Thor: Love And Thunder Shot One Of Its Biggest Scenes In A Parking Lot

If you've ever been on a film set, you know the dirty, filthy, stinky, no-good truth about making motion pictures: it's just a job! There are cables everywhere, everyone is tired and just wants to eat lunch, and hours can pass without anything exciting or remotely interesting happening. Sure, movies are art, but moviemaking? That's a craft, and it means it's never as romantic or magical as movies about movies want you to think it is. Movie sets are places where people have to hunker down and do the work first, and worry about the "art" of it all later on. 

This applies to movie sets of all sizes and budgets, but it's especially true on massive sets for massive blockbusters, which can feel staggeringly unromantic. In the case of Marvel's newest movie, "Thor: Love and Thunder," we're talking "key scenes shot in the parking lot of a Best Buy" levels of staggeringly unromantic. There's a grand irony there: modern film technology has allowed filmmakers to create vast and amazing worlds, and these tools are so powerful that they can transform the cheapest, easiest, and most convenient places for a film shoot into those worlds.

And Natalie Portman, who returns to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with "Thor: Love and Thunder," knows a thing or two about a mundane set becoming a distant world. She's a pro. But even she was surprised by how effectively director Taika Waititi and his team transformed retail parking lot into the most beautiful scene in the movie. 

Ah, movie magic!

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly (via Variety), Portman said that the most stunning sequence in the latest "Thor" movie was filmed in a place usually reserved for the automobiles of harried shoppers trying to find the right cable because their dog chewed on the current one, and they can't wait two days for an Amazon delivery: 

"There's one scene that's one of the most visually beautiful scenes I've seen on film, and we shot [it] in real life in a Best Buy parking lot. It's so wild to be on this size of movie, and we were literally in a parking lot with a blue screen, doing this really dramatic thing. It looks so stunning on film, but every time I see it, I'm like, 'That's a Best Buy parking lot.'"

Portman doesn't relay which scene it is, but with a film so full of digital effects like this one, it doesn't really matter. Virtually any given scene in "Thor: Love and Thunder" could've been filmed in a parking lot, with the entire landscape swapped out by a team of talented digital effects artists. Whether you find this incredible or annoying says a lot about your opinion of modern blockbuster filmmaking. (For the record: you can also feel both ways!)

A special set of skills

Of course, Portman has plenty of experience using her imagination to fill in the gaps on set. After all, she acted out an entire trilogy of space opera action with the "Star Wars" prequel films, which tasked her with standing in front of a green/blue screen and hoping for the best. Back then, Portman and actors like Ewan McGregor were learning, sometimes the hard way, how difficult it can be to play pretend when the world around you doesn't actually exist yet. They were, in many ways, inventing modern blockbuster acting. Now, an actor who is incapable of acting in front of a green screen, or in the parking lot of a Best Buy, may have a rough go of it. Those have become required skills over the past 20 years.

With shows like "The Mandalorian" and "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" utilizing new technology that places actors within fully-rendered digital sets, these kinds of stories are only going to get more common. As long as you have a controlled space with the proper lighting, resources, and experts, you can turn any spot into anywhere. You can turn a parking lot into a paradise. And you can get increasing mileage out of snarky jokes about Marvel movies being filmed in front of Best Buy stores.

"Thor: Love and Thunder" hits theaters on July 8, 2022.