Like every other Marvel series, the Thor movies made an effort to establish an independent supporting cast -- but it's noteworthy that the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok breaks from that. While the blockbuster does see the return of characters played by Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, and Idris Elba among others, it cuts out all of principal human players: including Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), and Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard). It leaves one wondering if they ever made it into a draft of the script, but as screenwriter Eric Pearson recently told me,
No. No, they never did. This is such a different one, and Sakaar and the Hulk take up so much time. Sakaar is crazy enough on its own. If you brush by it... people probably already think it's verging on too crazy. So, if you were to just gloss over that, then I think that people would have been bothered or not enjoyed it as much. So, we only had so much real estate -- plus the introduction of Valkyrie, who I think really came together as a fantastic supporting character. Tessa was so great.
In the last few weeks I have had the pleasure of talking with the various stars and filmmakers behind the making of Thor: Ragnarok, and that included a great conversation over the phone with Eric Pearson. Hired as part of the project in January of 2016, a few months after the hiring of Taika Waititi, he was given the task of building a Thor script with many specific details in play, the biggest being the introduction of Hulk as a key side character. Doing this, especially with the action taking place far away from Earth, resulted in some of the key details of the series falling to the side, including Jane, Darcy, and Erik.
There are many notorious stories about superhero movies trying to cram way too many characters into one story, but that was not the case here. As Eric Pearson went on to tell me, there was recognition from Marvel Studios that certain things just wouldn't work and couldn't be included, so they didn't force their screenwriter to find some magical "in." Said Pearson,
It was a bit under a crunch deadline building this script, and there are certain things that they told me [to use in the script], but they were like, 'Don't feel like you've got to work in everybody. Just make it as good and tight as you can.'
If you're like me, you may walk out of Thor: Ragnarok noticing that the project couldn't find roles for Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgard, but you also totally understand why they aren't featured. Very little of the action takes place on Earth (basically only two sequences in the first act), and that creates certain complications in storytelling. Not only do you have to actively have Thor round up the trio, but there is also a lot of baggage that comes with carrying them to an alien planet and having them join him on his fight against Hela - which would really be the only way to shoehorn them into the story. You do kind of miss them for the sake of continuity and curiosity regarding what they've been up to since the events of Thor: The Dark World, but their exclusion is understandable.
As for the rest of the characters in the Thor-centric part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you'll be able to see them back in theaters when Thor: Ragnarok hits wide release on November 3rd. There's also plenty more from my interview with Eric Pearson in the coming days/weeks, so stay tuned for that here on CinemaBlend.
You can pre-order your tickets for opening weekend here.