Monday, June 1, 2009

Thor Writers Talk Script

"Thor" is one of a few Marvel films that are in some stage of production right now and recently CineFools got a chance to talk to the script writers Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz. The two answered a variety of questions about developing the script with Marvel. Checkout what they had to say below...

The biggest question asked was how did their writing team handling dealing with the god of thunder and lightning in a Marvel world that has been based in realism up to this point. Ashley Miller replied, "As for realism, i have to ask you back: what does that mean? If the standard is, does he throw his back out if he hurls the hammer a little too hard... probably not. He's a god. He's incredibly strong. He can fly. He tosses lightning bolts. There's nothing realistic about any of that." Kraaaakbooom, damn right Thor throws some lightning around! Miller continued, "But he also bleeds. He struggles. Life kicks him where it hurts the most. Dramatically speaking, the powers and Asgard are gravy. The meat -- and what makes it a Marvel movie -- is the character." His last point is well noted. Rich character development is what worked so well in last year's Iron Man or Incredible Hulk.

Thor however is a god, which could make him harder to approach or connect with. Ashley Miller also tackled the question, "Thor's powers are godly, yes. And his zip code is a little different. But at the end of the day, he's a man. In the comics, Odin sends him to Earth because he's not perfect. He's brash, arrogant. Even over-confident. We all know that guy -- some of us have even been that guy. Stan Lee's genius was to give Thor-as-hero an emotional throughline we could all relate to, and knock him down a couple of pegs. The challenge is to dramatize that and make the audience see what the fans have known and believed about the character all along."

It definately sounds as though these guys have done their homework or more possibly fans of the almighty Thor. CineFools asked Miller the routine question if she was a fan of the Thor comics. His reply, "Would you like me to pull my Simonson run out of its bags and boards? Zack had to take me down with an elephant tranq to stop me from throwing in a scene between Thor and a frog." Miller also elaborated on just how they aquired the job of writing Thor, "We were in the right place at the right time. Marvel needed a writer (or team, in our case) with a very particular set of skills and experience. Obviously they wanted to work with people who'd done features before, which we had. They were also very interested in people who know how to collaborate, and could turn drafts around efficiently, which we do. That we have a background in genre material and an interest in comic books were big plusses, I think. Owning a complete Walt Simonson run on Thor and being able to wax rhapsodic about Beta Ray Bill didn't hurt our case."

Establishing that Miller and Stentz were fans prior to landing the task of penning "Thor" Miller was asked what storylines if any did he draw from. "So many things. Certainly, Walt Simonson's take on the character greatly informs what we brought to the script although I wouldn't say we went to a specific story from his tenure on the book," Miller answered. He continued, "We saw part of our job as taking all the many approaches to the character over the years (including the myths) and distilling them down into a form that worked for a two-hour movie. There's a tremendous amount of ground to cover, so inspiration has to come from everywhere."

Next up CineFools asked Ashley Miller what he wanted to bring to the character of Thor. I think you'll like his answer. He said, "Grit. Not in the sense that you'd want to see a generic "dark" take on Thor, but in the sense that you want to feel Thor's rage when he rages. You want to see him fight like hell, and take as much he dishes out -- maybe more." Thor's battles have always been epic in Marvel comics, I mean we are talking about the god of lightning! Seeing those huge battles on screen in vivid detail will be on helluva an experience! Miller continued, "You want to have a visceral reaction to the guy, and what happens to him. You don't want his adventures to be clean and antiseptic. You want to see the dirt, and grime and blood. You want to feel every bone crunching moment of every fight. And when he unleashes the storm, you want to feel like you're seeing the power of a GOD at work." Yes, I love what I am hearing. Miller gives an example that is absolutely perfect and one of my favorite more recent moments of Thor. He explains, "The best example I can give you is the end of Ultimates 2. When Thor shows up and kicks ass, he shows up and kicks ass. He isn't screwing around. There's a certain brutal, cock-eyed realism to Thor in that moment (and through that book in general) that I really resonate to and want to expand on." If you have never read Mark Millar's The Ultimates 1 or 2, get on it, great books!

Another question I am sure bubbling up in your brain is how much of Asgard will we see in "Thor"? Miller gives a tight-lipped answer, "Marvel's official description gives you a pretty good idea of what the divide looks like." If you don't remember the official synopsis it reads as follows: This epic adventure spans the Marvel Universe; from present day Earth to the realm of Asgard. At the center of the story is The Mighty Thor, a powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions reignite an ancient war. Thor is cast down to Earth and forced to live among humans as punishment. Once here, Thor learns what it takes to be a true hero when the most dangerous villain of his world sends the darkest forces of Asgard to invade Earth. So it definately sounds as though the majority of the film will be in fact set in the real world, no doubt we would most likely get a origin of Thor, Loki and daddy dearest Odin leading up to Thor's banishment, but who knows how that will be handled.

Miller was also asked if we will see more connections in the Marvel universe in "Thor". He said, "We were constantly looking for ways to connect Thor to the other movies and heroes, even if they were simply in passing...How many of those references and connections make it to the final product are beyond our control, but they are everywhere." Miller also spoke about the enjoyment of working with Marvel. "You never have to defend the character to the people who own him. You never have to explain to them why Thor is cool, or what he can do. They are as likely as you are to come up with some awesome bit of obscure continuity and pitch it as a story or character element. It's a very writer friendly place."

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What say you? Does Ashley Miller sound like he has done some good work with Thor? Is Thor something your expecting to be good or bad? Strikeback...