Trailers and images for Thor: The Dark World - this fall's installment in Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe - have made it clear that the sequel will certainly look strikingly different than director Kenneth Branagh's first installment in the God of Thunder's movie franchise. That quality can be attributed to The Dark World helmer Alan Taylor, a longtime TV director who was serving as a co-executive producer on HBO's Game of Thrones just before he signed on to oversee the Thor sequel.
Taylor has spoken before about the storytelling and thematic similarities between the conflicts in author George R.R. Martin's Thrones universe and those in the Nine Realms from Marvel's Thor lore. In a more recent interview, he went into detail about the decision to infuse Asgard with an ancient cultural flavor in Thor: The Dark World - and why that is appropriate, based upon Taylor's interpretation of the attitudes held by the Asgardian population.
On his decision to give The Dark World more of a period-style aesthetic, Taylor told SFX:
“I love doing period stuff, and I was immersed in Game Of Thrones. I was lucky that Marvel seemed to have an appetite for that this time. They’d consciously steered away from that kind of thing in the first one. Because they wanted to make sure they were distinguishing themselves from Lord Of The Rings. They didn’t want to be mistaken for that. But by the time I came along it seemed like they were ready to embrace a slightly more historical attitude towards it.”
There was a time when Thor was considered to be Marvel's biggest risk, given the highly-fantastical nature of the comic book property (translation: it was considered too "out there" to appeal to mainstream moviegoers). However, now that the film has proven a success - in no insignificant part thanks to the screen charisma of Chris Hemsworth in the role of Thor and Tom Hiddleston's emotionally-nuanced performance as Loki - and Marvel is adapting far more "out there" comic book properties (see: Guardians of the Galaxy), it makes sense that the studio would be more willing to accept the "historical attitude" that Taylor had in mind for the second Thor installment.
Hemsworth has been a vocal proponent of Taylor's more organic approach to building the Nine Realms, having told us in an interview that Game of Thrones, like The Dark World, is "set in a reality-based world but there’re fantasy elements which are quite prominent in this," and how that makes the setting comes all the more alive. Taylor had something to say along those lines in his SFX interview, as he discussed the continued use of old-fashioned culture in Asgard:
“In my mind this is an ancient, ancient culture that highly reveres the horse and the culture of the horse. We still use fountain pens because we think they’re really cool – it’s not like we all use laser pens. So I think there’s a living culture that keeps these things. To me the defining thing was that Thor is a superhero amongst many superheroes, but the thing that makes him different is the thing that should be featured in the movie. And that is that he’s also a warrior prince from ancient culture.”
Alan Taylor is directing Thor: The Dark World from a script written by Christopher Yost, along with Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (Captain America: The First Avenger). 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.
Thor: The Dark World opens in selected IMAX 3D theaters on October 30th, 2013, before it begins a general release a week later on November 8th.