Along with Marvel’s Kevin Feige, director Kenneth Branagh is the man behind bringing Thor to life on the big screen. Following the highly anticipated Marvel panel at Comic-Con, the two talked about imagining a film of this size, the importance of casting the pivotal roles, the appeal of a story like Thor and making sure this film fits into the Marvel universe, for the future Avengers film. Kevin Feige also addressed his decision to be so direct in his official statement to replace Edward Norton.
Check out what they had to say after the jump:
Question: Ken, is there anything that you were able to do, on a film of this size, that you previously haven’t been able to?
Ken: Spend some money, but not carte blanche. What’s exciting is that Kevin and Marvel are so determined that we have to deliver spectacle, not only in the execution of visual effects, but also in the concept of visual effects, really trying to push the envelope, every time. Then, if you have an idea, if you have inspiration and if the creativity is flowing, it’s possible for it to be expressed and encouraged. It all costs money and, at some point, you have to have difficult conversations in that way, but basically, the prime thing is, “How can we make this the best it can be, on a scale that it needs to have and at an intense pitch?”
Who was the first person you wanted to cast for the film?
Ken: We felt as though the only possible place to start was Thor, and that it had to be somebody we hadn’t seen before. We knew we were going to begin a great big search for that, and somebody needed to walk into the room and be prepared to work out and be a sensitive actor, at the same time. Eventually, we stroke gold with Mr. Hemsworth.
Kevin: And, Natalie Portman soon after that. Knowing that we wanted to do the female scientist character that is rife with examples that didn’t go so well in genre movies, that was something that made us comfortable even doing that idea, once she agreed to do it.
Ken: And, she was so game. She was up for it. She was very passionate about it, so it was cool.
Ken, do you have a history with comic books and, in particular, a passion for Thor?
Ken: I definitely had a passion for Thor. I didn’t have a huge history with the comic books, but I loved what this story represented. I loved its epic scale, the color, the grandeur of it, the fact that it traveled across space, all the vivid contrasts in the runs of the comics, and the blood and guts of it. And, paradoxically, there is a great human story at the center of a story about Gods.
Now that some of the footage has been seen, you can see how it looks like the Iron Man films. Was that done intentionally? Were there things that you purposely put into it, to keep with the Marvel look?
Ken: There is the integration of story elements. For instance, you saw how Thor interacts with S.H.I.E.L.D. I think you’ll see that we have the chance, in various parts of it, to just expand out. Because of the nature of the places we go to, I think you’ll find that it adds up into something that belongs, but that also has a very distinct flavor. An important thing we wanted to do at Comic-Con is show how Thor fits into The Avengers world. It can live there, but it also brings a pretty exotic thing that is going to be much more present in the film.
How did you keep Thor grounded in reality? Were there films that you used as inspiration for taking something so fantastic and putting it in the real world?
Ken: I’d have to say that I hope we haven’t directly filched anything, but in terms of a military thing, and a reality about death and violence, for it not to be too anodyne, a film like Gladiator has a feet in the ground quality that is very impressive. That affected some feelings about it. We just decided that we would always take seriously the idea of violence and also the military training and the fitness for being a king. Every time, we went back to get the reality of that and how we would present that in the world.
Kevin, creative differences happen a lot in Hollywood, but it was so refreshing and rare to see it acknowledged, as it was in your statement about Edward Norton. If you had to do it over again, would you still be so candid?
Kevin: Yeah. I didn’t think I was being all that candid, frankly. But, it needed to be very clear to all parties, and I thought his statement afterward was great. There’s no bad blood.
Did it have to be so clear because you were worried what fanboys would say, when they found out about it?
Kevin: No, it was because we were talking to other actors and we didn’t want it to be a contest.