Stranger Things debuted its blockbuster third season over a year ago, and fans are still left with big questions about the aftermath of the climactic fight to shut the gate. Hopper of course succeeded in holding off the Soviet thugs long enough for Joyce to close the gate, the result of which was the day being saved but Hopper disappearing. It was the culmination of a season's worth of attempts to get rid of the monsters, so it had to be epic, and Stranger Things second unit director and stunt coordinator Hiro Koda has explained how it really came together.
Hiro Koda spoke with CinemaBlend's Nick Venable about his work on Stranger Things and the big fight between David Harbour's Hopper and Andrey Ivchenko's Grigori over the key machine located in Hawkins. Koda said:
Not only was the set housing the key machine and the control room massive and elaborate, but the Stranger Things team had to figure out how to schedule the necessary elements to pull off what was arguably the climax of the whole third season. There was action, there was emotion, and there was (or so it seemed at the time) the possible death of Hopper. It was a sequence that Hiro Koda and the Stranger Things team clearly had to work hard to finish.
The fight itself was intense, and Grigori had to be enough of an opponent to Hopper that it made sense that Hopper wouldn't be able to get to safety before Joyce had to shut the gate and seemingly kill him. The fight took too long for him to rejoin Joyce, and it took too much out of him to do much running or jumping to try and get there anyway. Of course, the machine going haywire after Hopper threw Grigori into it didn't exactly help his odds of making it back to safety!
Hopper held his own and Grigori lost, but at great cost to the good guys in Hawkins. After all, even if Hopper survived, all his friends and Eleven think he's dead! Hiro Koda elaborated on coordinating the action between David Harbour and Andrey Ivchenko that had to look so epic and intense, saying:
David Harbour had a key role in the full third season of Stranger Things and evidently couldn't spent the full four-and-a-half days filming the climactic fight sequence. Stranger Things did a good job of hiding whenever Harbour was replaced by his stunt double, and Harbour was in front of the camera for all the pivotal moments that required an emotional reaction. Kudos to Andrey Ivchenko, though, since Hiro Koda revealed that he spent four full days on the sequence!
Hiro Koda also shared that a lot of thought went into the fight, not just punches and kicks for the sake of punches and kicks. In fact, part of the fight was designed to delight fans of the Indiana Jones franchise courtesy of Matt and Ross Duffer, as promised before the season even premiered. Koda explained:
The homage to Raiders of the Lost Ark in the final fight between Hopper and Grigori wasn't quite as clear as the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade throwback with Steve and Robin in Season 3, but anybody who had seen Raiders a few times before Stranger Things' third season likely noticed some similarities between Hopper vs. Grigori in front of the open key machine and Indiana Jones vs. Nazi thug in front of a moving plane.
Like Indy vs. the Nazi, the fight went down in a very dangerous place with the female lead watching from afar, and more than a little of the choreography was reminiscent of Raiders of the Lost Ark, although it wasn't a blow-for-blow reenactment. Fittingly, the Stranger Things fight also ended with Grigori dying after being thrown into the active device, just like Indy's Nazi opponent died in the propeller of a plane. Of course, Indy survived to rescue Marion and chase the Ark, whereas Hopped seemed quite possibly dead until the post-credits sequence gave fans reason to hope.
Unfortunately, fans may be waiting a while before Season 4 makes its Netflix debut, but they can always rewatch the first three seasons available streaming now. For some additional options now and in the not-too-distant future, check out our summer 2020 premiere schedule! For more of what Hiro Koda has to say about the entertainment industry and stunt coordination, you can find the full Comic-Con@Home panel featuring Koda, called "The Art of Collaboration," streaming now!
Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.
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