This week sees the release of Thor: Love and Thunder, the latest instalment in the Thor franchise that began way back in 2011 – or back in 1987, if we’re going to count Adventures in Babysitting. With all of the hype surrounding the new movie, it’s easy to forget that Chris Hemsworth’s Norse God/beefy extraterrestrial was also the centrepiece of one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s worst movies; Thor: The Dark World – AKA the one that begins with Dr. Erik Selvig exposing his junk at Stonehenge (and goes downhill from there).

Amazingly, it turns out that Thor: The Dark World was almost as tortuous to make as it was to watch. How? Well, for starters …

The Original Director Quit Over The Crappy Script

The original Thor was, of course, helmed by former Hamlet director and future mustache trauma specialist Kenneth Branagh. When he bowed out of the sequel in order to “recharge” Marvel approached Game of Thrones director Brian Kirk. When those plans fell through, they hired Patty Jenkins, who would, of course, go on to direct Wonder Woman, but at that point was mainly known for directing 2003’s acclaimed Monster – which come to think of it was also the story of someone with long blonde hair and a penchant for sleeveless shirts.

Reportedly, co-star Natalie Portman “strongly urged” Marvel to hire Jenkins, who would have been “the first woman to direct a superhero tentpole” at the time – something she later achieved at a rival studio. According to Jenkins, her pitch for the story was a riff on Romeo and Juliet, in which Thor is “forbidden” to “save Jane because Earth doesn’t matter.” When he does so anyway, they “end up discovering that Malekith is hiding the dark energy inside of Earth” and got away with it because “Odin doesn’t care about” our planet. Which, to be honest, sounds way better than what we got in the end. 

Unfortunately, Jenkins’ idea was rejected, which left her “heartbroken.” She ultimately left the project; and while some reports at the time claimed that she was fired, Jenkins later clarified that she left the project due to the abject terribleness of the script she was handed, and because she was worried that the resulting mess “​​would have looked like it was my fault.” Which, in retrospect, was a good call. No word on why she didn’t play the same card for Wonder Woman 1984, though.

Natalie Portman Tried To Get Out Of Her Contract

Following Jenkins’ exit, Natalie Portman was as pissed off as the Natalie Portman in that Lonely Island video.

Portman had been key in the hiring of Jenkins, and it was her participation that had apparently “re-engaged” her in the project during a time when she was reticent to accept work after having a new baby. Reports at the time said that Marvel was “working overtime to smooth over the situation.” How? Well “by including her in discussions about whom to hire as a replacement” – and those discussions reportedly boiled down to picking between two dudes.

Articles at the time recounted stories of how Portman, who was contractually bound to appear in the sequel, tried to get out of the film but Marvel “coerced her to honour the agreement.” Which is partly why it was so surprising that she would reprise the role nine years later for Love and Thunder, although she was promised that in the new movie she would have “a bit more license to be adventurous and fun” as opposed to her experience on The Dark World which was … probably the opposite of adventure and fun. 

The Director “Lost The Will To Make Movies” As A Result

Marvel eventually hired a new director; Alan Taylor, who, not unlike the studio’s original pick, had worked on Game of Thrones, which clearly they were trying to emulate in the Thor franchise – and, since there were no jokes or Guns N Roses needle drops during the Red Wedding, it really goes to show how far the series has shifted tonally over the years.

Judging from more recent interviews, Taylor didn’t have the best experience with The Dark World; the story was such a mess at one point the studio “airlifted” Joss Whedon to the set as if he were “a SWAT team” purely just to rewrite a problematic scene – and we mean “problematic” in the sense that the scene wasn’t working, not problematic like, say, Joss Whedon.

Taylor also found his “radically” overhauled during postproduction. Studio-mandated reshoots and editing choices resulted in “major plot differences'.' According to Taylor, in the new cut of the film, suddenly “people who had died were not dead, people who had broken up were back together again.” At the time, Taylor publicly chalked this up to the “Marvel process” but has since been more critical of these “big corporate demands.” After the less-than-warm critical reception of The Dark World, and his big screen follow-up Terminator Genisys, Taylor apparently “lost the will to make movies” and “lost the will to live as a director.”

Pretty Much Every Actor Hated The Experience

It wasn’t just the director, pretty much every actor involved with the project describes the gig with all the fondness of a rectal exam. Like Christopher Eccelston, who played Malekith, the villainous dark elf. Eccelston claimed that he had a “miserable experience” and even compared the shoot to having a “gun in your mouth.” He also claimed that Marvel had been “dishonest” about the amount of prosthetics his character would require, telling him that it was only “a little bit of make-up.” Which he believed, presumably because all Will Ferrell had to do was throw on a green suit and some tights.

Meanwhile Idris Elba, who played Heimdell, called his agent to try and get out of the production, calling it “torture.” Furthering the indigity, Elba was hot off of a starring role as Nelson Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, and thought to himself: “‘24 hours ago, I was Mandela.’ … Then there I was, in this stupid harness, with this wig and this sword and these contact lenses. It ripped my heart out.”

Worse was the experience of actress Jamie Alexander, AKA Lady Sif. During one scene, Alexander slipped and fell, sustaining an injury that nearly left her paralyzed. According to Alexander: "I herniated a disk in my Thoracic spine, I dislocated my left shoulder, I tore my right Rhomboid, and chipped eleven of my vertebrae.” She ended up in the hospital and had to do physical rehab for a month all, and we can’t overstate this enough, in the service of goddamn Thor: The Dark World. And while star Chris Hemsworth has been tactfully quiet on the issue, in 2018 he eventually admitted to an interviewer that the sequel was “meh.” Yeah, even friggin’ Thor wasn’t a fan.

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