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This great article on one8one.com is hugely informative, both about the upcoming Thor: The Dark World movie and about the Marvel universe of Thor in general. I’ll post some tidbits I found particularly interesting here, but it’s a long article and you may want to check out the whole thing. Don’t be put off by the very beginning which is just the standard “here’s what the movie’s about” thing we’ve been hearing for a year or so now.

Director Alan Taylor on Thor’s characterization arc:

In the first film, we saw Thor go from being an impetuous prince to taking his first steps towards maturing and growing up, and in our film that life story continues. He’s moving closer to actually claiming the kind of power that comes with Odin. He’s becoming not just a man, but potentially a king as well. In this story, as Thor matures and deepens, he has to give some things up and suffer.

What will Thor have to give up? Most Thor fans will have heard the rumors that this character or that character will die (I won’t repeat them here, I wish I myself had never heard them). Alan Taylor even said in an interview not too long ago something along the lines of “characters we love are going to die.” I try to take this with a grain of salt, and personally I don’t want to know any spoilers on that. The week or so between international and US release I will spend living in fear of losing out on having a real movie experience with this things I’ve waited so long for — Coke and popcorn and all the surprises that are supposed to be surprises.

Who are Malekith and the Dark Elves?

Malekith is leader of the dark elves, who inhabit Svartalfheim, one of the Nine Realms. After waging war with the Nine Realms, and being defeated by Asgard, the dark elves were considered to be extinct. But Malekith put his planet and the surviving dark elves into hibernation for many thousands of years, until a calculated time when he was ready to avenge the universe and turn light once more into darkness. Malekith and the dark elves will prove to be formidable enemies with a violent and personal history with Asgard.

I’m not sure if this is meant to refer to TDW or to the comics, which the article was discussing right before this. But it sounds in line with a recent clip I saw in which Thor says something about “every 5,000 years,” I think.

The definitive (I guess!) list of Marvel’s Nine Realms:

Asgard – Home of the Gods
Vanaheim – Home of the Vanir, sister race of the Asgardians.
Alfheim – Home of the Light Elves
Nidavellir – Home of the Dwarves
Midgard – Earth
Jotunheim – Home of the Frost Giants
Svartalfheim – Home of the Dark Elves
Niflheim – Land of the dead

Muspelheim – Home of the Fire Demons and Home of Sutur

Well, thank God for that! Ha. But seriously, I write fanfiction, and I spent ridiculous amounts of time trying to figure out exactly what the “nine realms” were! You’d think it’s simple — it’s not. It’s not at all clear from mythology, where sometimes it’s not clear if references to two places are actually the same realm, for example. Nowhere in mythology are these “nine realms” listed out…at least as far as I found. And even Marvel source material I found to be inconsistent. I didn’t honestly care that much, but I didn’t want to get it wrong, you know? So I was very happy to find this list because it jives with what I went with in the end, with the exception of Niflheim here…which is perhaps the same as Helheim? Helheim is what I called it anyway.

Hemsworth on Thor’s characterization and arc:

I love playing the character. The trick is each time to find new ways to make the character have some sort of advance or growth from the last one,” explains Hemsworth. “I think you’ve got to make sure the hero is a big catalyst to the resolution from the beginning, that he’s not just there to step in at the very end and save the day. He has to be proactive throughout. There’s a definite conflict within Thor about where his place was. Was it with Jane on Earth or was it in Asgard, and where does his allegiance lie? Also, he’s beginning to understand the darker sides of what it truly means to be king and the burden of the throne.

Beautiful. I do love it when actors talk about characterization. We hear more from Hiddleston on this, so it’s a delight to hear from Hemsworth as well here. And all good stuff that makes me eager to see Thor take this journey.

On Erik Selvig post-Loki-trauma:

Within the Marvel Universe we last saw him possessed by Loki in “Marvel’s The Avengers.” This experience has left the scientist traumatized and his former colleagues discover his current location by accident, when he is caught on national TV news, half naked at the ancient sacred site of Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, England.

Oh, boy…so that’s why that one clip shows him standing around in shorts looking really scruffy! Poor Erik.

Hopkins on playing Odin:

He admits that he is not well versed in Marvel or Nordic mythology, but explains, “I just play him like a human being, with maybe a little more dimension. I grow a beard, look hopefully impressive and try and keep it as real as possible.”

Bravo, bravo. For me at least, this is what I really like best about Thor and the Thor characters — they are larger than life, but at the heart, they are a family, and a group of friends, with the conflicts and so forth that can happen in any family right here on Earth. (Okay, okay, no, I doubt any Earth family has rescued a baby from another planet and changed its appearance to pass it off as human…but you know what I mean.) Two brothers vying for a father’s love…or one brother vying for because he doesn’t feel like he’s ever had it…

Ray Stevenson on Volstagg’s…family?:

You get a chance to see Volstagg with his family, which was a big surprise. I’ve got these naughty cherubic sort of bouncy kids, which is just a lot of fun.

Well, yay! Volstagg in the comics has kids. Like a billion of them. Okay, what, at least five or six or so? Anyway, whatever the details, I like this. TV/movie characters are never (reasonably) happily married with kids it seems…which is really kind of silly. Seems especially true in sci-fi. So bravo that Volstagg’s a dad…and I presume married!

Hiddleston…well, being Hiddleston:

On one level he is an off- the-rails psychopathic agent of chaos, but on a human level, his psychology and his emotional landscape is very, very interesting because he’s so intelligent and yet so broken. This film is a chance to find where his capacity for heroism and his Machiavellian menace meet.

Can anyone else out there speak this eloquently about the character they play? (And BTW, is Loki a psychopath? I would say “anti-social personality disorder.” Check out this amateur evaluation just for fun.)

Also, Christopher Eccleston talks about wanting to play the villain Malekith with intelligence, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje talks about how he perceives villain Kurse as a victim in the story, as part of a race that lost their planet to the Asgardians. This type of talk makes me happy, because one thing Thor and The Avengers have given us is a complex, interesting “villain” in Loki. We care about Loki because we know what has led him to what he’s become. He’s not evil-for-evil’s-sake, not by a long shot.

The full article has a final section on basically settings and the “look” of the movie, and earlier are some short quotes from a few of the other main actors.

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