Third in the “Thor” pictures and the next entry to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is “Thor: Ragnarok.” Prior to its release next month, the cast, director and producer gathered in Beverly Hills to discuss what sets “Ragnarok” apart from its predecessors, the role of new characters and how some familiar ones have changed. Present at the event was Kevin Feige (President of Marvel Studios, producer), Taika Waititi (director), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Kate Blanchett (Hela), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk), Jeff Goldblum (The Grandmaster), Karl Urban (Skurge) and Rachel House (Topaz).
The panel first discussed how “Thor: Rangarok” diverted from “Thor” and “Dark World,” and the factors that made this film stand out among the MCU:
Chris Hemsworth: “Taika Waititi, basically. I think we all had a, a vision, and an idea, and a want to do something vastly different than what we’d done before, and take it to a different place. And that meant kind of doing away with what we knew, and just reinventing it, and it all came from his crazy, wonderful brain, and his inspiration, and him pushing us every day on set, and constantly encouraging us to improvise, and explore, and take risks.”
Takia Watiti: “I knew my strengths were just like tone, character, and you know, relationships, and things, and I had to ignore the scale of this monster, this beast… It’s a huge, huge film. And what can be distracting on set is if you look over your shoulder, and you see 300 people standing there.”
Kevin Feige: “And if you look at the movie, it’s got the epic action. It’s got Thor arguably more powerful than he’s ever been in any of the films, with his powers going up against the Hulk, but at the same time embracing what Mr. Hemsworth does better than anyone up until now has ever been able to see, which is his acting chops expands to comedy in an amazing, in an amazing way. And Taika giving them the confidence to explore that, and to try things.”
Thompson, Goldblum and Blanchett commented on their characters and what it’s like to become a part of the Marvel Universe:
Tessa Thompson: “You know, the things that I thought about the particulars of Valkyrie had more to do with, like mass and size. For example, I thought, like ‘Oh, I’m – I’m short,’ you know. Or like, ‘I’m not buff enough.’ Or how – you know, she’s arguably as strong as Thor.”
Jeff Goldblum: “Joining a group like this, a cast like this is a dream come true. Taika – working with Taika, that was my first, you know, connection point to the movie. We had a meeting, and hit it off, and he said what we were gonna do, and improvise, and have fun…. They know how to make these epic productions, and popular movies, but they want to make good movies. And they somehow uniquely know how to do them, that feels to me like an actorly, workshop-y, character-y, improvisatory, delightful experience – and make a movie that I think skins the cat like this is just – I’m grateful, overwhelmingly grateful.”
Cate Blanchett: “It was hugely enjoyable for me. And apart from working with these guys, obviously, the chance to finally, in my deep middle age, to get fit, and to wear that much lycra was really exciting for me…. I went back to two things, primarily. I went back to the extraordinary images that are there in the original comics, and then I went to the fan base, ‘cause there’s all these Hela fan girls who are doing these extraordinary make-ups online…. So I started with the visual, rather than the textural, I think.”
Finally, Hemsworth and Hiddleston addressed how they approached the significant changes to the characters of Thor and Loki in this film:
Chris Hemsworth: “It just helped kind of shed anything too familiar. You know, I feel like, well, holding the hammer, or even the wig in the previous costume, certainly just put me in a place, and set me on a path of what I already knew. And I wanted it to be unfamiliar, and so everything from the hammer, to the costume, the hair – made me, and allowed me to move differently, and forced me to move differently, and so that was a great thing.”
Tom Hiddleston: “I mean, in a way, in this film, it is about, I think … the development of the relationship between Thor and Loki, his brothers, is – Thor has evolved, and grown, and matured; and Loki in a way is stuck in his struggles of the past. And that’s, in a way, that’s the challenge for Loki in this, is that he’s got to confront the fact that time is moving on, and people change.”
“Thor: Ragnarok” comes to theaters Nov. 2.