What Went Wrong With 'Thor 2' And 'Terminator: Genisys', According To Director Alan Taylor

It's entirely possible that few working directors have experienced as much of a Jekyll and Hyde career split so evenly between movies and TV as much as Alan Taylor has. His consistently exemplary work on Sex and the City, The Sopranos, LostMad MenGame of Thrones, and more speaks for itself, but it's almost completely counterbalanced by the disastrous movie productions of Thor: The Dark World and Terminator: Genisys.

Taylor's next project will be a perfect synthesis between the two mediums and it's providing him the opportunity to reminisce (not too fondly) on his previous film experiences.

Alan Taylor vs the Marvel Machine

Taylor is currently taking on The Many Saints of Newark, the movie prequel for the hit television series, The Sopranos. In a profile with THR, Taylor discussed his journey from a predominantly TV-focused director (albeit for several popular and successful shows) to finally getting that call from Marvel.

As Taylor describes it, the once-in-a-lifetime moment "...seemed like this was the next big step. It felt necessary and 'onward and upward.'" Taylor acknowledges that Marvel was looking to shake things up with Thor: The Dark World and that he was called in to "bring some Game of Thrones to it." Of course, that didn't quite pan out as the film underwent several changes throughout filming and post-production. Taylor goes into greater detail:

"The version I had started off with had more childlike wonder; there was this imagery of children, which started the whole thing. There was a slightly more magical quality. There was weird stuff going on back on Earth because of the convergence that allowed for some of these magical realism things. And there were major plot differences that were inverted in the cutting room and with additional photography — people [such as Loki] who had died were not dead, people who had broken up were back together again. I think I would like my version."

This might be the most candid Taylor has ever been regarding his experiences with The Dark World. Clearly much of the actual plot remained in flux throughout shooting with major aspects of the script changing at any given moment, so it couldn't have been easy to have a front row seat in witnessing the film he intended to make (which I very much would've liked to see) turn into something else entirely. To his credit, he seems to understand where Marvel was coming from and recognizes his own limits.

"I really admire the skill set of somebody who can go in with a very personal vision — like Taika Waititi or James Gunn — and manage to combine it with the big corporate demands. I think my skill set may be different."

Alan Taylor vs the Pressures of Terminator

Within months of working on The Dark World, Alan Taylor subsequently found himself courted to direct another franchise picture. That didn't go very well, either.

Much like ThorTerminator: Genisys was a critical dud despite grossing a respectable sum at the box office. But this time around, Taylor admits that he ignored some warning signs (including his girlfriend, who read the script and told him to work on something "personal" instead) and forged ahead because the opportunity was simply too tempting to pass up.

"All the voices in my head, and all the ones around me, were saying I should do it because who didn't love the first two films? I thought we would go in and fix the script and everything could be great."

This is as understandable a position as there is in filmmaking. In-demand directors can find themselves in an impossible spot where they can either listen to their gut and walk away from a risky project on a scale that they may never approach ever again (which is what Patty Jenkins did when she turned down the Thor 2 gig previously), or they can try to make the most of a messy situation and hope for the best. Taylor attempted to do the latter and, unfortunately, it didn't work out as planned. Take it from the man himself, who is brutally honest about how hard he took the poor reception to Genisys.

"I had lost the will to make movies. I lost the will to live as a director. I'm not blaming any person for that. The process was not good for me. So I came out of it having to rediscover the joy of filmmaking."

Thankfully, he's had much better days since and currently has his hands full with The Many Saints of Newark. Some people may see his name attached to the upcoming movie and only remember his most high-profile misfires, but there's a very good reason why he was brought back to the Sopranos series on which he first left such an indelible mark. Fingers crossed that pivoting to prequel territory helps him fare better than those earlier franchise sequels.

The Many Saints of Newark is due in theaters on October 1, 2021.