‘Thor: Love and Thunder’: Creating the Final Battle and Giving Kids the Power of Thor
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There are three things in abundance in Marvel Studios’ Thor: Love and Thunder. Love and Thunder (obviously, duh), and also small children. The movie is full of them considering that Gorr kidnaps them from their home in New Asgard in hopes to lure Thor to the Gates of Eternity with Stormbreaker. There are kids here, there are kids there, there are kids everywhere.
“We wanted to have kids in this film from very early on,” Director and writer Taika Waititi recalls. Wanting to move away from typical bad guy tropes, he and the rest of the creative team spent time “trying to figure out what does the villain want and why do we care about villains anymore? What's a new way of doing a villain? The idea that he takes the kids came about when thinking like, what's a thing that we really want audiences to worry? Because no one cares anymore about someone who's going to blow up the universe, you know?” Been there, done that.
“We want these kids to be in peril and Thor has to save the kids. I think it felt like just a classic '80s movie,” he continues.
Also, these just aren’t any kids off the street — the film includes Chris Hemsworth’s three children, Natalie Portman’s son and daughter, Christian Bale’s kids, and even one of Waititi’s daughters. But making it a full-on family affair wasn’t always in the cards.
“It was not always the plan,” Waititi adds. “The idea started really when Chris was talking about [his daughter] India. And he was like, ‘Oh, you know, it would kind of be quite cool for me to be in a scene with my daughter.’ I started looking around like, oh, everyone has kids. All of these actors have kids.”
Tessa Thompson, who takes over duties of training the next generation of warriors in the movie, loved having so many kids around because it reminded her how silly it can sometimes be filming a movie.
“Most of the time, when you're doing the fight scenes, you're fighting nobody, [because of the CGI],” she explains. “You're just walking around, just fighting the air, which it just feels like you're a kid, essentially. To invite kids into this experience really reminds you of not just who these movies are made for, in some ways, but also how to make these movies, because kids naturally know how to play…These movies require a childlike nature in terms of performance. There's so much of the imagination. It's basically like playing as a kid. You're running around.”
And though he might be terrifying in the movie, none of the kids were actually scared of Christian Bale — because, according to him, the kids looked at the Academy Award-winning actor and thought, “he’s just some old fart. I don't know that they've got any clue about anything I've ever done, I was just the weirdo with the strange makeup.”
Bale tried to stay in character between scenes, and according to him, the kids loved it. They loved the scary-looking Gorr so much, that many takes ended up giving everyone the giggles. “I loved those scenes. We don't see it that much in the film, but I always had bile in my mouth, which I would still dribble in front of them. They were always asking me to do that, going ‘Smile,’ going, ‘Dribble,’ going ‘ahhhhh!’ They loved it, and everyone wanted to take turns with the sword. It was really wonderful, and the kids were great and bloody good little actors and all these fantastic outfits.”
Not only were the kids acting in the movie, but they also contributed to the making of it behind the scenes. You know those scary shadow monsters that Gorr summons? Those are all designed by the kids. According to Waititi, that came about in a natural way as his daughter just happened to ask one day what the monsters looked like.
“My daughter was watching me write the script one day and she looked over my shoulder and says, ‘What's a shadow demon?’ I was like, ‘I don't know.’ And she goes, ‘What does it look like?’ So she went and drew one,” he recalls. “I thought I wonder if that would be a cool monster. And I gave it to the Visual Development department, and they turned it into a fully rendered monster. Then I just started asking everyone else around the office. I was like, get your kids to draw some monsters. And then we just had a collection of monsters. So all of those monsters that Gorr summons, the reason they look so crazy is because they're all designed by children.”
“We actually know which monsters are my kids' monsters,” Bale explains. “[Taika] had them draw a lot of sketches, and then the magic of the VFX guys, they created something monstrous out of that. And, and absolutely, those are identifiable, and that's very exciting to see.”
Kids in the movie, kids helping create the movie, and as Bale adds, “Taika was wonderful with that. He made a really family-friendly environment, and everyone was around about, and making friends, and playing soccer and whatnot, and hanging out.”
So sure, they might be making a big, sweeping space adventure, but at the end of the day, Waititi is thankful he got to spend more time with his children while doing it. “It's amazing. I really love the idea that my kids can look back on this moment and be like, oh wow, we were there. There's a record of it.”
Adventure awaits, Thor: Love and Thunder is now playing exclusively in theaters.
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