard under the disguise of Odin.
Where is the real Odin? Why is Loki willing to lead under someone else’s face and name? What will he do with the power? We’ve heard repeatedly from Tom Hiddleston himself, The Avengers: Age of Ultron writer/director Joss Whedon and Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige that Loki isn’t involved at all in the seemingly Earth-only Avengers sequel but we know The Dark World leaves Asgard and its characters in an interesting spot come time for Thor 3 which we expect to see in theaters in 2016. That is where we will see Tom Hiddleston’s Loki once again.
Update (June 23 2015): A casting sheet for Avengers: Infinity War reveals that Tom Hiddleston’s Loki may be included, continuing off his next appearance in Thor: Ragnarok.
Directed by Kenneth Branagh and written by Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz and Don Payne, Thor stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings, Idris Elba, Ray Stevenson, Rene Russo, Clark Gregg, Jaimie Alexander, Colm Feore, Tadanobu Asano, Joshua Dallas and Joe Gatt.
Alan Taylor directs Thor 2 off of Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely’s screenplay. 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.
Ant-Man opens in theaters July 17, 2015; Captain America: Civil War – May 6, 2016; Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man reboot – July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Black Panther – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – November 2, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019.