[UPDATE: We now have some official information about the plot of Thor 2. Read on...]
[SECOND UPDATE: Patty Jenkins is officially set to direct Thor 2]
Thor 2 is already locked for a Summer 2013 release date, with screenwriter Don Payne having been tasked with writing the God of Thunder's next solo adventure on the big screen - following his appearance alongside the likes of Captain America, Iron Man, and The Incredible Hulk in next year's The Avengers.
Previous reports indicated that Marvel was negotiating with Games of Thrones helmer Brian Kirk to direct the Thor sequel. Now, it seems that another filmmaker has emerged as the frontrunner to claim the director's chair left empty by Kenneth Branagh (who decided to pass on helming the followup).
Deadline says that Marvel is close to naming Patty Jenkins as the director of Thor 2. The site doesn't specify whether the filmmaker - who would become one of the rare women to call the shots on a superhero movie - has actually begun negotiations yet, but says this possibility "looks pretty serious."
Jenkins previously directed Charlize Theron to an Oscar in the 2003 film Monster. Similar to Kirk, she is also known for her work in the TV medium, having helmed an episode of Arrested Development ("The One Where They Build A House"), a couple episodes of Entourage -and, most recently, the pilot episode for AMC's The Killing.
Marvel's interest in Kirk was openly acknowledged as being related to his work on Game of Thrones; the studio approved of his ability to handle an ensemble cast and deliver a complex, yet grounded, take on the fantasy genre. It was presumably Jenkins' Emmy-nominated pilot for The Killing - which likewise juggled multiple characters and narrative threads - that earned her attention from Marvel heads.
Branagh's background in adapting Shakespearean dramas to the big screen served him well, when it came to directing Thor. He was able to instill the production with a fitting sense of theatricality that helped it avoid wading off into campy territory. It was a pretty difficult act, seeing how many a fan thought that the Thor comic book universe was too fantastical in nature to convincingly work in a live-action film format - without just feeling silly - but ultimately Branagh pulled it off.
The emotionally-authentic nature of the character relationships in Thor - especially those concerning the titular hero, his brother Loki, and father Odin - helped offset the pulpier aspects of the fantasy plot, allowing it to work as a whole. Seeing how Jenkins' primary strength as a filmmaker is her ability to handle difficult character drama (even when it concerns serial killers), it stands to reason that she could be as perfect a match for Thor 2 as Branagh was for the first film... assuming she signs on, that is.
UPDATE: Marvel has not yet confirmed that Jenkins is in talks for Thor 2, but EW is reporting that numerous sources "close to the project" have confirmed that early negotiations have begun.
The site also has the following to offer, with regards to the plot of the Thor sequel:
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige recently told EW that plans were developing fast for the sequel, which he said would “take Thor literally to other worlds.” While moviegoers will next see Chris Hemsworth as the hammer-swinging hero in 'The Avengers' next May, 'Thor 2' would “primarily be the journey of that character, of he and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and how the new dynamic with his father (Odin, played by Anthony Hopkins) is working out, as well as what are the broader stakes for The Nine Worlds,” Feige said.
We'll keep you posted on the status of Thor 2 - which remains set for theatrical release in the U.S. on July 26th, 2013 - as more information is released.
Update Source: EW