New concept art for Avengers: Infinity War reveals that Thor didn't always create Stormbreaker. Though his second one-on-one bout with the Mad Titan Thanos follows a side quest in which Thor helps forge the mighty axe himself, his side quest didn't originally play out the way events take place in the movie.
As far as weapons are concerned, Thor has always been portrayed with his mighty hammer Mjölnir in the MCU. However, after his sister Hela destroyed it in Thor: Ragnarok, his subsequent path turned into a journey of self-discovery from which he ultimately discovered that his powers stem from within, not a weapon. That said, his battle against Thanos required something significantly stronger, and his expedition to Nidavellir with Groot and Rocket resulted in the dangerous formation of Stormbreaker - a task that might have been impossible had someone as powerful as Thor not been present. According to some early concept art, however, this wasn't always the plan.
In Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War - The Art of the Movie, early concept art for the movie depict an entirely different journey that Thor takes on his quest to find Stormbreaker. Senior Visual Development Artist Rodney Fuentebella explains that Stormbreaker wasn't made, but found. During their quest, Thor, Rocket, and Groot originally had to find the axe - which had already been constructed - buried underground in the remains of what appears to be a dead creature.
Not only would Stormbreaker's alternative origins have been a major conceptual change for Avengers: Infinity War, it would have gone so far as to remove the Dwarf King Eitri (Peter Dinklage) from the movie entirely. What's more is that other examples of early concept art reveal that Thor, Groot, and Rocket's journey might have been entirely different from what ultimately ended up on screen . In other images, the trio is seen landing their escape pod on a largely barren planet that doesn't appear to be any of the locations featured in the movie, while other images feature a battle that involves Thor and Rocket fighting what appears to be a Midgard Serpent (Thor has Stormbreaker at this point in time).
The alternative journey may have opened the door for another action sequence with the trio - going so far as to show off Stormbreaker's strength before the final showdown with Thanos - but it would have gotten in the way of some serious character growth. Not only did Thor nearly die in his pursuit to create Stormbreaker, Groot was able to display some selfless heroism in giving Stormbreaker its handle. And, as fun as it might have been to see Thor and Rocket go head-to-head with a giant beast, the final journey in Avengers: Infinity War turned out to be the most narratively satisfying.
Source: Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War - The Art of the Movie
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