Emmy Award-winning, Academy Award-nominated Northern Irish actor and film director Kenneth Branagh is in talks to helm a big screen adaptation of Marvel Comics’ Thor. Branagh is an odd choice as he hasn’t directed an action movie in 19 years. And his feature directorial debut of William Shakespeare’s play Henry V is hardly audition material for a big budget American superhero film. But I guess the same could be said for Bryan Singer, before he was brought on to direct X-Men.
Written by Mark Protosevich, the story begins as the arrogant God Thor is sent by his father Odin to learn humility in the body of a partially disabled medical student Donald Blake. He discovers Thor’s hammer and learns to change back and forth into the Thunder God. Marvel will self-fiance the production, and a distributor is expected to be announced shortly. Marvel has announced a June 4th 2010 release date for the film.
Branagh will next be seen in Bryan Singer’s Valkyrie this December. Branagh’s last directorial effort Sleuth starred Jude Law and Michael Caine, and grossed $703,000 worldwide. His filmography also includes The Magic Flute, As You Like It, Hamlet (1996), Frankenstein (1994) and Much Ado About Nothing.
Discuss: What do you think of Marvel’s choice of Branagh to direct Thor?
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With Matthew Vaughn off directing Kick-Ass and his once-proposed $300 million Thor epic but a memory, DJ Caruso (Disturbia, Eagle Eye) is now expressing interest in bringing Marvel‘s Son of Odin to the big screen. In an interview with IESB he said…
“…I would definitely tackle it and I sort of wrestled with it before and I was always a fan of Thor growing up as a kid. I know that they [Marvel] have a script, but there’s something, there’s a fear I have about Thor and depending on what Thor story you want to tell, whether you want to bring Thor into the modern world or if you want to go back to Asgard…”
He added that he’s even had talks with Marvel about the film, but it all comes down to the screenplay. Last year, screenwriter Mark Protosevich (I Am Legend, longtime Thor fan/collector) described his script to the Daily Herald as…
“It’s going to be like a super hero origin story, but not one about a human gaining super powers, but of a god realizing his true potential. It’s the story of a Old Testament god who becomes a new Testament god. I think it’s going to surprise a lot of people.”
And Vaughn was attracted to the project due to its pricey vision of Norse mythology, saying, “It’s very much a Marvel superhero story but against the backdrop of something you’ve never seen before.” All of which lends credence to a storyline focusing on Asgard and Thor’s villainous brother, Loki.
In the past, Peter hasn’t been too convinced that this character will work on film (Adventures in Babysitting excluded?), but mixing LOTR and Conan-like fantasy, a timeline that can jump across thousands of years, and a huge budget sits well with me. I like the idea of seeing iconic comic characters placed in film genres like War and Pulp Noir rather than running around another modern day metropolis; though Thor could go that direction as well. Caruso is still circling Y: The Last Man with Shia LaBeouf (and hopefully not Alicia Keys), a property that is nearly as challenging to pull off as this one in my opinion (I’ve got 15 issues to go).
And in a report on 20th Century Fox‘s future plans, Variety says the studio is mulling “the possibility of more X-Men spinoffs, including a young-X-Men project as well as Deadpool, based on a character played by Ryan Reynolds in Wolverine. The studio is even considering reviving the Daredevil property.”
In the summer of 2003, the groanable Ben Affleck-starrer coasted to a disappointing $102 million, and led many to predict the cooling of the comic book film, especially after the hokey 2005 Elektra spin-off (which Johnson produced). Recently, Jason Statham threw his name in for a DD remake. While I’m not adverse to that hypothetical casting, since a reboot would remain parked at Fox and not Marvel Studios, I do hope it stays on ice a while longer. Peter has suggested that the character is perfect for a live-action HBO series, and I agree. There is a humanity and struggle—not to mention room for a great procedural drama—to Daredevil that would be better explored on a smaller screen rather than in a me-too blockbuster.
Discuss: DJ Caruso for Thor. Why not? What’s the argument for a big budget Thor working as a Marvel Studios film and vice versa? Is a Daredevil reboot needed? On one hand, Batman Begins, on the other, The Incredible Hulk. Would you prefer a hypothetical HBO series, like Slashfilm’s crew, instead?
Marvel just announced a June 4th 2010 release date for Thor (six weeks after Iron Man 2), but Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust) is no longer is attached to direct the live action adaptation because his holding deal expired December. Back in October Vaughn told the Guardian that Marvel loved the latest draft of the script, which he was working on with Mark Protosevich (I Am Legend).
“The only problem is that it has been costed at $300m and they ask how I am going to reduce it by $150m. I think I prefer being asked what it’s like working with De Niro.”
Vaughn was also previously attached to direct X-Men 3 but left the project at the last minute due to pressures. Marvel is now waiting on a script polish from screenwriter Mark Protosevich before they find a new director. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige describes Thor as a period fantasy in the vein of The Lord of the Rings series.
“It’s very much a Marvel superhero story but against the backdrop of nothing you’ve seen before.”
A $150-$300 million period fantasy comic book adaptation? Sounds like Marvel’s first disaster of epic-proportions. Count me in.
It has been rumored for a couple months now that Stardust director Matthew Vaughn was in talks to direct a big screen adaptation of the Marvel Comics character Thor. And this morning Marvel has made the deal official.
I Am Legend scribe Mark Protosevich penned the adaptation. The Mighty Thor is a Marvel Comics superhero based on the thunder god of Norse mythology. The character was created by comic book legends Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Larry Lieber. In the comic book series, Thor is on a mission from his father Odin to be a superhero on Earth while hiding under the secret identity of Dr. Donald Blake. Thor would transform by tapping his walking stick on the ground.
While it made for good comics in the 70’s and 80’s, I think Thor is just one of those comic book characters that won’t translate well in a live action movie. It seems to me that most of the good superhero characters have already been tapped, and now they’re digging into the middle of the bucket. And the middle of the bucket isn’t good film material. And one must wonder if Vaughn will have another “freak out” and walk away from this project.
Vaughn was originally set to direct X-Men 3 but left the project a couple months before production was to begin citing personal reasons. Many people believe he caved to the pressures of directing a huge superhero film. Vaughn’s Layer Cake is quite impressive for his debut film, but Stardust didn’t even fulfill my already low expectations.
Marvel is aiming to start production early this winter, before the looming strike hits Hollywood.
I Am Legend screenwriter Mark Protosevich is already talking about a potential sequel. The LA Times writes:
“There is no word yet on how Protosevich plans to extend the story of lone military scientist Robert Neville’s struggle to survive against a mutant populace. But it’s a good bet that he’s setting it at least 10 years in the future.”
Of course, a sequel all depends on the box office success of the first film. I Am Legend is a modern day adaptation of the classic 1954 science fiction novel by Richard Matheson. Will Smith stars as Robert Neville, a former scientist who is the last uninfected human in Manhattan, if not the world. Warner Bros has been developing the project since 1994. At one point Ridley Scott was attached to direct while Arnold Schwarzenegger was in talks to star. I Am Legend hits theaters on December 14, 2007.