Kevin Feige, Kenneth Branagh Interview, THOR

Posted by: Sheila Roberts

The big Marvel panel for The First Avenger: Captain America and Thor was hands down the most fun and exciting event of the entire 2010 Comic Con. After a Q&A with the casts of both films, an introduction to the cast of The Avengers, and a teaser trailer narrated by Samuel L Jackson (aka Nick Fury), MoviesOnline sat down for a roundtable interview with director Kenneth Branagh and producer Kevin Feige to talk about their exciting new action-adventure adaptation, Thor.

Kenneth and Kevin told us why Thor is a tougher sell than the traditional guy in a costume, what it’s like working on a film that exists in a shared universe like the Marvel films do, and the challenges they faced bringing it to life. Kevin also explained why the acclaimed British director was the perfect choice to helm the upcoming film. Here’s what they had to say:

Q: Kenneth, it seems like you’re giving all of your cast members a box of reading material. Is that something that’s been done to you in the past or does it help them find their characters through different work?

Kenneth Branagh: It’s just to make sure you start off by saying “Hey, it’s not going to be the usual thing.” And also, look for information anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you read a book this thick. Natalie Portman told us she read a book about a nuclear physicist. The gal who was sort of outed from the whole discovery of DNA, Roslyn Franklin, she was the one who didn’t get the Nobel prize. She was a brilliant mid-century British physicist. Now you may see none of that in Jane Foster but she read a book this thick and she had a couple of great ideas that might be half a line in the movie but it just smacks like a peg into the ground of a different kind of reality and isn’t just about [weepy stage voice] “Oh, he’s over there. He just did that.” So it’s kind of trying to say “You can do that. You can watch a TV show. It can be in a picture. You can be in an art gallery. Whatever. Let’s make it special. Let’s make it our own.” You’ll find you put your arms around the part that way.

Q: For both of you, what was it like working on a film that exists in a shared universe like the Marvel films do and how was that a challenge when you’re bringing it to life?

Kenneth Branagh: The fun bit, Kevin will tell you, he’s the ubermeister I think of all of that, but the fun thing is when you know and you go and see Iron Man 2 and you get a couple of lines saying “Clark [Gregg] has to get down to New Mexico. We have a little bit of a problem down there.” And you know we’re the problem! We’ve got a couple of little nods heading Joe [Johnston]’s way with our picture. As I said earlier, I got thrilled when I went to see the set the other week so what was nice is, at least I didn’t feel this, you may have done it so brilliantly I didn’t notice, but I didn’t feel I had to think about it at all. I was Thor-centric.

Kevin Feige: The trick is all the movies have to stand on their own. I say that all the time. All the movies have to stand on their own. If you need to watch all of them to understand any of them, we’ve failed. But it also wouldn’t work if we didn’t have filmmakers like Ken and like Favreau and like Joe and now Joss who are excited by that notion, who understand their toes aren’t being stepped on. They’re telling this story and the movie they want to tell and we get enough of these other pieces in that the baton can be passed to the next one. And, they enjoy the idea. They enjoy that notion of being part of something bigger.

Q: Is Thor a little bit of a tougher sell than the traditional guy in a costume because you’re dealing with possible gods and how you present that to people? And then, how did you make that accessible to people? Was now the time in the progression that people are ready to accept that?

Kenneth Branagh: That’s interesting. I hope that it is that time and I think you’re right to say that it’s a tricky tonal issue. We always talked early on about, you know, I’m there for what it’s worth, to try and guide the tone and say “Hey, I think we can make a film.” I was passionate that we should have a contemporary earth sequence to the movie. And so, I believe, they do in the comics, that we can live in both places and people can travel maybe to both places potentially and that we can find the tone. Gotta stay very honest and very truthful, and we hope we’re doing that.

Q: Kevin, was Kenneth’s background with Shakespearian dramas something that led you to believe that he could really handle it because you got some sense, especially in the scene where Odin banishes Thor, that it could go really badly unless somebody can grasp the tone as you said. Was that something that you saw in his work and said “He could be the guy”?

Kevin Feige: There’s no question about that. But what it really was, knowing that background, knowing the amazing work he’d done, what I didn’t know and what it took the phone calls and the meetings we had to know is what a fan he was of Thor, what a fan he was of this genre, of these kind of movies. I can’t remember when it was now. It’s almost a couple years ago now and a new James Bond movie opened and that Monday we were talking about the Bond movie and then the next weekend we were talking about whatever the big summer movie was that weekend. We just started talking about that and had sort of similar notions of what these kind of movies can and should deliver. And I think he clearly is going to show that he can do that.

Kenneth Branagh: I’m a total movie geek. I’m there every weekend just totally and utterly for pleasure. It’s one of the things I do, my wife and I. It’s a nice thing to do.

Q: Kenneth, would you like to act in a movie like Thor?

Kenneth Branagh: I don’t know actually. I haven’t been asked. So, there you go! Next time out if we do a second.

“Thor” is scheduled for theatrical release on May 6, 2011.

“Thor” is scheduled for theatrical release on May 6, 2011. If you have not already you should checkout the Comic Con Thor Movie Trailer

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