Director Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok hit theaters a bit over one week ago, and fans around the world loved it. From the comedy to the action to the poignant scenes, the film is claimed by most to have done better than previous installments in the trilogy. In a recent interview with Yahoo! News, screenwriter Eric Pearson provides details undergoing the writing stage involving his earlier drafts of the film. This included staying up in his office at Disney Studios until two or three o’clock in the morning early last year.
Warning: If you have not yet seen the movie, watch it now then return to this post and continue reading!
The comic book version of the Asgardian goddess of death Hela is the daughter of Loki–the god of mischief–and has been an enemy of Thor–the god of thunder–time and time again. When Pearson was writing the climactic fight scene between Thor and Hela, he needed a reason for it to hold its climactic-ness. The idea came to him; he told Yahoo Entertainment:
“We had decided that she’s like this ghost of Asgard’s past that’s come back. She represents the kind of violent way that they won their kingdom that Odin’s been trying to cover up.”
Late one night, he encountered the film’s executive producer Brad Winderbaum. He recalled telling Winderbaum:
“I was like, ‘We’re getting to this moment, and it just doesn’t have the impact.’ I’m like, ‘With all this stuff, she should be Thor’s sister. And that should be the thing that [represents] what it is to rule Asgard, his family, what he’s been told, what he hasn’t been told.’ Brad told me, ‘Don’t tell anyone. Just write it into the script. If we pitch it, it’s so much more likely to get shot down. Just write it into the movie.'”
This reveal was originally going to be told to Thor by Asgardian warrior Valkyrie in Hulk’s suite in Sakaar but was eventually given to Thor and Loki’s father Odin. This was sent to Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige’s desk. Pearson said:
“Brad showed me Kevin’s note, and [the reveal] was circled with ‘WHOA!’ [spelled out next to it].
This revelation was given to Odin because the filmmakers needed to make use of the limited amount of screentime the character had. In addition, Thor and Valkyrie were supposed to have a romantic atmosphere surrounding them. Pearson took over as the writer from previous screenwriters Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost when this happened. He explained:
“We didn’t want to start from that place. It was like, Let’s give Valkyrie her own story that connects with Thor … and if it makes sense for them to get together, then great. You’ve got two really good-looking people who can fight and who’d probably be [good together] if the story went there, but it just didn’t [click]. It became more about the mutual respect and also dealing with her PTSD. She’s [a character] who’s drowning her sorrows in the bottle, and I just thought that was such a cool thing that you don’t often see in these movies: somebody dealing with extreme guilt and shame in a colorful, Taika Waititi[-directed] hilarious background.”
Although, regarding the female character’s sexuality, actress Tessa Thompson hinted Valkyrie is bisexual and told Rolling Stone that a scene featuring her female partner was cut from the film.
As for Hela, there were two additional scenes in Pearson’s early draft which did not make the final cut. He says:
“I always want the villain to be really … not-Disney. I want to give them moments where they’re really massacring or crushing people, and she has that great entrance [in Asgard] where she takes everybody out. [Originally it was extended, and the studio said], ‘This is a bit repetitive, and we don’t have the days to shoot it.’ There was [also] a scene where she thought they were hiding the sword in the armory, this big fortress. She goes up, and the destroyer armor comes out to take her out, and she just rips that thing apart too, just to call back the destroyer armor. And it just felt like an extra beat that we didn’t need. We needed to get Thor pushing back to Asgard as fast as possible.”
Pearson did, however, keep a moment in the script for the final cut. He said:
“When they told me Cate Blanchett [was cast], I was like, ‘Guys, don’t you want to see her give a speech? Don’t you want the best in the world to come in as cool as she is and just tell everyone what she’s going to do?’ They were like, ‘Yeah, you’re probably right.’ And so I got to write a speech for her. And then Taika, of course, comes in with the brilliant way to take the piss out of it at the end.”
Pearson had also written in a scene before the finale in which Bruce Banner “eating alien food and trying to be serious.” The character thought it was “spaghetti, but then he realizes [the food] he’s eating is alive on the end.” Pearson committed so much time writing what was called the “Noodle Worm Scene,” but this never made it to the theatrical cut of the film. Lastly, the writer needed to give the Grandmaster character some personality. This was when actor Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park, The Fly, Independence Day) was cast in the role, but then cast out, then cast back in. The writer said:
“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.’ 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?’”
What did you think of the film? Were there parts of the earlier drafts that you would have liked to have been in the movie? Let us know! For more Marvel Cinematic Universe related news and reviews, follow Geek Motivation on Twitter (@GEEKMOTIVATION) and Instagram (@geekmotivation).
Also, check out our spoiler review of the film, which includes Easter Eggs and references.
Written by: John Tangalin