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Although a pretty drastic change from the films that preceeded it, Thor: Ragnarok proved to be a perfect amalgamation of humor, colorful characters and cosmic adventure. This formula has propelled it to succeed at the box office beyond its opening weekend. One of the colorful characters who made the film such a delight was Jeff Goldblum's Grandmaster. The ruler of Sakaar proved a fun obstacle for the God of Thunder, and his taste for gladiator fights created an opening for a mini Planet Hulk storyline and the re-entry of the Hulk character back into the fold of MCU events. However, Jeff Goldblum almost didn't play the ostentatious character. Thor: Ragnarok screenwriter Eric Pearson recently explained what happened during the creation and casting of the character.
There are so many different ways you can go with that character. He could be a power-hungry monster. Or he's cool and vindictive. And they're like, 'We're going to Jeff Goldblum.' And I'm like, 'Got it.' And then at one point they came back and said it's not going to work out. I'm like, 'No! Who's going to do all this now?'
This certainly explains why the Grandmaster was so quintessentially Jeff Goldblum, as Pearson also notes the character was basically "fashioned" for him. The creative team no doubt would have had to make some changes to the character if Jeff Goldblum ultimately did not sign on. Otherwise, the team would have been essentially asking another actor to play Jeff Goldblum. I'm guessing this would have resulted in a dim impression and not the memorable portrayal we ended up with. Jeff Goldblum fit perfectly in the role and is a fun addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Marvel's decision to have Jeff Goldblum play the Grandmaster fits in with the overall shift in tone for the Thor character and franchise. As Eric Pearson told Yahoo, the team could have gone in multiple directions with the character before the Jeff Goldblum idea was tossed about and the character actually started to go into development. He could have been a "power-hungry monster" or even frightening or menacing, but once the Goldblum character got written, a new actor would probably have resulted in a lot of rewrites.There was really only room for one true villain in the film and that was Cate Blanchett's all-powerful goddess of death, Hela. A differently written Grandmaster might have taken away from the threat of Hela or not fit with the tone of the film, as well.
Hopefully we haven't seen the last of Jeff Goldblum's Grandmaster. He would be an interesting recurring foil in Marvel's ever-expanding cosmic universe. His family relations and possible larger role in the Marvel Universe give him a lot of ways to come back into the fold, too. Jeff Goldblum can next be heard in Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs hitting theaters on March 23, 2018. Then he can be seen finding a way as he returns to his iconic role as Ian Malcolm in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom on June 22, 2018.