The filmmakers of Thor: The Dark World were keen to give audiences relatable references and worlds. Director Alan Taylor was chief among those wanting to ground the film in reality, with a weathered texture and a grittier feel. Says Taylor, “When I came in, I wanted to get more of a sense of the Norse mythology, the Viking quality, the texture, the history and the weight.” As a result, all aspects of Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World”—from the locations, the vast, largely exterior sets, the costumes, hair and makeup, to the armor, weapons, special and visual effects—have been carefully crafted to give a worn, humanizing, historical and grounded quality, with more nods to a Viking era than to science fiction.
Cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau elaborates on the director’s and filmmakers’ vision for the film. “Alan and I discussed grounding the look of the film much more in reality, with a gritty texture, making it a much more immersive experience for the audience.” He adds, “This photographic realism was in collaboration with the production designer, costume designer and all departments—hair, makeup, props—just to give a much more naturalistic feeling to the picture, avoiding the more comic-‐book treatment approaches of some comic book–orientated action movies.”
Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” was conceived as an epic film that spanned the universe. The filmmakers wanted to transport audiences to the different worlds and make them believe in them and feel the sense of history as well as the everyday life of each of them to help them relate to the story and the characters. To bring Asgard and further worlds within the Nine Realms to reality with texture, grit and believability, the director and filmmakers felt the best way was to use a combination of real locations and expansive, detailed sets, built largely outside. This enabled them to utilize natural light and also shoot the action as much as possible on camera.
Creating Asgard was the biggest challenge of all and also involved the largest number of sets. For their initial inspiration, production designer Charles Wood and his team looked to the comic books and at all the material they could find on Thor and the environments that Jack Kirby had produced. They then took their research wider, as Wood explains, “We also looked at images on the Internet, whether architectural or whether it was atmospheric, anything we could find that we felt could have related to the film. We studied all sorts of different historical and modern architectural influences, whether it was Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic, Chinese or Islamic architectural forms. We also studied light and atmosphere. We then went to the studio and met everyone and Alan Taylor and got their take on it and from that point we essentially started conceptualizing.”
The Medina set/streets of Asgard set that Wood’s team built is the biggest set ever built for a Marvel film and was also one of the longest builds at three to four months. One can actually walk around the streets of Asgard and see the shops, the pubs and the training ground. Charles Wood comments, “The Medina set is the most historic part of the film. We’re saying it is nestled into the mountains of Asgard and has been around there for hundreds, if not thousands of years. We wanted to mix in earlier architecture, because as the city grows above us it becomes more modern and futuristic.”
Explaining some of his influences for the lighting and feel of Asgard, cinematographer Morgenthau says, “We wanted a rich feeling to Asgard. It was a combination of a Nordic soft-‐like feeling, mixed with a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern feeling, with very vibrant colors, strong contrasts, so faces really popped out against the background.” He notes artistic influences of pre-‐Raphaelite paintings, the Dutch Masters and the Orientalist School of Painting.
The cast and crew unanimously agree that making a Marvel film is like no other and for the majority, it is a career aspiration and high. Tapping into childhood dreams of Super Heroes and fantastical adventure but with earthly themes, the cast and crew, whether in front of or behind the camera, know there is something special about Marvel films and that their box-‐office success is no accident. When “Thor: The Dark World” blasts into theaters, audiences will be taken on an epic thrill ride from Earth and back with bigger-‐than-‐life but relatable characters whose worlds seem not only within the realm of possibility, but tangible and real as well.
Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World opens in Singapore on 31 October 2013 in 2D, 3D & IMAX 3D.
Everything you wanna know about Thor: The Dark World - Part 1
Everything you wanna know about Thor: The Dark World - Part 2