‘Thor’ Director Kenneth Branagh Talks Asgard and Cheesiness

By  · Published on September 7th, 2010

‘Thor’ Director Kenneth Branagh Talks Asgard and Cheesiness

There were two topics I was dead set on asking Kenneth Branagh about when he sat down at the roundtable I was involved in: how the film would avoid being campy and what we can expect from the production design. Both questions are geared toward two key issues fans have been having based on the stills Marvel has released thus far. Somehow, a few photos have led to low expectations for a Kenneth Branagh helmed Thor film.

It’s a bit silly for a backlash to start so early, but I wanted to put those to qualms to rest and, thankfully, I was able to ask Branagh about both issues right from the start.

When you do a film that plays around in the fantasy world it’s easy to slip into camp, and Branagh seemed to understand this, “Tone was always a key issue. Key people early on… obviously the production designer Bo Welch and the Academy Award-winning costume designer Alexandra Byrne was also someone trying to be inspired by the comic book, but also seek it as being as imaginative about it [as possible] and [to] present textures and elements. You know, when people travel through space they live in a world with gods.” Clearly for Branagh, believability is key. If you can’t buy into Thor and Odin being actual gods, the film could easily fail.

Branagh also addressed how he went about bringing Kirby’s comics to life, “We were always trying to look at it and see what you saw in the comic and try to re-imagine it. [It was] going back to the original source, and that got everybody excited. You want to try to be pure and classical with it, but bring a new twist.”

As for the look of the film, Branagh obviously wanted to achieve a grand and necessary scope, “[With] the production we wanted a mammoth quality Asgard with having monumental buildings. If you walk around the city of Rome and you look up at any street corner there’s just an emissivity that would have kept people visiting that place in ancient Rome bored.”

So, Branagh basically wants to make ancient Rome look like a Lego set compared to what he has in mind for Asgard. “We wanted to have Asgard or its inhabitants by its size, its magnificence, its beauty, its gold-ness and all of that, but that it had a heft and that it wasn’t airy fairy.” By the airy fairy comment, I took that as Branagh further cementing that we won’t be seeing any intentional camp in this Asgard.

Thor could be a game changer for Marvel in terms of what they can do. If successful, there’ll be able to further explore the more fantastical side of the Marvel universe. When I asked Kevin Feige about the doors Thor could possibly open he just replied with a simple, “I hope so.” A very political answer, but he clearly understands that Thor could make the Marvel universe more of a fantastical one.

Thor hits theaters on May 6th, 2010.

Read Jack’s interview with Thor’s Chris Hemsworth

Read Jack’s interview with Thor’s Tom Hiddleston

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Longtime FSR contributor Jack Giroux likes movies. He thinks they're swell.