When news broke earlier this year that noted Shakespearean actor and director Ken Branagh had been selected to helm Marvel’s Thor, a live-action movie about a disabled medical student whose alter-ego is the hammer wielding Norse god – it’s fair to say that the disbelief from some quarters bordered on hysteria.
Let’s just say that the faecal matter hit the fan and the fans were far from happy!
Although we were a little bit sceptical about whether Branagh has what it takes to helm a big budget superhero movie, we concluded that “when all is said and done Branagh’s lack of experience with the superhero genre is outweighed by the qualities that he would bring to this project, namely intelligence, proven directing skill and an understanding of the importance of character over special-effects. And perhaps most important of all, he will bring a fresh perspective to a genre that all too easily succumbs to the cookie cutter approach to story telling.”
So, sure, while there’s some risk for Marvel, it’s frankly a risk worth taking, and the more we consider the grandiose themes of the material and the very language used in the Comics, the less like a risk it seems to have Branagh at the helm. In fact, he might just be the ideal man for the job!
The most frustrating thing about all of this has been the resounding silence from Marvel and Branagh, as if they’ve been giving the fans an opportunity to clean themselves up and get used to the idea. Well, the silence has finally been broken and at a showing of Valkyrie, Branagh spoke to MTV. “I am directing Thor or The Mighty Thor as you might like to call it,” he confirmed with a smile, quickly clarifying that the title will most likely be Thor.
Asked what appealed to him about the project, he explained excitedly that it was an opportunity “To work on a story about one of the immortals, Gods, extraordinary beings, inter-dimensional creatures … There’s science fiction and science fact and fantasy all woven into one. It’s based on Norse legends which Marvel sort of raided in a brilliant way.” Summing up his enthusiasm, he said, “It’s a chance to tell a big story on a big scale. It’s a human story right in the centre of a big epic scenario.”
On the all consuming question about who will take on the role of Thor, Branagh stayed mum, dismissing rumours about Kevin McKidd as premature speculation. “There’s been lots of talk [about casting] — I sound like a politician — but we are too early at this stage. We’re getting the story and the visual effects together and all of that is very exciting. Someone sensational is going to play the part but it is early days.”
“Someone sensational”, eh? Is that wishful thinking or has a decision been made? Of all the rumours pumped out by the mill this year, the strangest by far was Daniel Craig’s mischievous (and needless to say, false) claim that he had been offered the role but turned it down. The most appealing however was that Brad Pitt might wield Mjollnir, Thor’s mighty hammer, and for what it’s worth, we still think he’d be a good choice.
Now, if Sean Bean or Viggo Mortensen were to come up in this context, things would be looking very promising. And what about Vladimir Kulich?