The prologue was filmed in a blend of live-action and CGI, as the Asgardian/Dark Elf costumes were too constrictive in which to fight effectively and convincingly. There are only three characters played by human actors in the entire scene, Malekith, Kurse, and Bor. All other characters are CGI.
(At around one hour and five minutes) Thor accidentally destroys a statue of his grandfather Bor, and Loki wisecracks that he killed him. In the Marvel comics, Thor ended up killing his grandfather as part of a deception by Loki.
Loki (Tom Hiddleston) was originally not going to appear at all, and there was going to be a much greater focus on Malekith and the Dark Elves. Following his popularity in The Avengers (2012), the script was re-written to give him a big role.
The filmmakers chose Iceland as the setting for the dark world of Svartalfheim for its black volcanic landscapes. The name "Svartalfheim" literally means "Home of the Black Elves" in Old Norse (Icelandic).
(At around 26 minutes) The scene where Dr. Jane Foster slaps Thor had to be shot several times, because Natalie Portman kept "fake-slapping" Chris Hemsworth to avoid hurting him. After about thirty takes, she was slapping him for real. (At around 1 hour and 2 minutes) Later on, where Dr. Jane Foster first meets Loki and punches him, Portman actually did hit Tom Hiddleston. This time around, it only took her five takes to get to that point.
There were about thirty hammers made for Thor of various weights for different uses. The main hammer was made from aluminum, but it is replicated in different materials and weights, including a "soft" version for stunts. Of the thirty, five versions were used most often, including the "lit hammer" that emits light when lightning strikes.
The Asgardian waterfalls were based on the Dettifoss waterfall in Iceland, Europe's most powerful waterfall. An aerial camera crew flew to Iceland to film the Dettifoss waterfall from every angle to use as a base for developing the visual.
(At around seventeen minutes) It's evident that the English children have done more than tumble a cement truck, or make shoes and car keys vanish. When Jane (Natalie Portman), Darcy (Kat Dennings), and Ian (Jonathan Howard) first arrive, they pass through a "container-henge", stacked up by the youngsters using their gravitational anomaly, in the same way that Stonehenge was built during the previous Convergence.
Filming at the famous Stonehenge historical site proved to be a challenge. After finally getting permission from English Heritage, the filmmakers found out that there were lots of rules and regulations associated with filming there. They could only be in amongst the stones outside of the normal visiting hours. So shooting had to take place early in the morning before opening, which only gave the film crew about three hours before they had to pull back for wider shots, once the stones were opened to the public. Being a heritage site, no one was allowed to touch the stones, nor walk on any of them, so a lot of logistics had to be applied to the filming there.
DirectorAlan Taylor wanted Asgard in this movie to have a more natural look: "The first Thor was quite shiny and it was a very conscious, smart choice. I wanted to get more of a sense of the Viking quality, the texture and weight of history. They've been around for thousands of years." To achieve this, the crew filmed on the coast of Norway (particularly the Lofoten islands) for three days, capturing six hours of footage. Asgardian structures were then embedded over this footage.
This movie was shot under the title "Thursday Mourning." This was also the code name under which the movie was shipped to theaters. Thursday was named after the Anglo-Saxon name of Thor - Thunor (Thunor's Day - Thursday).
A track in this movie is called "Lokasenna". This is a Norse poem that describes an exchange of insults between Loki and the other gods. Aptly, this track is used when Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Odin (Sir Anthony Hopkins) meet at the beginning.
Christopher Eccleston didn't like playing Malekith, a role he admittedly accepted mainly for the money. Ecclestone especially disliked the long hours he had to spend in make-up to complete Malekith's look. He claimed that the process took seven to eight hours on the first days, and about six and a half hours afterwards, but that Marvel had lied to him by not informing him about these extreme make-up requirements beforehand.
At the end of September, Jaimie Alexander (Sif) was injured on the London movie set: "It was raining, it was dark outside, it was like five in the morning, and I went down a metal staircase and slipped and slipped a disc in my thoracic spine, and chipped eleven of my vertebrae. I knocked my left shoulder out of place, and tore my rhomboid on my right side. It took me out of filming for a month."
(At around 52 minutes) The diagrams seen on Dr. Erik Selvig's (Stellan Skarsgård's) board contain homages to elements in Marvel Comics: The number "616" is a designation given to a specific Marvel universe (the original one that started in the 1960s, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is designated 199999). Simonson's Theory of Relativity is an homage to Thor comic writer Walter Simonson. The Nexus of All Reality is a location in the Florida Everglades, where dimensions intersect, which is guarded by the hero Man-Thing. The Crossroads is an intersection for routes to different worlds. The Fault is a tear in the fabric of the universe attended to by the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Loki's trial had been seen in the "movie prequel comic" book, which served as a "bridge" between Thor (2011), The Avengers (2012), and this movie. The filmmakers liked it so much they incorporated it into this movie.
Director Alan Taylor was unhappy with how the movie turned out. Although he had received full creative freedom while the movie was shot, he stated that the studio had turned it into a different movie during post-production; a situation he "(hoped) never to repeat, and (doesn't) wish upon anybody else."
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje described Kurse as "an amalgamation of a bull and a lava-like creature." For his role as Kurse, he underwent a daily three hours of make-up, and forty-pound prosthetics: "I'm sure there will be a certain amount of CGI, but a good eighty percent was me in that suit."
According to Jake Morrison, the Asgardian skiffs in this movie work in a unique manner: "The idea is that the Asgardians came to the Viking people with ships like this, and their technologies that inspired the Vikings to begin building their longships. When you see one of these skiffs move through the water and then suddenly take flight it just keeps that whole curvy, Stan Lee-Walter Simonson world of Asgard alive."
An abandoned plotline was to have Dr. Jane Foster turned into a villain by the Aether and destroy Svartalfheim as a show of her power before going to Earth. It was dropped in favor of keeping the focus on Malekith, and not introducing a third villain before the finale.
Tom Hiddleston described Loki as a "firework" in this movie: "Well, where next? What's he going to do? What level of remorse does he have? If he does have any remorse or regret, why? Who does he feel guilty in front of, and who does he laugh in the face of? What's his motivation? If he stands to win, what does he stand to win? As a character, you have all of these new motivations, but as an actor, I am absolved from playing hero or villain, I'm just the live wire, and that was more fun than I can possibly tell you."
The stuntmen and extras playing the Dark Elves had to go through a training period where they practiced standing tall and proud, since the dark elves are envisioned to be a noble people. Prosthetics designer David White helped out, too, by designing the helmet so that the eye line was slightly pulled down, forcing the actors to tilt their heads slightly up and back, which gave them a very proud, strong feel.
(At around forty-eight minutes) Malekith's thunder burned face is an homage to the classic Walt Simonson design of the character, whose face was half-purple in the comics. The starburst on his chest armor was also a nod to the original comic design.
According to Jake Morrison, the healing table instruments were based on tuning forks: "The Asgardian holograms are to do with wavelengths. The tuning forks actually create a magnetic field, and inside the field, people can interact with, and it can emit strings like on a violin. The nanotech would then display essentially a representation of Jane's soul that looks like these fine strings of gold that move through her, and at the same time are interactive."
Jake Morrison redefined Thor's flight ability in this movie: "He's jumping to attack somebody, it should be more of a lift and land, rather than necessarily a straight-line drive. The thinking behind that is that he can control the weather, so the wind can keep him aloft to allow him to have that kind of profile."
According to the filmmakers, amongst the Marauders the Asgardians arrest and imprison are Korbinites. These are a race of aliens Thor encountered. One of them, Beta Ray Bill, became Thor's ally, and was deemed worthy to receive an Asgardian hammer of his own.
In late 2011, Patty Jenkins was officially announced as the director for this movie. In December 2011, she backed out of the project, due to "creative differences". Natalie Portman was publicly upset that talks between Marvel and Patty Jenkins broke down, some sources even claim she threatened to not take part in this movie with another director, but couldn't get out of her contract. Jenkins directed Wonder Woman (2017).
Director Alan Taylor has said that he's "very happy to not take responsibility" for the mid-credits scene, which featured The Collector, and was directed by James Gunn. He has since apologized for this, and to James Gunn.
Christopher Eccleston describes Malekith as a tragic villain: "What I thought about a great deal was revenge. One quote is: 'When you seek revenge, be sure to dig two graves.' I did a film called Revengers Tragedy (2002) where I played a guy called Vindici-from the word 'vindictive'-and he is the distillation of revenge. So, in a way, that was what I had to think of: how revenge can make you absolutely monomaniacal-though you're still trying to make it recognizably motive-led. It's just the personification of movie evil."
Visual effects supervisor Jake Morrison described the final battle as Time Toffee: "As you punch through from one realm to another it's almost like a slightly gelatinous membrane you have to pass through. It bends a little bit then rips and spits the person out."
The black hole grenade effects were based on depth charges. To capture this effect, the visual effects experts built a water tank, where they observed how depth charges operate, and their effects: "The depth charge was used for the initial blast, and it ended up adding the first part of the one-two punch, a depth charge for the expansion, and the crush as a pay-off."
In this movie, the substance the Dark Elves are after is called the Aether. Aether is the mythological personification of the sky in Greek mythology, and later in alchemy and medieval science, as the material that fills the region of the universe above the terrestrial sphere. A reason of the use of the word "aether" can be because of its connection to dark energy, to which the Dark Elves are connected, in this movie.
The filmmakers planned to use Thor's antagonist, the fire demon Surtur in this movie. They were going to feature Surtur's realm Muspelheim, and had scouted for fire dancers to cast as fire giants. The filmmakers eventually decided not to use Surtur, and instead featured a second look at Jotunheim from Thor (2011). A glimpse of a volcanic realm (Muspelheim) is visible during the Convergence. Surtur appeared in Thor: Ragnarök (2017).
Mads Mikkelsen was considered for the role of Malekith, but he dropped out due to scheduling conflicts with the concurrently filming Hannibal (2013). Mikkelsen appeared in Marvel's Doctor Strange (2016).
This is the first Marvel Studios movie to start with just the Marvel Studios logo. Aptly enough, starting with this movie, the logo has been given an update, as well as a fanfare, written by composer Brian Tyler.
(At around thirty-eight minutes) The visual effects experts were influenced by the transformation sequences in The Avengers (2012) (the Hulk) and An American Werewolf in London (1981) (David Kessler) in the sequence where Algrim changes into Kurse.
According to visual effects supervisor Jake Morrison, the Harrows, the spaceships used by the Dark Elves, are powered by black holes: "A black hole pulls in all directions. You stick a box around it, but if you poke a hole in one side of the box it would pull in that direction. So effectively, if you strap a craft around that, you have a propulsion drive, which is kind of an impulsion drive."
Producer Sir Kenneth Branagh turned down directing this movie, as he felt that the locked release date didn't give him enough pre-production time, that he decided to work on Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) instead.
Loki, in Norse Mythology, is the God of Mischief, Evil, and at one time, also the God of Firesides and Hearth. In this movie, he is the God of Mischief, and we see a hint of evil, perhaps edging towards the God of Evil side. "Loki" is additionally Old Norse for "Mischief" ( "Lokki" is Finnish for "seagull" and Latvian for "spring onion"). In Norse Mythology, Loki also had four children: Hel, the ruler of Hel, Sleipnir, an eight legged horse (we see him in Thor (2011)), Jormagund/Jormungandr, a giant sea serpent, and Fenrir, a giant wolf who will devour the sun at Ragnarök.
One action scene involved one hundred forty marauders, an assortment of weapons, some from the aliens in The Avengers (2012), a mix of Roman, medieval, and nearly every Earth culture. The idea is that the gang of space pirates would have taken possession of an assortment of many types of weapons from their adventures. They use axes, swords, spears, morning stars, whips, and guns.
To gain the muscle required for his role, Chris Hemsworth adopted a high-protein diet, and his intense workout regiment had to constantly be changed because of the filming schedule and filming locations.
In the comics, Dr. Jane Foster took over the Mjölnir and assumed the mantle of Thor, replacing the original character in his monthly comic book title. In July 2019, Marvel Studios announced at Comic-Con that she would become the female Thor in the fourth film, Thor: Love and Thunder, again played by Natalie Portman.
Odin's throne room set was built on stage H at Shepperton Studios, the same stage where the ceremony scene was shot for Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). It also housed the moon set for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Disney purchased Lucasfilm, Ltd. Stage H is very large, the biggest at Shepperton.
This was cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau's first digital movie. Morgenthau used an Arri Alexa Plus camera, with Panavision anamorphic lenses: "The lenses brought some of the magic and mystery of photorealism back to digital, that big-movie look."
The production offices on the Shepperton Studios lot, were listed as "Asgard Productions II UK Ltd.", and the fake title of the movie being used was "The Mighty Thursday Mourning", written in a font like that of the comic book-style The Mighty Thor logo.
According to Jake Morrison, the Harrows navigation interface was a great way to combine outside with inside environments: "It projects the surroundings on a bubble around you. With some cockpit shots in other films, you'd cut from the exteriors that would be frenetic and fast-paced into potentially quite a dark interior with a lot of dialogue, you can make the outside very exciting, but when you get into the cockpit, how do you make that stuff fun?"
Brian Kirk had entered into early negotiations to direct, but later dropped out. Patty Jenkins was later confirmed to direct, but dropped out citing creative differences between her and Marvel. Alan Taylor and Daniel Minahan were on the final shortlist to direct, until finally Taylor got the job.
During the battle in Greenwich, Thor lands on the outside of a glass building and slides down it while those inside watch. This is likely a reference to Adventures in Babysitting (1987), which featured a young girl dressed as Thor sliding down the outside of a glass building in Chicago, Illinois.
When Jane (Natalie Portman) and Richard (Chris O'Dowd) are at the restaurant, Richard looks up and asks the (presumed waitress) they are ready to order, it turns out to be Darcy (Kat Dennings). Dennings played a waitress on 2 Broke Girls (2011), but was Jane's intern in the Thor movies.
Joss Whedon was brought in to do uncredited re-writes for a few scenes, including the extremely brief encounter with Kronan (which was originally a much longer scene) and Loki briefly masquerading as Captain America in a hallway conversation with Thor.
(At around one hour) The Asgard soldier that Loki impersonates as he walks with Thor down the long hallway scene is the same soldier that informs Odin of Loki's death (at around one hour and twenty-five minutes).
(At around one hour and forty minutes) The Aether is identified by the Collector to be an Infinity Gem. Its red color identifies it as the Gem of Power. However, according to James Gunn, the Gem of Power is the one that appears in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) (The Orb).
Odin's fate was given different answers by some of the crew. Producer Kevin Feige didn't outright answer the question, but said that there are plans for him, director Alan Taylor thought he was dead, but wanted to know how he'd end up in the sequel, and Sir Anthony Hopkins didn't have an idea, and believed that he was dead. As of the release of Thor: Ragnarök (2017), Odin is alive, but dies part way through the movie.
According to producer Kevin Feige, every Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 2 movie has an homage to the Star Wars saga, in the form of a character losing an arm. In Iron Man 3 (2013), Aldrich Killian loses an arm during the battle with Tony Stark. In this movie, Loki cuts off Thor's arm on Svartalfheim, but is revealed to be an illusion. In the final battle, Malekith also loses his arm. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Bucky lost his arm during his fall from the train, and it has been replaced by a mechanical one. In Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Gamora cuts off Groot's arm during the group's initial scuffle on Xandar. Later, Nebula cuts off her own arm to escape. In Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Ulysses Klaue loses his hand to Ultron.
The mid-credits scene of handing over the Aether to the Collector can be a reference to the comics, where he had the reality Infinity Stone, but unaware of its true power. In the scene however, he is fully aware that it is an Infinity Stone.
A dead giveaway that Odin was being impersonated by Loki at the end of this movie is his posture. When the real Odin is seated on his throne, he sits evenly and upright, proudly. When Loki rules Asgard in Thor (2011), he sits on the throne at an angle, leaning toward his left. At the end of this movie, Odin is seated in the exact same posture as Loki.
(At around thirty minutes) Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) gets annoyed when Odin (Sir Anthony Hopkins) says she belongs in Asgard, like a goat belongs at a banquet table. Ironically, in the final scene of the movie on Earth (prior to the credits) she is seen eating at a kitchen table with a container of what is clearly labelled as goat's milk.
(At around one hour and three minutes) During Loki's (Tom Hiddleston's) and Thor's (Chris Hemsworth's) escape of Asgard with Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Thor's three friends assist by battling Asgardian guards. Fandral (Zachary Levi) and Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) are not shown killing any guards. Sif's (Jamie Alexander's) battle isn't shown, but if she followed the same principles, they were able to assist Thor and Loki without killing fellow Asgardians.