Actor/Director Kenneth Branagh Helming Marvel's Thor!

September 29, 2008

Kenneth Branagh

In a rather surprising announcement early today, Marvel has confirmed that they're in negotiations with Kenneth Branagh to direct the upcoming Thor film for 2010. For the longest time, Matthew Vaughn was attached to direct the adaptation, but his contract ended and Marvel went on a hunt for someone else. It seems Branagh was the right guy for the job even though he's only direct various arthouse (and Shakespearean) films like Henry V, Dead Again, Hamlet, and Sleuth. Marvel hasn't announced who will be distributing the film, however they will be funding this project entirely on their own. In my opinion, Branagh seems like the worst choice to direct a comic book movie since Joel Schumacher.

This Thor adaptation follows disabled medical student Donald Blake, who has an alter ego as the hammer-wielding Norse god Thor, meaning this will definitely be set in modern times and play an integral part in the lead up to The Avengers in 2011. The script was penned by up-and-coming writer Mark Protosevich, of The Cell, Poseidon, and I Am Legend. My problem with Branagh lies in his complete lack of directing competence. It's not that he hasn't ever done action (which is a seperate problem), but almost all of his other films have been quite lackluster. I saw Sleuth last year, which was adapted from a stage play, and it was terrible; a dry and utterly boring adaptation that was worse than the stage version.

I heard a rumor that Branagh might be in the running for the role of Thor as well, but that definitely isn't confirmed. Either way, this is the first time that I feel like Marvel has taken a giant misstep. Unless they've somehow been convinced that Branagh can really pull off the perfect Thor movie, I'm officially concerned. Until I'm convinced otherwise, I'll admit that I've lost all hope for this adaptation. Thoughts?

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"In my opinion, Branagh seems like the worst choice to direct a comic book movie since Joel Schumacher." And the tubby guy who was in 'Swingers' seemed like a great choice for 'Iron Man'?

John Madden on Sep 29, 2008



Jo Mahoney on Sep 29, 2008


Well, it's a out of the left field choice that's for sure, Favreu had at least made a special effects heavy movie with Zathura. Regarding the story itself, is this based on the ultimates? I don't really know the origin of Thor in the Ultimates universe.

Darunia on Sep 29, 2008


The Variety article on this news states: "Marvel will self-finance the film via its $500 million credit facility through Merrill Lynch" So, if the USA's billion $ bale out happens, your taxes will actually have financed a couple of Marvel movies 😛

chrisUK on Sep 29, 2008


This movie already thinks way too highly of itself.

Voice Of Reason on Sep 29, 2008


Thor is a ridiculous comic book, and Branagh's films are ridiculously overdirected, so this might actually work.

Mario Tenorio on Sep 29, 2008


I havent seen any of this dudes films, i am kind of likeing the idea that you have someone from a totally opposite end to direct this. I guess you like seeing the same directors making the same films, with the same film style for every movie. Its like Dinero and Pacino, these guys are the same in every movie they play. Yeah they can act but damn, Even when dinero is crying he cries tuff. And thats horrible, there was once a time when Spielberg directed a good movie and there was once a time when all you fools like the batman and robin movies that i hated. So give the dude a chance and if he sucks, than you can put it on the wall next to that sorry ass punisher movie, both of them.

THERBLIG on Sep 29, 2008


You're really fucking crazy!!! Kenneth Branagh is a wonderful Director and actor. But where the hell has he been hiding!!! And i agree with this: And the tubby guy who was in 'Swingers' seemed like a great choice for 'Iron Man'? John Madden on Sep 29, 2008

REAL6 on Sep 29, 2008


With all the respect that you deserve, I think you should reserve your thoughts for yourself, and give a more objective view in articles, specially because the comments you get. I'm a Marvel fan, and I really think that Keneth could work in the director chair for Thor. As you said, he's done arthouse and Shakespearean films, but Thor is something like that, like a Shakespearean superhero which you don't wanna mess with. Favreau didn't have a lot of films as a Director, and didn't IronMan rock all of us? So, best wishes for the next Marvel films.

Spideyfan84 on Sep 29, 2008


If the first Hulk movie taught us anything, it's that arty directors and Marvel superhero films don't really mix... This could end up being the next Ang Lee's Hulk.

chrisUK on Sep 29, 2008


Dude...Ang Lee's Hulk is an EXCELLENT is just not a 'comic book' movie. I would argue Ang Lee's Hulk is the line between those who read comic books and those who read graphic novels. One is meant to be mass consumed and one is meant to be slowly digested. Branagh is a great director. I do question whether this will be 'pop' enough for Marvel, I can almost guarantee you if he directs it, it won't be mainstream. But those who go out of their way and bash the idea, implying it will be a bad movie? Are being short sighted. Just because something is an 'artsy' movie, or just not pop doesn't mean it will be bad. People need to stop bitching about Hollywood being unoriginal and then bashing unique director choices. Either shut up about the lousy unoriginal status quo, or accept the fact that the only way to break the cycle is to allow unusual director choices and casting choices. Everyone wants to be guaranteed success, they want an original vision that won't suck. Most of the time I\it isn't going to happen.

Kyle A. Koyote on Sep 29, 2008


Branagh is clearly an odd choice, if not inspired. But then again so was Favreau for "Iron Man". So strange that you, Alex, think that for the first time Marvel has made a giant misstep. I see that Marvel has made many all the while. I saw that getting Mark Steven Johnson a second time for "Ghost Rider" was a huge error, especially after a mediocre "Daredevil". As for Ang Lee (gulp), his "Hulk" was ok. Clearly not a flick for the fanboys, but hey, Marvel made up for it with Leterrier's "The Incredible Hulk". The execution of "Spider-Man 3" would have clearly ruined the franchise, although tarnished, if not for the beloved Spider-Man character. Heck, even the so called 'hack' Brett Ratner scored a hit with "X-Men 3" Ultimately, there is a clear reason why Branagh was chosen. Someone saw something in his abilities that we are clearly not seeing nor allowing our judgmental selves to see. Mathew Vaughn's involvement with "X-3" and "Thor" and subsequent bailout signifies something that only time will reveal. Things always happen for a reason. I say let's wait and see what Branagh does with "Thor"--just like we waited for Favreau's "Iron Man".

Spider on Sep 29, 2008


I'm surprisingly OK with this pic, as long as he's only directing (not co-writing or acting). The problem with most Branagh films is that he fancies himself a writer, which he most definitely is not. And acting? Take it or leave it. He's good in some, not so much in others. However, for any one who wants to check out his "street cred", I suggest Much Ado About Nothing. Ignore the bad acting (it's got pre-Matrix Keanu in it after all) and heavy Shakespearian dialog and just focus on the actual film itself. Branagh does a great job collaborating with the cinematographer, set and costumer designers, and lighting director to create a beautiful visual style throughout the entire film. I'm thinking that the Thor movie is probably going to have equal elements of modern day America and the Nordic/Renaissance style Asgard (depending on the look they go for). I think Branagh could pull it off as long as he surrounds himself with people that aren't afraid to tell him when he's making a bad move (but that goes for most directors).

Peter on Sep 29, 2008


Kenneth Branagh is a great choice to direct Thor. It's refreshing to not see Matthew Vaughn, or Brett Ratner, or even Bryan Singer's names attached. Before I even finished reading your article, I was imagining him taking on the role of Thor. It was cool to see you mention he is up for the role himself. Let's face it. Thor is not going to be an easy sell to a general audience. A level of realism, and sophistication will be needed. I think he can bring that. If you're not familiar with him check out Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994). He directed it, as well as starred in it. Another good acting role was The Gingerbread Man (1998), based on a John Grisham novel.

TCox on Sep 29, 2008


Definitelyy an interesting choice - more surprised about it than anything. But to those who think it will be a very arty film in the vein of Ang Lee's Hulk I very much doubt it. It may have a more cerebral edge but considering Marvel Studios (the actual studio not the licensed movie partners) has thus far been very canny in picking directors who made VERY populist and mainstream friendly Marvel adaptations then I think this will follow. I mean I loved Iron Man and liked Incredible Hulk but they were both designed to be very mainstream and entertaining and this will surely follow in the same footsteps - good luck to them though a Thor movie will be a tough sell regardless of who's making it!

Sumit on Sep 29, 2008


Uh oh. Although I like Branagh very much as an AkTor. As I direkTor, I haven't quite forgiven him for the utterly hideous shy-it that was Frankenstein. This does concern me. Dr. D

Dr. Duvel on Sep 29, 2008


I respect everyone's opinion here, but I have to dissagree with you Dr. D. His take on Frankenstein was, in my opinion, brilliant. The depth of the characters stood out for me, and the way he handled the De Niro's "creature" was a breath of fresh air. Gone was the big, flat head, and ridiculous bolts in the neck. This monster was truly alive, and dealing with a tremendous amount of emotion, and trauma. It's a very gut-wrenching story. Sure, it may now fit in with today's MTV style horror flick's that don't require a lot of grey matter to comprehend, but it's a fantastic take on a classic character. Alex, you should really think more about this, before you dismiss it so quickly. I was not the least bit interested in a "Thor" movie until now. This could possibly bring a new audience to a movie they wouldn't normally see.

TCox on Sep 29, 2008


I really don't think that Marvel is going to mess this up. Like most of you said up top, they must have seen something in Branagh to have him direct Thor. I will wait for more info and maybe even some pictures or posters as they get closer into developing the movie. I love Marvel, always have and always will. I have faith.

Big R on Sep 29, 2008


give it a chance hes a good actor and director.. i loved his version of hamlet and othelo

sam on Sep 29, 2008


His version of Hamlet was amazing for sure, but come on, Hamlet is not THOR!!! However, with Marvel going two for the last two on their films (Hulk and Iron Man) and their plans for the new Avengers movie, they must have the upmost confidence in him. They wouldn't ruin the hype for what plans to be one of the biggest movies of all time!

Andy Adair on Sep 29, 2008


Im am going to go out on a limb here and say this. I have never looked at an actual Thor comic, but i have been interested in this "project" since The Avengers was announced and have been lookin up stuff about Thor in general. I'm not to crazy about it... Im not bashing it...but im just not excited about it like i was Iron Man. I holding out because i'd love this movie to surprise me and be really kick ass and awesome, and maybe Branagh would do fine..but im gonna agree and say this is kinda like if Michael Bay directed the next Nicholas Sparks adaptation.

Spencer on Sep 29, 2008


I usually don't respond to people's opinions of things online, because they're just that: opinions. However, in this case, given the statement regarding Branagh's directing abilities being "lackluster" (once I picked my jaw up off of the floor at the myopic dopery required to THINK something like that, much less commit the synaptic resources to type and post it), even though others have already given their takes on it, I felt like I had to say something. Granted, my opinions, like everyone else's here, amount to the proverbial hill of beans yadda-yadda-yadda, but you actually SEEN Branagh's "Henry V," "Much Ado About Nothing," or "Hamlet"? This guy not only understands how to make operatic dialogue palatable and compelling (clearly a must when even trying to handle Thor), but he has a sense of scale and scope that are absolutely spot-on for this kind of thing. At the very least, let us know if you've personally seen the films you've listed off from the guy's resume, so that we know whether or not you're basing your opinion on something you can support from more than one film. I love this site, and I usually appreciate the sense of balance you guys bring to the articles, but this piece, as you stated yourself "is the first time that I feel like [] has taken a giant misstep." I, too, am "officially concerned."

Scotty B. on Sep 29, 2008


I'm with No.11. Kyle A makes a good point. I actually liked ang lee's hulk better than the new one as well. Just making a point.

Darrin on Sep 29, 2008


I would direct you to Branagh's Henry V if you are having doubts. I think he will do a GREAT job.

Kevin on Sep 29, 2008


Alex. So you saw "Sleuth". Wow, you get points for that one. Have you ever seen, "Henry V"? That has some awesomely rousing action sequences and a great pace that contemporizes Shakespeare's play into an awesome war film. Really fantastic. And then "Hamlet", again, great, incredibly tense, and delicate. Wasn't he nominated for best director for both of these films? I may be mistaken. Kenneth Bragnagh is an internationally acclaimed director, and even for myself, who is thoroughly steeped in the mainstream, respect immensely the talent of this director to bring the exacting interpretations of Shakespeare to the screen in a way I believe the original author would have been pleased with. Anyways, this is all nonsense. Your taste and opinions have been brought into question, so I want to know if you've seen "Henry V" or "Hamlet".

Lincoln on Sep 29, 2008


I think this a good unconventional choice. He's proven to be a very good director, not to mention actor. I'm just really looking forward to see who they cast as Thor. My choices: Dominic Purcell (Prison Break) - Thor Joaquin Phoenix - Loki

Daas on Sep 29, 2008


i hope they don't shoot this film like iron man or incredible hulk. The problem with those 2 films was that they were alright but not enough action and it was too predictable. Make it feel like an original superhero flick.

Drake on Sep 29, 2008


Please. Weirder decisions have been made before. People have already pointed out Jon Favreau, whose largest budgeted film beforehand was "Zathura". But what about Tim Burton with the first two Batman movies? Beforehand, his claims to fame were "Beetlejuice" and "Pee Wee's Big Adventure". Or Richard Donner with "Superman", whose biggest film at the time was "The Omen"? Branagh may not be that bad. As long as Marvel Studios keeps him in check like what they did with "Iron Man" and "The Incredible Hulk", then it shouldn't be too over-the-top. Don't jump to conclusions.

Chris C. on Sep 30, 2008


Great points, both Pro and Con. Can Branagh work with Marvel and verse-visa? T-cox, Chris, Lincoln....Bravo! Very well said. This could be HUGE and a brilliant choice. But I do not see a part Kenny would play, so direction is his forte' in this project. Man this is BIG!

D-9 on Sep 30, 2008


I'm sorry, but "Dead Again" was not an Art House film. It was a Thriller with commercial release. (It was also damn good.)

Shawn Levasseur on Sep 30, 2008


nothing at all against Kenneth Brannagh but one need not be a rocket scientist to figure out that this movie is going to flat out suck. I would bet that it doesnt even make enought to cover advertising costs. I t should st5ay on the shelf or be made as an animation for the pre-teen crowd. JMO

moldybread on Sep 30, 2008


Let's put the Anti-Bragnagh behind us and accept that he is signed to do this film. He is a tried and tested director who has made some truly massively epic films that have had huge critical and commercial success. Hamlet was actually the last film to be shot completely in 70 mm, which means we can bet on seeing Thor in 70mm or IMAX. The guy loves a big picture. The whole film now really hinges on casting. I'm really hoping they give it to the right guy. Fingers crossed it isn't Brad Pitt. Anybody have ideas?

Lincoln on Sep 30, 2008


I've addressed some of my concerns and updated my thoughts on Branagh in the article I ran tonight: Otherwise... Let's put it this way, I'll give him a chance, but Andy #20 really said it - he's not the right director for Thor.

Alex Billington on Oct 1, 2008


The pox on thee, Billington, for uttering doubts on Master Brannagh! Ok, sorry, I couldn't resist. Anyway, I read somewhere that this could be more focused on Asgard, where Odin finally decides to show his son some humility and throws him to Midgard (Earth) and hence pair with Donald Blake. Are you kidding me? This has Shakespeare inked around it like a Rorscharch blot! I won't say he's PERFECT for this --I would have gone more Bryan Singer on this one-- but I will say he's capable of it. I think he goes more for the grandiose than the simple --I personally am pretty intrigued.

Juan Carlo on Oct 1, 2008


As a life-long fan of Marvel and Thor being my favorite, I've got to weigh in on this one to say, 'You go Marvel!' Branagh is an excellent choice and for all of you Thor haters — Just hold your water. I'm betting that Marvel and Branagh will open your eyes to the glorious wonders of the Real Eternal. Why should Thor be such a hard sell when fantasy epics like the Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia etc are all the rage? The public is ready their first trip to Asgard. You just watch. Getting Brangh was a step in the right direction but I agree with those who say that the casting of Thor will be the next crucial step. Personally, I'm glad that it looks like Brad Pitt (He's cool but not right for the part) or Daniel Craig did not sign on. I'm really hoping that they can find an unknown for the part with the physical stature and acting ability to pull if off. It won't be easy but you've got to believe there is some 6'5 or above, blonde, thunder god out there who can act. I've heard that the script is awesome and that's encouraging. I just really wish they drop the whole Donald Blake angle like they did in the Ultimates and just let Thor be Thor. Does every super hero have to have an alter ego? Anyway, since Marvel has taken over their own production, they've managed to avoid all the things that flawed their previously-released properties. The lead up to the Avengers is key to expanding the magic of the Marvel Universe beyond comic books and into the mainstream. I'm really excited to see them doing it the way they are. In Stan we trust!

Goldilocks on Oct 25, 2008


"The script was penned by up-and-coming writer Mark Protosevich, of The Cell, Poseidon, and I Am Legend" Anybody else think that the scripts for The Cell and I Am Legend were kind of crappy? I enjoyed I Am Legend for Will Smith and the zombie attack stuff but...! Thats really put a downer on my expectation of Thor...

Ken on Jan 2, 2009


THOR??????? Try TRIPLE H!!!!!!!

barbie on Apr 2, 2009


PLEASE make it more like Batman the Dark Night and less like Batman Forever!

Bob13 on Jun 28, 2009

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