Sunday, November 3, 2013

25 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Thor

With Thor: The Dark World in cinemas worldwide, you probably think you know Thor better than members of your own family at this point. It's his third movie in two years, and with Age Of Ultron to come plus an inevitable threequel in the offing, Asgard's mightiest warrior isn't going anywhere for a while. By far one of the most interesting characters in the Marvel roster, Thor certainly has the richest back-story of his Avenger chums, so join us as we explore the past, present and future of the God of Thunder and his pesky brother Loki.

1. The name's Thor... er, just Thor

Chris Hemsworth is perfect in the part of Thor, right? It could have been so different: actors originally pursued for the role included Brad Pitt, Kevin McKidd, Channing Tatum and even wrestler Triple H. Daniel Craig was allegedly offered the role in 2008 but turned it down due to Bond commitments, saying: "What am I, on some stupid fucking power trip? I can't imagine…blonde hair and a big hammer."

Tom Hiddleston auditioned for the role of Thor before he was awarded the role of his mischievous brother. One of his influences for the role of Loki was Cassius from William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, so he went on an intense diet to give himself a "lean and hungry" appearance. Hiddleston also trained in the Brazlian art of capoeira to get in shape (although there is a serious lack of breakdance fighting in the movie).

The first appearance of Thor in print. The first appearance of Thor in print.

Thor made his first ever appearance in issue #83 of comic-book Journey Into Mystery, published in August, 1962. Created by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby, Thor was so popular that eventually the whole comic was named after him. Lee came up with the character of a God after worrying that he'd never be able to top the power of the Hulk. Look carefully in 2011's Thor movie and you'll see a billboard baring the comic's name.

If you're willing to overlook some pretty cosmic logic leaps, then the line about Thor's hammer Mjolnir being forged inside a "dying star" is not entirely fanciful. When a large star dies in a supernova, its remains can collapse to form a neutron star, which can potentially condense mass the size of the Sun into matter the size of a city – this is known as 'neutronium'. Scientists reckon even a fistful of this material would weigh "billions of tonnes", which would explain why it really, really hurts when Thor wallops you.

Thor's human alter-ego Donald Blake. Thor's human alter-ego Donald Blake.

The original plan for Thor's movie adaptation was to use both the mythological character of Thor and his human alter-ego Donald Blake, a crippled American doctor. In the comics, Blake finds a walking stick in a cave in Norway and is transformed into the God of Thunder. The plot device was abandoned for the movie, but Thor is given the false identity 'Donald Blake' by Jane Foster in an early scene.

The first draft for Marvel's Thor was written in 2006 by Mark Protesevich, a fairly epic origin story described by the writer as the tale of "an Old Testament God who becomes a new Testament God." Such was its scale and reliance on special effects sequences, it was estimated to cost around $300m, so was subsequently scaled down. Scenes eventually cut included an origin story for Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, and battles with serpents, sirens that turn into evil trees and hell stags (whatever they are).

Tyler Mane as Sabertooth - the Thor that could have been. Tyler Mane as Sabertooth - the Thor that could have been.

Plans were in place for a Thor movie as early as 2000, albeit a made-for-TV special to be produced by US broadcast network UPN. Wrestler-turned-actor Tyler Mane was allegedly approached for the role of Thor but the project never came to fruition. Mane lobbied for the role when the movie came out of development hell some years later, but to no avail – although he did get to play Sabretooth in the first X-Men movie.

Thor-some cameo. Thor-some cameo.

We all spotted Stan Lee's cameo in Thor as the hapless driver who ruins a perfectly good truck trying to remove the hammer from its New Mexico crater – but did you spot Thor comic-book writer J Michael Straczynski's cameo in the same scene? He's the guy in the cap and beard who pulls fruitlessly on Mjolnir, much like how Straczynski's Thor run got started. "I've vanished into my own narrative!" he later said.

9. How do you like them apples?

Thor and his ilk aren't actually Gods, they're just incredibly powerful beings who consider themselves Godlike. To that end, they're not actually immortal. In the comics, Thor and his fellow Asgardians maintain their power and vigour by regularly eating the Golden Apples of Idunn, which also have the added benefit of keeping the doctor away. We're assuming modern day Thor has them baked into handy chewable power bars for convenience.

Chris Hemsworth had to endure a punishing workout routine when he won the role of Thor: six months of daily trips to the gym and a diet that consisted of eggs, chicken, brown rice, steak and yummy protein drinks. Hemsworth claims he literally had to consume his own body weight in protein. Still... phwoar, right ladies?

The awesome Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder. The awesome Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder.

Another comic-book detail that was left out of the movie was Thor's ride: a mighty cosmic chariot, pulled by two... er, goats. Named Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder, the mystical goats were a step beyond your common variety cud-chewer: they could be reborn if ever they were eaten. Presumably though, no one at Marvel much fancied writing Thor's epic entrance scene in which he's dragged into shot by two mangy old farmyard animals.


One of the earliest – and most curious – personnel decisions on Thor was the casting of Brian Blessed as Thor's father, Odin. Sadly we were denied seeing the erstwhile Prince Voltan bellowing his lines at Chris Hemsworth, damaging his eardrums beyond repair, because he was eventually replaced by Anthony Hopkins. No disrespect to Blessed, but the decision to choose between an Oscar-winning actor and the host of Challenge TV game show Unbeatable Banzuke must have been a no-brainer.

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