Chris Hemsworth has revealed he was disappointed at the end result of The Huntsman: Winter’s War. The fantasy action movie, in which Hemsworth played the titular hatchet-wielding forest warrior with charismatic swagger and a Scottish accent of varying credibility, was released in 2016 to a largely negative reception from critics and audiences.
The character of the Huntsman originated in fairy tale adaptation Snow White and the Huntsman, in which Hemsworth starred alongside Kristen Stewart as the famous princess and Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen. Despite middling reviews it was a surprise success, making nearly $400 million against a budget of $170 million, so a follow up was quickly greenlit. Winter’s War acts as both a prequel and a sequel, with some events that predate Snow White and provide a backstory for the Huntsman, and others that follow on from it in a new story resulting from its fallout, each part of the plot being relevant to its single narrative involving the Huntsman Eric and his wife Sara (Jessica Chastain) battling the Ice Queen Freya (Emily Blunt), a version of the Snow Queen from the Danish fairy tale of the same name.
The subject of Hemsworth’s thoughts about Winter’s War came up during an interview with Variety that looked back at his whole career, stating that while filming he remained unsure about the film’s purpose and its differing tone. His statement reads as follows.
“I don’t think we ever landed on the point of the film. I thought we wanted to make a not-as-dark version. I felt like I was in a different movie. I was doing one thing, and there were these quite dramatic performances, which were brilliant.”
Winter’s War was originally set to be a straight sequel, but initial production was complicated by a scandal involving returning director Rupert Sanders cheating on his wife with Stewart, delaying production and complicating exactly in what direction it would be taken and with whom. It eventually moved forwards without Sanders and Stewart, although the latter would later state that none of the sequel scripts she had read were any good and she was happy not to have been involved, also turning down a request to cameo in the single scene her character is afforded.
Hemsworth’s thoughts on The Huntsman: Winter’s War don’t come as much of a surprise. The film was a mess of confusing retcons, uninvolving melodrama and distracting tonal shifts, while each attempt to justify Snow White’s absence only serves to highlight how artificial it feels. It may have fared better had the film been a separate story unconnected to Snow White or its events and characters, forging its own path instead of trying to link itself to a film it paradoxically also tries to distance itself from, creating an imbalance of purpose that throws off exactly how it was supposed to be received without the central character of its predecessor to justify its existence. It’s a distinctly average film at best, and in the lists Hemsworth vehicles it remains justifiably forgotten.