Fast Five has roared into record-breaking box office success this weekend, in essence attempting to abscond with the late spring/early summer blockbuster crown. This coming Friday, however, Thor will challenge the would-be thieves in the hopes of reclaiming the thunder Fast Five snuck up to steal.
Director Kenneth Branagh was given one, very clear, edict from Marvel's Kevin Feige when production on Thor began: cast Thor.
As Branagh tells it, he entered the experience as a child on the first day of school, anxious to explore all that the new environment offered: 3D, visual effects, a veritable playground of new toys and tasks to be done. When Branagh looked to Feige for direction, the straightforward President of Production told him:
"The one thing you need to do right away, and until you finish, is cast Thor, that's it, just cast Thor."
Early reviews hale Chris Hemsworth as a resounding success in the titular role - marking Branagh's first and primary job as one decidedly well done. So well done in fact that eager fans are already looking ahead in anticipation of any and all additional installations in (what they hope will become) a Thor franchise. Without revealing any spoilers, we can say that the film is certainly seeded with storylines and character arcs that beg for a continuation.
In our private interview with actress Jaimie Alexander (Goddess of War, Sif) we discussed the film's subtle suggestion of a burgeoning romantic relationship (requited or not) between her character and Thor. The idea of Sif's desire for more from her lifelong freind was deliberately layered into the film as one thread (among many) that could easily be followed-through in a sequel. Sif's amorous intentions toward the God of Thunder were explored more intimately in several scenes that (ultimately) did not make it into the final cut: a choice that the actress believes was best for the current film and story. She does contend, however, that "there was a reason" that the filmmakers hinted at the relationship, essentially "creating a door" that they could walk through in the future - should they so choose.
Look for our full interview with the lovely and talented Ms. Alexander in the coming days. Teaser: Her ideal Marvel character, other than Sif, is the dynamic and powerful X-23.
As to Marvel's larger vision for Thor, Kevin Feige replied to queries about the development of a Branagh helmed Thor sequel by saying:
"We've 600+ issues, we’ve got a thousand years of mythology — we have other stories we’d like to tell. The audience will tell us whether they want to see those other stories, but we have to be prepared for that, if we should get the call. So, Don Payne is working on story ideas for a Part 2, we’ve got various options with Ken [Branagh] to discuss coming back. Right now the focus is on the first one but Don is, slowly but surely, thinking about where to take the character next should we be so lucky. ”
Branagh reiterated that it will ultimately be the fans who decide if the world will be given the opportunity to revisit Asgard.
"Kevin and I share the Irish Celtic superstition of not taking anything for granted, and the Marvel world is a world of non-assumption. When I first started in the film business (forgive the language I’m about to use) a producer said, ‘Assumption is the mother of all f**k ups.’ So we are assuming nothing; we are offering the film out to the world and we shall listen.”
Audiences are guaranteed a continuation of their relationship with at least two of the Asgardian Gods in the upcoming Joss Whedon helmed Avengers. As we have reported, both Thor and Loki play pivotal roles in the film - as a member of the team of heroes and central antagonist, respectively.
When asked about Loki's villainous development in The Avengers, actor Tom Hiddleston laughingly hedged:
"I think a red dot will form on my forehead if I give any information about Loki in 'The Avengers.' All I can tell you is that Loki will be in 'The Avengers,' and it will take more than the man to my right (Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth) to stop me this time."
Both Hemsworth and Hiddleston did offer some insight into how they believe Whedon will handle the challenge of seamlessly integrating a team of epically scaled heroes, and one of the most fascinating and complex villains ever to be seen on the landscape of comic-book films. Hiddleston theorized:
“I think the thing that looks like a challenge is actually the reason it will work. As in, how can one movie contain so many different flavors and colors and characters? I think Joss Whedon has probably made that a strength. The conflict between each of them will be something that will be expanded on I think.”
"We don’t balance all the other characters. It’s the writer and Joss Whedon, who’s the writer and director. His job is to sort of navigate that. Kind of like Tony [Sir Anthony Hopkins] was saying, we come in and do our bit, and that’s all you can really concern yourself with. But I definitely think it will be an interesting combination. As Tom said, why it will work is that conflict and those larger-than-life characters and egos clashing. There’s some great tension there.”
Stay tuned for more on what Hiddleston calls the "literal bro-mance" between Loki and Thor, the Sir Anthony Hopkins school of "no-acting-involved" acting, and continuing Thor updates throughout the coming week.
NOTE: IF YOU HAVE ALREADY SEEN THE FILM, PLEASE DO NOT POST SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.
Thor opens this Friday May 6th.
Follow me on Twitter @jrothc
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