Thor: The Dark World.
What can you say? As far as Thor movies go, it’s definitely the most recent.
Well, that’s a bit harsh. It might be the worst-reviewed MCU film since The Incredible Hulk, but The Dark World still offers a lot of dumb fun as Marvel puts on its best Game of Thrones face and offers up a world of grit, dark magic, and sword fights. That the villain, Malekith, never even learns Thor’s name is a problem as is the plot’s sidelining of Jane Foster and the brief detour into making her the literal MacGuffin. However, Dark World gets a lot of good mileage out of turning Thor into a fugitive forced to conspire with Loki, and the planet-hopping finale is the best live-action Portal rip-off we’re likely to get aside from fan films.
The production, not surprisingly, had its problems. The original director, Patty Jenkins, was more or less fired, reportedly upsetting Natalie Portman in the process and turning her into an actress only appearing in the film because she had to. The director they did go with, Alan Taylor, needed more reshoots than usual to get everything right. And the ending makes no sense.
As such, it’s not surprising to hear Alan Taylor, Marvel President Kevin Feige, and Tom Hiddleston tell Empire Film Magazine‘s “Spoiler Special” podcast just how much of the film came in post or ended up being cut:
1. Most of Loki’s Best Moment Came from Re-Shoots and Were First Suggested by Tom Hiddleston
This is what happened when Tom Hiddleston took the stage at this year’s Comic-Con:
And this is roughly went through Kevin Feige’s head when he saw that: “Oh, shit. They love him, and we didn’t give him nearly enough to do in The Dark World. Thank God for reshoots!”
So, they went back and added in new scenes, such as Loki standing trial in front of Odin at the beginning and Loki transforming into Captain America during the prison break sequence. Even before that, though, Hiddleston had already informed some of the best parts of the film, suggesting during pre-production that the script pair Thor and Loki together. He’s also the one who put forth the idea that Loki’s reaction to the death of his adopted mother should be to stand quietly before suddenly sending everything in the room spinning in a fit of rage.
2. The Captain America Cameo Was Originally Filmed with Tom Hiddleston in Chris Evans’ Cap Costume
For Thor: The Dark World‘s ending to make any sense, you need to know Loki can flat out make himself look like a different person entirely as opposed to only slightly altering his own appearance, as we’d already seen in Thor. You could argue the film still doesn’t really do enough to explain that, but it is at least established when Loki taunts Thor by transforming himself to first look like an Asgardian guard, then Sif (Jaimie Alexander), and then Captain America (Chris Evans). The Captain America cameo, in particular, elicits laughs every time.
Here’s how it was originally filmed:
When Evans had time away from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, they showed him the footage of Hiddleston and filmed the scene again with Evans doing an impression of Hiddleston’s mocking impression of him.
3. Malekith & Odin Originally Had a Scene Together That Test Screening Audiences Hated
The weak link of The Dark World is the somewhat undercooked villain Malekith, performed well enough by Christopher Eccleston but with too little material with which to work. That’s because some of Malekith’s material was cut from the film.
In the finished version of The Dark World, Malekith and his henchman murder Frigga (Renee Russo) a split second before Thor and Odin arrive, leaving them to flee just in time while Odin weeps the corpse of his wife.
That’s not the version test screening audiences saw.
In the original cut, Odin actually arrives before Thor with plenty of time to save his wife. He and Malekith have your standard “let the girl go!”/”not until you put down your weapon!” stand-off with Odin blinking first (there’s the potential for a further joke about a man with only one eye blinking that I’m sure I’m missing). Odin places his weapon on the ground, suing for peace, at which point the sequence plays out pretty much identical to the version we saw. That Odin would have been fooled into trusting Malekith in that moment does better explain his intransigence from that point forward. However, test screening audiences practically revolted at the idea of Odin being so easily tricked by Malekith. As such, their confrontation was cut out, and the sequence re-edited to make it appear as Odin arrives a moment too late, a change which made him seem more sympathetic.
4. The Death of Frigga Was in the Earliest Possible Script As a Way to Unite Loki and Thor
Contrary to what you might have assumed, Asgardians can die because if not that funeral they gave Frigga in The Dark World was a real waste of time. Coming into the movie, a big character death had been predicted, with Odin being the rumored candidate. According to Feige, it was always Frigga. The earliest possible draft of the script featured her death as the central instigating event of the story. They picked her is because her death seemed like the only thing that could unite Thor and Loki. Killing off Odin would be “tragic for the audience, tragic for Thor, but perhaps not for Loki.” It wasn’t until much later in the process they decided to fake-kill Loki.
5. That’s Not Actually Natalie Portman Getting Kissed in That Final Scene
That big romantic kiss between Thor and Jane in the final post-credits scene? Yeaaaaaaahhhh, not actually Natalie Portman. Wait, what? In that moment, we’re watching Chris Hemsworth passionately kiss his own wife, Elsa Pataky.
Hemsworth and wife Elsa Pataky, who stood in for Natalie Portman in the final scene of The Dark WorldAccording to Portman, the kiss scene came during reshoots, at which point Hemsworth was in Hong Kong and she was halfway around the globe working on her own film. So, they put a wig on Hemsworth’s wife, who also happens to be an actress herself, and filmed it that way. That’s not to say the kiss would have been any less spectacular had it actually been Portman, but Hemsworth obviously had extra motivation since it was his wife and everything (unless their’s is a passion-less, hated-filled marriage or something).
6. Jane Plays “Thor (The Thunder God)” on Her Piano?
Often times in areas where set decorators and props department people could merely slack off and say, “Who’s going to notice a little thing like that?” they instead go far and beyond the call of duty to help surround their actors with the type of inscrutable detail that helps them escape into the fictional universe of the film.
And then sometimes they just like to have a good laugh.
It’s hard to tell which one this falls under, but one impossible-to-notice detail in Jane Foster’s apartment (err, her mom’s apartment) indicates her pining for Thor went further than realized. According to an Empire Magazine writer who visited The Dark World set, Jane’s piano actually displays the sheet music for the song “Thor (The Thunder God).” The writer didn’t specify the artist, but it would appear as if multiple European power metal bands have recorded songs with that title.
7. Not Even They Know What Loki Did with Odin at The End
What the heck did Loki do with Odin at the end of the movie? We know he is now pretending to be him. But where’s the real Odin? Dead? Imprisoned somewhere?
Um, ask again later. This is one of those “tomorrow problems,” something they’ll figure out down the road. The ending is intentionally ambiguous, and as of this writing, neither Hiddleston nor Taylor or Feige claim to know for sure what Loki did to or with Odin. Moreover, the real Odin’s last line of the film is actually “Loki…” with audiences left to guess whether Odin is merely mourning his son or if he has seen through Loki’s ruse and is addressing him directly. We’ll just have to wait for the sequel to find out. How long could that take?
Update 11/7/17: 4 years. That’s how long it took.
8. Alan Taylor Is Happy to Not Take Credit for the Odd Guardians of the Galaxy Mid-Credits Scene
Perhaps no part of Thor: The Dark World has come under more scrutiny than the first mid-credits sequence featuring Benicio Del Toro being, well, incredibly weird as The Collector from Guardians of the Galaxy. His oddness makes Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) look like utter and complete idiots for entrusting one of the infinity stones to him, even if Odin/Loki ordered them to do it. They’ve basically just handed over a WMD to a quasi-villain who’s decided subtlety has had its day.
Of course, The Collector’s comic book history is not always so cut and dry meaning it’s possible he’ll be more of an ambiguous player in the movies. However, beyond all of that the most egregious sin of the sequence is how utterly and embarrassingly cheap it looks. As Vulture put it, “That scene looked like it cost about as much as the errant change scavenged from a Chuck E. Cheese carpet.”
There are those who will defend the scene, of course; Alan Taylor just isn’t one of them. That’s because it’s not actually his work. As per Marvel custom, since it’s a scene setting up Guardians they just had Guardians’ director James Gunn handle it. Here’s what Taylor told Bleeding Cool:
“It’s a different tone. I would have shot it differently. But I think it’s cool that it reaches out and touches that other universe. That universe is coming. The Guardians universe is really cool and wacky… but that sequence in the credits, I would say, is the only part of the movie where I’m happy to give the credit away”
9. They Coulda Had Patty Jenkins
Updated 11-7-17: Well, this one looks especially egregious now, but The Dark World was briefly supposed to be directed by Wonder Woman’s Patty Jenkins. Instead, they went with the guy who later made Terminator: Genisys, burned all his bridges in Hollywood and then returned to Game of Thrones a humbled man.
Jenkins, best known for The Killing and Monster, was hired in October 2011 to direct The Dark World and left two months later, citing the standard “creative differences,” which insider reports painted as more Marvel getting nervous about her ability to meet the November 2013 release date. Had those pesky “differences” not popped up she would have become the first female to direct a Marvel movie. That honor will now go to Anna Boden, the hired co-director of 2019’s Captain Marvel.
I think it all worked out for Jenkins.
What do you think? Is there anything I missed other than how the directions the woman gives Thor on the subway are 100% wrong? Let me know in the comments section.