Like pretty much every movie, Thor: Ragnarok underwent significant changes in the screenwriting process, and it’s always interesting to learn what didn’t make the final draft. Yahoo! recently spoke with Thor: Ragnarok screenwriter Eric Pearson, who came up through Marvel’s Writers Program and took over the script from Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost. Pearson made some surprising revelations on what changes he made, especially with regards to Hela.
[Spoilers ahead for Thor: Ragnarok]
Pearson’s biggest change was making Hela Thor’s sister. In the comics, Hela is Loki’s daughter, but they never considered going down that road, and up until Pearson came on, Hela was just an evil force from Asgard’s past. But when Pearson arrived at the big battle, he felt that it lacked personal stakes. Rather than pitch Hela being Thor’s sister, Brad Winderbaum, VP of production and development at Marvel Studios, advised Pearson to just put it in the script because it would likely be shot down if it were just delivered in a pitch.
When Valkyrie reveals that Hela is Thor’s sister, it got a big, positive reaction from Marvel Studios’ head Kevin Feige. While the reveal was eventually given to Odin since they wanted that character to have more of an impact in his limited screen time, it was a nice gamble that paid off for Pearson.
Pearson also reveals that that Hela’s entrance where she kills loads of people was longer, but they felt it was ultimately repetitive and they didn’t have the time to shoot it. Additionally, “There was [also] a scene where she thought they were hiding the sword in the armory, this big fortress. She goes up, and the destroyer armor comes out to take her out, and she just rips that thing apart too, just to call back the destroyer armor. And it just felt like an extra beat that we didn’t need. We needed to get Thor pushing back to Asgard as fast as possible.”
However, Pearson did push for giving her a monologue once they landed Cate Blanchett in the role. However, Taika Waititi being Taika Waititi, he had to make sure to undercut that big monologue with a joke.
Another change involved pulling back from a Thor/Valkyrie romance. While earlier drafts of the script put the two characters together, Pearson wisely decided to just have the relationship be more cordial and if something came of it, then so be it. “It became more about the mutual respect,” says Pearson, “and also dealing with her PTSD. She’s someone who’s drowning her sorrows in the bottle, and I just thought that was such a cool thing that you don’t often see in these movies: somebody dealing with extreme guilt and shame in a colorful, Taika Waititi[-directed] hilarious background.”
Finally, a scene that Pearson worked on for a long time but could never quite crack “was an emotional check-in moment with Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and Thor before the finale, with Banner eating alien food and trying to be serious. It [looks like] spaghetti, but then he realizes the thing he’s eating is alive on the end.” They wanted the emotional beat for Banner, but they realized it just killed the momentum. And frankly, looking at the movie overall, you don’t really need it. Banner has a nice, abbreviated arc where he decides it’s in his nature to help people even if it means he might end up as Hulk forever.
Thor: Ragnarok is now in theaters.