Thor Director Kenneth Branagh Responds To How The Franchise Has Changed Throughout The MCU

Thor in the original movie

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe has become a well-oiled machine, with a decade of filmmaking under the studios' belt. But Phase One of the MCU had humble roots, with directors tasked with introducing a slew of heroes before they would eventually crossover in The Avengers. This includes 2011 original Thor movie, which was directed by Kenneth Branagh. The franchise and character took a serious pivot with Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok, and now Branagh has spoken about the franchise's growth through time.

Thor was very much a fish out of water story, where the God of Thunder is expelled from Asgard and comes to Earth for the first time. Kenneth Branagh had a ton of world-building to do in the first Thor movie, in particular the family issues shared between the title character, Loki, and Odin. But the character has taken a more zany and hilarious turn recently, which will continue when Taika Waititi returns to the franchise with Thor: Love and Thunder. Branagh recently responded to the ever-changing world of the character, saying:

In a way, I think we put in some emotional ballast at the front of the story that means he could bounce around and develop in the way that he has and rather like all of the extraordinary ways that the Thor comics do. There's an amazing diversity of story and character development inside 50-odd years of comics. The films are now doing it with the character.

Well, that was honest. It looks like Kenneth Branagh understands how often comic book characters can be changed on the page, and sees that the same concept applies to the Thor film franchise. But the work that Branagh and company did on the original film would ultimately shape the characters and emotions from the sequels that would follow.

While Thor's comedy wasn't quite as bonkers as the humor in Ragnarok, Kenneth Branagh's work as director helped to set the stage for the God of Thunder's future. And there were still moments for Chris Hemsworth to flex the comedic muscles that would eventually be shown off in projects like Ghostbusters and Thor: Ragnarok. What's more, the character's emotional and family base was set up, which would also be explored in future installments in the MCU.

Later in his conversation with Comic Book, Kenneth Branagh went on to explain what he was trying to accomplish with the first Thor movie. And how that base work eventually allowed for Chris Hemsworth's signature character to reach new heights. As he put it,

For me, I thought it was really important that everything we set up there to do with his being banished, his rough diamond beginning, his difficult relationship with his father and his brother. All of those things always were going to have tremendous potential if we could just make people connect with it upfront with the authenticity of the character's feelings. I think they committed completely to it and so did the audience. Then, the world was their oyster in terms of where they might go to. In that sense, there's a parallel with the comics that if you build it, they will come, and somewhere at the center of it we got something right that allowed the characters to fly.

Marvel fans can re-watch the Thor franchise on Disney+. You can use this link for a free 7-day trial to the streaming service.

That's a great way of looking at things, particularly where major franchises are concerned. While James Gunn is helming all three Guardians of the Galaxy movies, this is a rarity for the MCU. Directors change all the time, allowing a new vision to take hold of popular franchises like Iron Man and Doctor Strange. Marvel sequels are ultimately built on the original movies, which introduced each superhero to the shared universe.

Well just have to wait and see what happens next for Thor in the MCU. Chris Hemsworth's character is making history as the first character to get a fourth solo movie, with Thor: Love and Thunder marking the return of Natalie Portman's Jane Foster as well as an appearance by the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Thor: Love and Thunder is currently expected to hit theaters on February 11th. 2022. In the meantime, check out our 2020 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.