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J. Michael Straczynski Happy With Kenneth Branagh for Thor

by
September 30, 2008
Source: MTV

Thor

Ever since we made the announcement about actor Kenneth Branagh being hired to direct Thor for Marvel, the internet has been abuzz either attacking my opinion or agreeing with my concern. To restate my feelings, I'm officially worried that the film isn't going to have that same finesse that Marvel's films from this year (Iron Man and Incredible Hulk) have had due in part to their directors. However, I'm of course open to persuasion or at least some convincing and MTV has provided just that. They were able to get in touch with well-known comic author J. Michael Straczynski and ask him about the decision. His answer: "Honestly, I can't imagine anyone better suited to this." Really? He can't think of anyone else?

Straczynski, known best as the creator of "Babylon 5" and screenwriter of Clint Eastwood's Changeling, has also been writing the most recent issues of Thor since 2007. So his opinion is considerably valid, especially because he's petty well-versed on the character, I'd say. "'Thor,' at his best, has always had a classical bent to the character in terms of his history, the way he speaks, and the often Shakespearean intrigues and dramas that surround him. That kind of dialogue and character needs the hand of someone who comes from a theatrical/classically trained background in order for it not to sound forced or artificial. Branagh is absolutely the perfect choice." A strong statement from a rather powerful comic writer.

I'll admit that I'm not too well versed in the Thor mythology, but I'm a Marvel fan and I'm looking forward to seeing how the three year lead up to The Avengers (in 2011) plays out. So if Thor is going to be included in the Avengers line-up, then I know I will be very interested in seeing how he's introduced. Thus, my concern over Branagh's involvement is valid, because he's not a likely choice and doesn't have any action experience. Straczynski's statement about Thor's Shakespearean ties makes a lot of sense, but I don't want to see a slow-moving, action-less Shakespearean movie with way too much dialogue, do you? I want to see a great action movie that will be the perfect introduction to the character, like Iron Man was.

I will remain optimistic in the hope that Branagh turns out to be much like Favreau, a fan at heart with the passion to create the perfect superhero film. However, until I'm convinced otherwise, I'm still worried that Thor may be Marvel's first big mistake, even if J. Michael Straczynski thinks he's the perfect choice.

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  • Blue Buttons
    "I'll admit that I'm not too well versed in the Thor mythology" Then who are you to talk?
  • israelidude
    Ok....sorry to be the rain on your parade...but I have to back up Straczynski on this one.... it seems that in all comic book movies that came out these past few years, excluding to some degree "Batman begins" and almost completely excluding "The Dark Knight", the action was always overshadowing the characters and their particular angle on life as they grasp it.....I am also excluding Ang Lee's "Hulk" since I believe it drank deeply out of the character driven pool, putting Banner's rage issues in the front, as well as his relationship with his father, which, not to sound too freuidian, are his main weakspot....I also liked the way Lee tried to give the technology that transformed Banner into the Hulk a more logical edge than the original story had. other than that, "X-men" was a complete flop to me, as were it's sequels, although X-men 2 was more character driven than the others. I think classical directors that have never touched the comic book genere are more likely to reveal a new angle on the stories we all know and love, if not uncover the angels lost throughout the years and various transformations the characters have gone under in order to fit them to newer, younger, more action oriented audiences.
  • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
    Blue Buttons - Who are you to read what I've got to say and care about it anyway? That's your decision, too... :)
  • SlashBeast
    The whole concept of a Thor movie is possibly one that's totally unadaptable or would require an immense amount of work to make it happen. I think they should take The Ultimates approach with this one and make it doubtful if he's really a Norse god or just a nutcase with weapons instead of outright declaring that he's a god.
  • michael
    Ang Lee's what?!?!? someone still remembers that movie?!?!?!? and actually likes it?!?!?!? We see our heroes on the big screen because we want to see them brought to life....not constantly be reminded that it is a comic based film. The story was horrible, the directing, horrible, the casting was horrible (aside from J Connelly and San Eilliot), etc etc. anyways...Thor should be interesting. Cant wait to see what they do!!!
  • Kyle A. Koyote
    It just seems to boil down to this..If you liked Ang Lee's Hulk your excited about this movie. If you didn't you think this is a horrible idea.
  • Madsen
    Yo Alex, this is THOR, GOD OF THUNDER, not dude who was irradiated or other dude with metal suit. What are you talking about? Do you want this movie about the Norse gods to be full of light-humour and quirks? No, it has to be shakespearean and more serious, like the tones of the series Rome or Gladiator. You argue that your concern is vald, I disagree. Youve not seen what he's capable of...by your logic you can be concerend about any and all projects/directors...well yes, anyone can...I don't get it?
  • Spider
    Alex! I share your sentiments to some degree. I'd also like to see Branagh deliver a pretty good, if not awesome flick! I'm sure rooting for him. Just like Favreau, I once had a couple of preconceptions, but knowing how sharp Favreau is, I figured he would not disappoint us and voila "Iron Man" kicked ass! Marvel saw the potential in Branagh and closely matched the source material with what may turn out to be the perfect director to bring "Thor" to the big screen. I'll stay tuned!
  • Kail
    Thor isnt like other characters, so they got a director who's not like other directors. I do believe I just disproved everyone.
  • THERBLIG
    I got an idea lets fill the movie with teen pop songs and make sure that every new scene gets a new song, like that crap Hellboy. Yeah they can go in that direction, Im sure you guys wont mind,Or in the same direction as this last punisher movie that felt like punishment just watching the trailer. I thought they made that in my basement. Dude if this guy can pull it off then cool, but then again ALEX WE CAN ALWAYS ASK SPEILBERG TO BRING SOME OF THE ALIEN TECHNOLGY TO THE PICTURE CAUSE WE ALL KNOW HE'S DIEING TO MAKE ANOTHER CLOSE ENCOUNTER MOVIE. Any how lets see how this plays out, if marvel doesnt like it im suure theyll pull him!
  • Ryan
    The crux is this. We've already heard that the script indicates that much of the plot takes place in Valhalla, which is good, because if it isn't, it's just 90+ minutes of Culture Shock humor with a viking standing in line at a Starbucks. If the world is mythology and classical plot structure, which many of Thor's plot-lines draw heavily from, then Kenneth is a good choice. And he had about as much action film experience as Jon Favreau, and when you compare Henry V to Zathura, I think Brannagh has a slight edge. Indeed, for the most part, recent comic book director hirings have been, in my mind, mostly inspired. They brought in the king of psychological introspection for the new Batman franchise, the King of "Swingers" (Okay, Favreau wrote it, but still) for the Platinum-covered Playboy, Louis LeTerrier for essentially a superhero chase film, and now Brannagh for the classical Marvel film. Granted, he can be obstinate in his interpretations of Shakespeare, but he knows the plot archetypes of the Thor comic genre inside and out, because 95% of them are in classical drama, take it from a a drama major. But I feel, if given a chance, he can deliver as fine a product as any recent comic-book film (Nolan excepted.)
  • Daas
    Alex, I think you're wrong here. Now Branagh isn't exactly a house hold name and he's not really known for making these types of movies, but couldn't we have said the same things about Favreau or Nolan when they were picked? Plus Branagh does have experience with old time period films, a la Shakespeare. I think this may turn out to be one of those unconventional yet very successful director picks when its all said and done. I SAY THEE, YAY!!!
  • D-9
    Told you Alex! This is going to be HUGE! Kenny is the MAN!
  • http://www.jmbell.org/blog JM Bell
    Go rent K.Branagh's Henry V. After that, you'll feel much better about this. He's incredibly talented and, really, I can't think of anyone better to handle something as obscure and nuanced as Thor.
  • Ryan McCarthy
    This might be a good chance to get the THOR character some clout or some MAJOR interest. We can go all day naming the best director... but we know that K. Branagh is a logical choice. His past work has always stepped up to the plate.. Would like to see a SWEET ASS LOKI BATTLE. It would give Jack Kirby's family some props and maybe another stan lee cameo LOL Just Bring it Hollywood.
  • Chris C.
    I'll say it before and I'll say it again. MANY superhero movie directors had little action experience before making their movies. Look at Tim Burton's filmography before "Batman". Or Richard Donner's filmography before "Superman: The Movie". Or Jon Favreau's filmography before "Iron Man". Or Louis Leterrier's experience in general before "The Incredible Hulk" (the only movie he finished as director was "The Transporter 2" beforehand). It's completely unfair to say the movie will suck when Branagh hasn't even signed on yet. Hell, Kenneth Branagh has more action experience than Matthew Vaughn.
  • http://movieguyreviews4u.blogspot.com Ryan
    Not familiar with Thor at all, reading all of your comments does make a convincing case for Branagh, hearing about the serious Shakesperan themes, it does sound like a good choice. However, I agree with Alex for the action concerns, but I wouldn't be shocked if the guys at Marvel will be over his shoulder at those parts.
  • Bucker
    a littleoff topic, but any word on Straczynski's World War Z?
  • PimpSlapStick
    I'm gonna give Branagh a chance, I'm a long time reader of the comics (Yeah Alex try reading the source material before spoutin' off at the mouth.) Thor does have that shakespearian thing going on, the father issues, the adversarial relationship with his brother Loki etc...plus in the comics he does speak in a "ye' thou verily..." fancy way and with the wrong director and dialogue in can be real hooky real fast. Personally I'd suggest Marvel go the Ultimates route with Thor, Mark Millar hit a balance with Thor that few have figured out. Thor has always sort of clashed thematically and visually within how the Marvel Universe works it's always been the more science/realistic based comic-verse between Marvel and DC. Millar basically set up Thor in a modern setting as a guy who the general public thinks is just a delusional meta-human (Probaly a mutant with a few screws loose..etc..) with a few people buying into him being an actual god so he collects followers and he tries to promote worship of himself and Odin, but in the most half-assed way usually saving whales and throwing a burning man style party. Basically he's one parts John Lennon, David Karesh, L. Ron Hubard with a good dash of Lemmy from Motorhead. In the story Thor claims he was a medical student who had an empithany (I.E. nervous breakdown) that he was "the son of god" in this case Odin the Norse God. So most people think he's just a self-important yet incredibly powerful metahuman/mutant and the government has him on record as a med student who had a nervous breakdown and was institutionalized, then spontaneously developed superpowers (which is why they think he is a mutant) broke out and now goes around claiming godhood.
  • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
    The comparisons that everyone is making to Favreau and Nolan aren't exactly as legit here. I agree that Favreau and Nolan didn't have that much action experience beforehand... However, Branagh's filmography is made up of all kinds of boring Shakespearean films or dramas. It's not that he hasn't done action, it's that he's done too much drama and I really don't think he'll be able to find the caveats in Thor to make it a truly enjoyable superhero movie. But then again I guess I'll wait to see what he can do...
  • Donny the Retard
    Hey is Paul Reiser going to be in this one too!?! That would be tits!!! Yeah!! "ODIN!!!!" Yeah baby yeah!!
  • Alec Baldwin
    Hey screw you Alex Billington!!!
  • Chris C.
    Not all superhero movies need to have quirky one-liners and sexual in-jokes, Alex. Sometimes, it should be okay for superhero movies to be over-the-top dramatic Shakespearean style. That's the beauty of comic books is the vast variety in writing styles. You can't judge them all on the same standards. When everyone tries to make them the same standard of all action films with crazy humor, then what do you get? "Fantastic Four" and "Batman and Robin", that's what.
  • http://www.feoamante.com Feo Amante
    The man who brought you, Kenneth Branagh! Star and director of many great Kenneth Branagh films! Introduces, Kenneth Branagh! In a Kenneth Branagh film! Directed by, Kenneth Branagh! Starring, Kenneth Branagh! In a movie written for Kenneth Branagh! By a writer who recommended, Kenneth Branagh! This summer, Kenneth Branagh plays a GOD! In the Kenneth Branagh production of THOR! "Hello. I'm Kenneth Branagh. And this - is my hairy chest! I've been sitting in my director's chair - all day, and boy am I thor!"
  • Michelle
    One name: ALEXANDER SKARSGARD!!!!
  • Glass
    This is a complete failure from conception. This "Poetic Superhero" concept just doesn't work in films. Both Ang Lee's Hulk and Singer’s Superman Returns tried to mix traditional heroics and crowd-pleasing action with an overtly poetic tone and neither resonated with audiences. It'll be even worse when they have to mesh Thor with The Avengers.
  • Gerry Conway
    As someone who also has a certain familiarity with Thor, having been the first regular writer on the series to follow Stan Lee, I agree with Joe Strazynski that Brannagh is an excellent choice, for the reasons he gives, and for another, which no one else seems to have remarked on: Brannagh is actually an excellent director of big action set pieces, as anyone who's seen either his "Henry V" or his "Hamlet" could tell you. The guy understands film making as well as any director working today. Of course he can always muck it up, but so could anyone.

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