Producer Craig Kyle Talks the Involvement of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Film’s Design and Locations, and More on the Set of THOR: THE DARK WORLD

     October 1, 2013


If you’ve been waiting to find out as much as you can about Thor: The Dark World, you’re in the right place.  When I visited the set of the Marvel sequel a year ago while the production was filming outside London, I participated in a group interview with producer Craig Kyle and he revealed a lot of information.  Here’s a tease of how he described beginning of the film:

“The Bifrost was destroyed at the end of the first Thor.  Odin had to break a lot of rules and laws and take a lot of himself to send Thor to Earth in The Avengers, and during that time when they couldn’t jump from Asgard to the other worlds, chaos reigned, and so we come into a time of real strife in the nine realms.  We’ve got Marauders who are moving from world to world that are pillaging and attacking helpless because you know the cops can’t come.”

Sounds great, doesn’t it?  Kyle also talked about the film’s design, locations, why they wanted Alan Taylor to direct, the significance of the Dark Elves, the new cast, whether the success of The Avengers raised the Thor sequel budget, and so much more.  Hit the jump to either read or listen to the interview.

While most on set interviews take place at a table or by the person’s chair, the interview with Craig Kyle was done while walking around the sets. This is why it might read a little bit weird.

If you’d like to listen to the audio from this interview click here.  Otherwise the full transcript is below.  Thor: The Dark World opens November 8th.

Note: This interview is loaded with specifics about the movie.  If you’re trying to stay spoiler free, I’d advise skipping this until you’ve seen the movie. 

thor-the-dark-world-poster-chris-hemsworthCRAIG KYLE:  Kevin sends his personal hellos, he was sorry he missed this roundtable. He knows you all so very well.  Obviously you got a quick little sneak peek. I’m gonna take you through the bulk of what’s on the wall here, so you actually know, what you couldn’t spot already, and I do have a little something extra for you that I got permission from Kevin to share with you guys, so I think you’ll enjoy that, and I want to say thanks for coming out.  You’re like the closest extension of us out there, so we’re always grateful to have you out here. 

Hope you guys had a good time, hope you had a good time with Chris [Hemsworth] and Tom [Hiddleston].  Those guys are amazing, they’re the best, and their work in this movie is the best they’ve done yet.  I know Chris was kind of fucked up yesterday, but he looks great.  By far the best looking Thor we’ve had.  He just looks amazing.  Loki we’ve really kind of had for a while now, so he just, since The Avengers, he got his long hair, he looks tremendous.  Just speaking specifically about, you know, the vision for this second story in Thor and third part in Avengers, which we do take into account, this is setting high expectations at least for the Thor story, a darker era.  You know, I can’t say the Empire Strikes Back of our storyline, but if it was, wouldn’t that be amazing? 

Just to kind of catch you guys up, this doesn’t fall right after the first Thor.  It does fall right after Avengers.  It’s been about a year and a half, two years since the first movie.  Promises were made, I’ll came back for you, Jane Foster [Natalie Portman].  He did come back, not for here, that’ll be awkward when they hook up again, I’m guessing.  What’s wonderful about these films is so many of you guys know the books.  We read them for the ongoing stories and then we love these big disaster moments that draw all these lives together. 

Again, for so many people out there that never read comics, they wouldn’t understand how good these stories can get, and that now we have a lot of draft off of after Avengers.  Our guys, who have amazing arcs coming in their own lives, had to step out, deal with this big threat, and now come back.  Well, now all those threats continue to send ripple effects throughout our whole cinematic universe.  We have Iron Man, Tony Stark, who’s torn up from being in the effects of that combat.  You have Thor, who had to take the prisoner Loki back to Asgard to be dealt with, and this time he’s going to be locked up in a cell where he’s not gonna have control.  You have Erik Selvig [Stellan Skarsgard], who had a god in his head, messing around for an entire movie, which probably isn’t good for your psyche. 

You know, lots of these threats continue to just spread outwards in ways that only deepen the stories we’re about to tell in these individual sagas.  It’s truly our job to bring the books to life in the way that made them so popular when we were all kids, and it’s a big duty, but we’re doing our best. 

thor-the-dark-world-alan-taylor-jaimie-alexanderAnyways, we brought Alan Taylor [director] on, and he’s done such amazing work on Mad Men and Game of ThronesThe Sopranos and Rome.  We had spent a lot of time in the palace of the royal family and kind of come during a time of celebration.  The Bifrost was destroyed at the end of the first Thor.  Odin [Anthony Hopkins] had to break a lot of rules and laws and take a lot of himself to send Thor to Earth in The Avengers, and during that time when they couldn’t jump from Asgard to the other worlds, chaos reigned, and so we come into a time of real strife in the nine realms.  We’ve got Marauders who are moving from world to world that are pillaging and attacking helpless because you know the cops can’t come, and we just catch into, we put it to a story in a way finding out where the hell is everybody?  I think we do it in a way that’s really great. 

I’m going to take you through some of the visuals that are up on the wall and quickly kind of show some of the story elements we’ve got going.  Then I can answer some questions for you guys at the end.  Probably not most of them, but some.  I will also tell you, this is no bullshit, Chris came out of the tent yesterday and said that those guys are great, they’re fun.  They know their shit.  He’s like, they’re tricky, but they know their shit.  It’s a view shared by all of us that, yes you are tricky, but you know your stuff.  You guys love it.

Question:  Are we going to see the Bifrost get fixed in this film?

KYLE:  You’re not. That’s the thing we talked about, and again, I’m gonna catch up with that artwork, so you guys are actually gonna see.  I’m gonna start with the last frame, which is embarrassing.  No we’re not, because that’s shoe leather we didn’t really want to get into, but you’ll see that it’s not the Bifrost that it was.  It’s a brand new structure, it had to be rebuilt. I’ll kind of go under, and catch up to that in one second. 

We start off with a very small way on Earth, and you get to meet these kids who are running around this abandoned warehouse, they’re having some fun.  Some of their toys start to take off and act in really weird ways, and they get into this warehouse, this massive cement truck, and it’s floating about three inches off the ground, and one of them’s brave enough to touch the bumper and it suddenly starts to rotate like a massive planet.

Obviously things on Earth are not as they should be and this is the beginning of an element that’s spreading across the universe.  We’re probably right now the singularity.  It’s basically like a flex in the universe.  If you could think that there’s fault lines across the cosmos, they expand and contract about every five thousand years, and they’re felt on every world.  This is the first sign of it on Earth, and what is initially very fun and playful and cool ultimately will build across many planets and be very disastrous. 

thor-the-dark-world-dark-elvesWe transition from that and reveal Dark Elf ships.  They haven’t been seen in five thousand years.  As far as anyone knows, Odin was a child the last time they were dealt with and they needed to be wiped, so when they return it’s not good news

What are they called again?

KYLE:  The ship is called The Ark, and then this is the Dark Elves, and at the beginning of the film, once they awaken, Malekith [Christopher Eccleston] who we all know is the in the film ultimately, sends out spies to go find out what’s up with the universe.  They’ve been gone for a long time and they need to know what’s going on.  That’s The Ark, that’s their singular mothership and the smaller crafts you see here are the Harrows. 

Do you have to name these things because you have to sell the toys?

KYLE:  No.  We’ll see if they make the toys.  I’m not a toy guy.  I mean, I collect toys, but I’m not peddling the toys, I’m here to peddle the movie.  You guys want to know what a Dark Elf looks like?  If you guys saw the plaque, that’s what they look like.  Now I think the rendering that we actually built looks better than this, but this is kind of the Dark Elf storm trooper.  It kind of represents the creatures that they once were. Adewale [Akinnuoye-Agbaje] as Algrim.  He’s the second lieutenant of our big bad Malekith, and that’s Chris Eccleston.  I don’t know if you guys are going to get a chance to see him today, but he’s going to be out and about.

Are his eyes different colors?

KYLE:  Yes, on the damage side they are.  Sorry it’s a little blown out.  I’ll adjust it a bit.  This is Vanaheim, one of the first worlds we come into the film after we see the kids and the Dark Elves, and this is a very peaceful world that has been run over by the Marauders I was talking about.  This is one of the place where we get to meet our heroes for the first time in the film.  If any of you guys have internet connections, you’ve seen a lot of this footage online, shot in the woods in Norwood, but this stuff we got is even better, but this is the veneer.  Although their a warrior race, they’re not quite as advanced as the Asgardians, and they’re not prepared to handle the onslaught of the villains from the various worlds outside the nine realms.  So what it is is a ragtag band of space pirates basically, that have just come together to steal as much as they can.  You know, and as we expand further into the stars, and we reach you know, stories like Guardians of the Galaxy, it shows you that it’s a rich marvel universe out there.  We’re all getting to just scratch the surface of what can be out there. 

thor-the-dark-world-chris-hemsworthHere’s a big spoiler.  We have a stone man from Saturn in this film that does face off with Thor. You’re the only ones to see the picture and understand what that is. For those of you that don’t, these are the first guys that Thor ever fought in the comics, so it’s pretty epic that we got to bring them out.  We’ve actually got a full sized bust of this guy that’s pretty sick.  Are you guys going to the armory later today?  You should ask, we have this club.  You should ask to hold it.

Then Asgard.  Like I said, the first time around, we got to see Asgard, and all of its beauty.  The Ascension Ceremony and all that, everyone had their costumes all buffed and polished, but we didn’t really get to see the other shades of it where the normal folks live, the darker underbelly.  This time we’re going to get out there and explore as much of Asgard as we really can.  It’s really important for us, as we move further out in the stars, we move deeper into the worlds that we’re visiting and the characters themselves, just so that people like our girlfriends and wives and buddies who don’t read comics and scared it’s gonna be, you know, nameless films that I won’t name that we know exist, so we just have to make sure we’re always bringing great story to each character and depth and detail. 

So basically the prisons of Asgard are different than the prisons of Earth.  This is the dark side of Asgard that if you were to see it, you don’t usually get to see anything after.  A fitting home for a character like Loki.  There he is, and then across the cell you see these horned characters and Marauders and various demons, and his cell does have a little bed and a couple of books that Frigga [Rene Russo] brought down there, just so he can be as comfortable as possible, but as far as Odin’s concerned, you’re staying.  Tom Hiddleston is once again doing a tremendous performance for us.  Seeing new shades of his character that we haven’t seen in the past two films. 

Oh, we saw him yesterday.

KYLE:  Oh, you did?

thor-the-dark-world-tom-hiddlestonYeah.  We also saw a prison break.

KYLE:  You did?  Oh great.  Well there you go.  It looks better than that.  Rene Russo, beautiful as always.  She actually returns to us next week, as Frigga. T his is a set you’re going to walk into today.  It’s going to be dressed in two different ways.  We have Frigga’s chambers, and then we get to the Hall of Science, which I’m going to show you in a minute.  Again, this film’s got a lot of location work, so we’re in Norwood, where we shot our initial fight.  We’re in Iceland.  We’re all over London later on on shoot, and we’re getting a lot of elements here to build the shores of Asgard we saw.  Usually from the air, but never close to, and from here you’ll find the Asgardian training grounds where all they’re training for the battles that are currently happening all across the cosmos.  So we get a chance to actually have Thor and his father reconnect after he comes home from a successful journey.

That was the set where we saw the guys?

KYLE:  This is like, because they’ve been going through a few troops right because they’re trying to reign in the universe, they’re coming up in the ranks.  Odin’s in full warrior mode, so we don’t see him in all of his more royal settings, he’s more of a general and watches over his troops, training his men. Most of them are largely similar to the previous film.  I’ll tell you if this one is inaccurate, if you’ve seen the shots of Zach [Levi], they got a lot coming out, his face, he has blonde hair, he has a blonde goatee.  It looks fantastic, but that costume is accurate.  He came on board, he’s just unreal as Fandral, just doing a brilliant job for us.

Again, just showing you more shades of Asgard that we hope to show, just deepening the audience’s experience.  What’s really important this time around is, you know, this a world built by Thor’s great-grandfather, grandfather, and father, and we won’t be able to show enough of the architecture.  Just like the observatory, we’re not gonna cover, hey, how’s the building doing?  We’re just gonna show people, and you’ll see different kinds of materials, and age damage, building up to the golden palace that we already see, and the golden towers that look beyond it.  So all it is, again, is just showing the age and the time, and again, this is another great example where it’s very rough, but we’re inside an older structure, and this, as you can see, is Odin’s palace, just shows that Odin’s always kind of watching over you, no matter how far out you are.  This architecture’s not correct, but, it gives you a sense of, so this would have been a structure, perhaps Thor had built, and since then this structure has come up beyond it.  Just showing again the history and making Asgard more real at a visual glance.

thor-the-dark-world-chris-hemsworth-idris-elbaWe spend a lot of time at the pub.  We actually get to meet some of the folks from the books, Volstagg’s family, Fandral’s maidens.  We get to see who the hell these guys fight for when they’re out there every day, and get to spend some time in the pub. So it looks much better than this. It’s a really, really wonderful environment — rich, full and lively, and music, and mead.  It just feels exactly like you want it. Warriors come home and tell exaggerated stories, especially Volstagg and the mission that was just accomplished.  You really get a sense of the warrior nature. Jaimie Alexander, always beautiful, and she’s had a slight redo on her costume.

So the Observatory, there you go.  You can see that in the design, the beams are still being put up.  It’s still in the middle of being rebuilt, and what that allows for us to provide is once the Bifrost is fully operational, whirls, it becomes a viewing onto the curvy cosmos.  You’ll see celestial bodies and planets and all kinds of little  wonders of space that we weren’t allowed to before because of how the structure was built, so it actually allows us to do unique visuals, and it still has all the gears and the various elements that people liked from the original design.  While not complete, it works. 

Heimdall [Idris Elba] also has some extraordinary scenes in this film, a much larger role, and he turned out to be a fan favorite in the last film.  We were lucky to have him come back to us, and that’s his redesign.  Shiny sword in his hand, but kind of a gunslinger, rocket element, so he just looks tremendous.  It looks amazing on him.

This is an important element to the story, that is Jane Foster, and she should not be standing that close to that.  We brought out Chris Eccleston and a bunch of Dark Elves and Adewale and Chris and Tom and did a lot of great work out here, those first and second unit.  We’ll do a lot of VFX, but for whatever’s with us, thank God, and we’ve got some extraordinary stuff, and the boys are tortured.  It’s really cold, and sometimes fans on while it was cold.

This was in Iceland?

KYLE:  Yeah, it was all in Iceland, yeah.

thor-the-dark-world-asgardAre those real shots, or are those concept art?

KYLE:  Those are all concept art, but it was based on the shots we had taken on scouts.  Then we went back to those places and actually shot it all up, so it was amazing.  So this is the Hall of Science again, and what you’re gonna see today.  It’s gonna be a pretty neat spot, that we need to explore, and we’ll go into the various breakthroughs and discoveries of the Asgardians, where you’ll see functioning models of the Big Bang; all these wonderful technologies that no human has laid eyes on before.  Inside it’s going to be this living tree, which we will believe is kind of an intercell, the cosmic tree.  You know, the effects and woes and success of the universe are kind of spoken through this living object.  So should the end of all things ever come, this’ll probably be the first thing to fall.  We have a really tremendous scene in here with Thor and Odin.

We didn’t see it.

KYLE:  Great, so he looks, like I said, this was a concept design.  The final look and hair I think exceeds where this design went, but he really looks tremendous in this film.  The throne room is one of the few connecting pieces that we have from the first film that we’re bringing back in this one, and again it’s just we’ve added some more detail and some additional elements, again to show the many ages of kings who have come before Odin. 

You saw most of this.  This is recent additional, a lot of concept design, so… the Harrows, and they have a unique black hole kind of engine, where they actually kind of pull themselves through space as opposed to propel themselves.  That was an idea that Alan Taylor was really excited about, so they’re very unique in the way they move through space and they way they do damage and hurt people.  There’s some scale reference on The Ark. 

We’re actually going to be putting some boats, both in the seas and the skies, in this film.  You’re actually gonna see where the Viking ships came from, and the MCU.  We’re going with the idea that the Asgardians came to early man, met the beginning of the Viking people.  They had ships like this, their technologies inspired the Vikings to build their longboats and their various structures.  So we’re turning history inside out, so instead of the Vikings creating the gods, the gods created the Vikings.  We get to see what’s the Asgardian take to inspire what we know on Earth so well, and we have a pretty spectacular scene in one of these skiffs. 

thor-the-dark-world-chris-hemsworth-3Are those wings?

KYLE:  Yeah, basically, there’s different kinds of sails, depending on how fast a ship goes, it has to have different kinds of mechanics.  Then again, just to show you again, how Asgard will look from a distance — it is showing the wild and actually shooting on location.  Then we can lay in these elements, but it’s about just getting to know Asgard better as an entire realm as opposed to a very specific place.  There’s some good examples of a very early test we did, these last two.  This one is especially great.  We shot some stuff in Norway, and we added just a few elements, none of these buildings or anything are final, but it gives you a sense of, “Oh, I understand why that would be built there, and there’s Odin’s palace way off in the distance.”  You just get a sense of a realness to the world, and then when you see one of these skiffs, moving through the water and then suddenly take flight towards Asgard without using the water at all, it just keeps that whole curvy, you know, Lee Simonson Asgard alive.  Always keeping the high tech elements there, like the Rainbow Bridge, but doing it in a way that really feels relatable.

Producer Craig Kyle



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