One of the things that was most intriuging about Game of Thrones director Alan Taylor being brought onboard to helm Marvel's Thor movie sequel, Thor: The Dark World, was that Taylor created such a grounded and tangible vision of a fantasy world in HBO's acclaimed series - and would conceivably do the same for Thor 2.
Recent interviews with franchise stars like Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston have echoed the idea that Taylor is going to be using more location shooting and less green-screen work to better realize the mythical realms of the Marvel cosmic universe - more so than director Kenneth Branagh did with his digital landscapes of Asgard and Jotunheim in Thor 1.
Set photos of a Thor 2 shooting location in the Bourne Wood, UK, have popped up online - and they immediately establish a different aesthetic and feel for the sequel:
For more images, head over to SHH.
Of course the photos don't reveal much - but at this early stage that's to be expected, as details of Saving Private Ryan writer Robert Rodat's revised script have yet to leak out. Again, the real value of the pictures (and the many like them that are sure to follow as production gets underway this fall) is that they are showcasing a vastly different approach and aesthetic than the original film did.
This UK locale conveys a real sense of ancient, mystical ways and beliefs. It seems like The Dark World will be a grittier film, whose fantastical characters and realms lean more towards actual Norse mythology (save Idris Elba as Heimdall), rather than the hi-tech alien culture Asgard was portrayed as being in the first film. We are always for having more actual greenery than green-screen scenery in the movies we watch (see: The Star Wars original trilogy vs. prequels).
What we do know about Thor 2 so far is that Loki will be hoping for redemption for his naughty ways; Thor will be battling the dark elves of Svartalfheim, their leader Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), queen Alflyse (Alice Krige) and deadly warrior, Algrim the strong; there could be even more realms explored, such as the fire realm of Muspelheim and its fire giant ruler, Surtur; Earth will be featured as well, including returning characters like Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Darcy (Kat Dennings).
With Marvel studios going cosmic with these Thor 2 realms and film franchises like Guardians of the Galaxy - all of which will converge in The Avengers 2 - there's been some worry around our bullpen that The Dark World could suffer from "Iron Man 2-itis." That basically means being a film which is trying to serve too many narrative purposes at once, with not enough core development or focus. It's starting to look like Thor 2 will be covering a lot of space (quite literally), but whether or not the journey will be well-plotted remains to be seen.
Thor: The Dark World will be in theaters on November 8, 2013.