Chris Hemsworth as Thor on the set of Marvel's 'Thor: The Dark World.'
Being on a Marvel set is like being in another universe, or more specifically, another realm.
Yahoo Movies, along with a select group of online journalists, had the chance to visit Asgard late last year for a "Thor: The Dark World" set visit. Marvel invited us to Longcross and Shepperton Studios – both just outside of London – to take in all the wonders of the Nine Realms.
A Marvel security guard told us it was the biggest set he'd ever seen the company produce. We have no reason to doubt him. We saw four distinct sets, all massive in scope yet intricate in detail. We saw the armory which housed over 1100 weapons all specially made for the film. We saw one of three prosthetics shops that changed ordinary humans into an army of Dark Elves.
Of course, the highlight of the set visit was getting to speak with Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston in costume as Thor and Loki, respectively. However, we were equally impressed by the behind-the-scenes masters who, through arduous and painstaking devotion to their craft, help make the unreal seem somehow possible.
Check out what we learned, after you watch Hiddleston give us a quick plot synopsis:
1. The action picks up where we left off:
"Basically, Avengers is kind of a side-step amongst everything for all the journeys. This is certainly a continuation of it but at the same time, Thor’s journey picks up from where we left the first one. He's about to take on the throne, earning the right to be king, and now coming to the realization of what responsibility comes with that." -- Chris Hemsworth, Thor
"Well inevitably, Loki’s back in Asgard. That’s where everybody saw him go with Thor at the end of 'Avengers' in Central Park. And what’s exciting about this film is it depicts the aftermath of those events. And you get to see the opinion of certain principle characters in Asgard. You get to see every character’s perspective on what Loki did." "The kind of the chemistry that he created just by being back there is unpredictable and fantastic." -- Tom Hiddleston, Loki
2. "Thor: The Dark World" is aptly named:
"The only qualm I had with [Kenneth Branagh's 'Thor'] was the look of it. To me, it felt too shiny and too brand new. And I understand all the choices. It's basically because the Asgardians, they were very much a futuristic alien race that we mistook for gods. And when I came in, I was in love with the Norse mythology. I was in love with sort of grounding it more into kind of a Viking or medieval look and a sort of a sense of history and weight and stuff like that." -- Alan Taylor, Director
"Alan [Taylor] said something fascinating that 'Thor: The Dark World' came as a title because the story revolves around Malekith, and he was a Dark Elf. So it’s not just about the mythological and physical battle between dark and light, but that there’s something about growing up and accepting responsibility, no matter who you are, whether you are a crowned king, a king in waiting, or a shamed prisoner accepting responsibility: growing up is dark. It’s a dark experience. It’s not easy. I think that’s what’s exciting about the material is that it sort of emotionally, psychologically and spiritually – I hope, you know we sit in the middle of it, but you hope it embraces a more complex and dark experience alongside lots of action." -- Hiddleston
"I can’t say this is the 'Empire Strikes Back' of our story line, but if it was, wouldn't that be amazing?" -- Craig Kyle, Producer
Alan Taylor directing Dark Elves on the set of Marvel's 'Thor: The Dark World.'
3. Director Alan Taylor's "Game of Thrones" experience will be felt:
"Alan, you can even see it with the set design, wanted to ground it in a more organic tone. It’s definitely 'Game of Thrones,' set in a reality-based world, but there’s fantasy elements which are quite prominent in this." -- Hemsworth
4. We'll get a chance to see much more of the Nine Realms:
"We certainly see more of Asgard, and more of the Nine Realms in this film than we did in, in 'Thor.' There’s a bigger universe out there which we get to explore." -- Hemsworth
5. But there will be plenty of action here on earth:
"It’s half on earth and then half on other worlds, a good chunk on Asgard, but then we are on other worlds as well." -- Kyle
"We feature a lot of the great landmarks in London. There’s huge action scenes in and around London." -- Charles Wood, Production Designer
Christopher Eccelston as Malekith in Marvel's 'Thor: The Dark World.'
6. The Dark Elves, led by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) are bad muthas:
"They haven’t been seen in 5000 years. As far as anyone knows Odin was a child the last time they were dealt with and believed to be wiped out. So, when they return, it’s not good news." -- Kyle
"They've been pissed off since the Big Bang." -- Taylor
"The basis of the Dark Elves is they’re very tribal, ethnic, very earthy, and they have a lot of depth of soul to their whole purpose, their whole way of life." -- David White, Prosthetics Designer
"With Malekith, it’s multi layered, but essentially there’s a furiously loyal bond between us because we’ve been on the frontline together and we lost a lot, so it’s almost like a brotherhood, a very deep brotherhood. But then there’s also a slight, almost like mentor [relationship]. The beauty about Algrim is it’s the kind of loyalty that is very rare – somebody who would lay their life on the line for a cause. And he feels that Malekith heads that cause. So they’re tight." -- Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Algrim/Kurse
"It was clear early on that we were going to be dealing with the Dark Elves and that Malekith was supposed to be our guy." "He's very much on a mission of vengeance and reclaiming what is rightfully his." "Being an American, I found myself bringing some Osama Bin Laden in." -- Taylor
"They have a very unique black hole kind of engine where they actually kind of pull themselves through space as opposed to propel themselves." -- Craig Kyle
7. The Dark Elves aren't the only threat:
"The Bifrost was destroyed at the end of the first Thor. Odin had to break a lot of rules and laws, and take a lot of himself to send Thor to earth in 'Avengers.' And during that time when they couldn't jump from Asgard to the other worlds, chaos reigned. And so, we come into a time of real strife in the Nine Realms." -- Kyle
"The majority of the [weapons] you see on the wall is for one sequence where we had a hundred and forty marauders, which were supposed to be a gang made up from space, yeah space cowboys, strike warriors from all of the Nine Realms." -- Barry Gibbs, Prop Master
"These guys are from all over. They’ve banded together largely just to become space pirates." -- Kyle
Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Marvel's 'Thor: The Dark World'
8. Loki is still a psychopath:
"The exciting question is why? Why does any psychopath perform those acts? Why does he wish everyone such ill and what does he want? Does he even care what he wants? And I think as an actor that’s a really exciting thing to delve into is when you’re that dark and you’re so full of destruction and hate and sabotage. And part of that is self-hate and self-sabotage. Motivation, it’s an interesting question to ask why." -- Hiddleston
9. Thor and Loki's relationship is still in flux:
"It's great to have some meatier stuff with Tom. Certainly in 'Avengers,' the stuff I got to sink my teeth into were those scenes. Following up our relationship and the ongoing question from Thor about what it is that Loki wants, and why, and how did we come to this? I think we get to possibly attack some of those questions properly." -- Hemsworth
"Thor’s attitude has to change therefore Loki’s attitude has to change and their relationship to each other, their need for each other, their antipathy, opposition to and from is constantly changing. That’s what makes it fun to play, these archetypal forces of dark and light. And like I said, the lightness and darkness is flickering between the two." -- Hiddleston
10. Idris Elba will play a bigger role:
"Heimdall also has some extraordinary scenes in this film. He really plays a much larger role, and he turned out to be a real fan favorite in the last film, so we were lucky to have him come back and do some more for us." -- Kyle
Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) isn't exactly getting along with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in Marvel's 'Thor: The Dark …
11. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) may take a minute to warm up to Thor:
"Obviously Natalie’s in the film, and it picks up where we left off with the bridge being broken between them, and how do we fix that?" -- Hemsworth
"It’s been about a year and a half, two years since the first movie, and, you know, promises were made: 'I’ll come back for you,' [said Thor to Jane.] He did come back, [but] not for her. That’ll be awkward when they hook up again." -- Kyle
12. Special effects are grounded in the real world:
"I would say the main thing we've been doing with this is just try to focus on how we can make sure that the work we do on this one is you know, as ultra-realistic as they can possibly be. And our focus on that has really been to try and make sure that we use as many locations as we can and as much aerial work, as much a helicopter work as we can get in there." -- Jake Morrison, Visual Effects
13. The film will be released in 3D, but it wasn't shot with 3D in mind:
"We heard that partway through, and we are aware of it now. I am not radically changing the way I'm shooting it. I think we have wonderful imagery. I think that's one of the great things about the Marvel universe is it gives you a chance to play with big, wonderful imagery, which hopefully will be a pleasure in 3D. But we aren't throwing spears at the camera any more than we were before." -- Taylor
14. It may be darker and more realistic feeling, but...
"We stick to the science fiction angle for ours, and keep it unique and, and very reflective of what we love in the comics. So, if we’ve done our job right, and I feel we’re right on track, it should feel like the Asgard we knew from the first film and they’re just getting a deeper exposure to it from both the personal and walking through the sights and sounds of it as well." -- Kyle
"Thor: The Dark World" hammers its way into theaters November 8.
See Chris Hemsworth and company in the theatrical trailer for "Thor: The Dark World":
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- Chris Hemsworth
- Tom Hiddleston