In theaters July 8 is the highly anticipated “Thor: Love and Thunder,” with returning writer/director Taika Waititi and cast members Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Natalie Portman (Jane Foster/ Mighty Thor) and Tessa Thompson (King Valkyrie), and new villain Christian Bale (Gorr the God Butcher). Prior to the film’s release, the cast gathered with Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige to discuss the what has changed and what has stayed the same since “Ragnarok.”
On the changes that Taika Waititi has brought to the character and the franchise:
Chris Hemsworth: [Waititi] brought out the immature, young, adolescent quality that I embody. And so does Thor now, which he didn’t in the original films, which was exciting and new and fresh. And that’s, you know, always the sort of North Star is about having fun, you know. Embodying this space as a child would and enjoying all of it and being caught up in the wonder and the fascination of all of it. And not getting bogged down in the serious sort of nature that we can when making films, you know. Personally, with these kind of films, it’s got to be fun, and that’s what we’ve done. That’s what I’ve related to. That’s what Taika’s kind of insisted upon, and it’s been fun.
Kevin Feige: Taika certainly brought another dimension that was always there within Chris. There were moments, even going back to EPK interviews between the two of them on our New Mexico set, where Chris was… I was like, “Is he trying to be funny? Or is it…? No, he is being funny. He’s, like, hilarious.” And beginning to… And I saw a clip of Ultron the other day, where he’s trying to make Ruffalo feel better about smashing a bunch of people, and it’s so funny. And it’s so… it’s like this expert timing. And Taika was like, “What are you guys doing with him just, you know, holding a hammer up with lightning? Let’s do that and tap into everything Chris can do.”
On brining back familiar characters for new roles and introducing a new villain.
Natalie Portman: It was pretty wild, of course. After seeing Chris wear the costume for so many years, and then to try, you know, the version on myself and getting fitted for all the, you know, arm cuffs and the boots and everything was pretty surreal for the first time…. I was especially grateful to everyone’s imagination to cast a five-three actress in a six-foot role. I think that takes a real leap of possibility in your mind and probably not something I will, you know, get the opportunity to do, to be imagined as, by any other group. So, it was a great challenge and got to… You know, Tessa and Chris obviously had a lot of experience in that world, so got to learn a lot from them.
Christian Bale: I think, you know, you were talking about what everyone was looking for in Chris. I think in Gorr, they look for an actor polar opposite. Someone not relatable, a bit of a loner, creepy, someone no one wants to be around, and nobody wants to see his ass. And so, I think they went, “Yeah, we found it in Bale.” You know, he’s… Of course, look, there’s a great pleasure in playing a villain. It’s a lot easier to play a villain than it is to play a hero. Chris had a much tougher job, you know. Everyone is fascinated with bad guys, right, immediately. And then, the beauty of it is that Taika can make it bloody hilarious and then really moving as well in this story.
On creating the right tone and mood of the universe:
Tessa Thompson: It’s been really fun. I mean, the thing that I’ve really enjoyed about these films, and certainly I think something that Stan Lee talked a lot about, whether it’s a villain or a hero. The thing sometimes that connect them to their power, whether it’s used for good or bad, is actually their trauma. And so, when we first met Valkyrie, she had a tremendous amount of it, and she was dealing with that by drinking a lot. And for Taika and I, we talked a lot about, like, upending what it looks… what a female superhero looks like. That you sort of have this moment where she comes out, and you think it’s gonna be sort of that badass thing. And then, she immediately falls over. And that was really fun to both try to inhabit the spirit and the kind of physicality that it takes to be a hero, which is its own skill.
Taika Waititi: We just wanted to spend as much money as we possibly could on some songs. It’s always been a dream of mine. The whole aesthetic around the film was always we wanted it to be this bombastic, loud, colorful palette, which kind of reflected, like, spray painted panel vans in the eighties and rock album covers. And, even the title treatment, you know, for the film, it’s the kind of thing I would’ve drawn on my school book in class when I wasn’t listening.
“Thor: Love and Thunder” is in theaters July 8.