Besides watching filming and talking to the talent, part of the fun of visiting sets is being able to walk around some of the locations people will eventually get to see on the big screen. In this case, most of the sets we saw were parts of Asgard, some familiar and some new.
The first day, we visited only one set that they were calling the “Medina Set,” essentially an Asgardian pub where the Gods hung out during their downtime, not that we expect them to have much of that during this movie. The pub was pretty much what you’d expect in that it had pillars and ornate decorations that seemed to be made from golden rock to give it a little more luster. It was a cool set but it probably was even better when filled with music and mead and people, which would include some of the other Asgardians from the comics including Volstagg’s family.
The next day we got to visit the Palace Dungeon, which looked like it had been carved out of the rock layer far below the city of Asgard with a long hallway lined with brightly-lit all-white cells with glass windows. They’re quite a stark contrast to the stone that makes up the majority of the dungeon with the ceilings and doors all being solid rock. Apparently one of these brightly-lit cells houses Loki when he’s brought back to Asgard but he wasn’t there on the day we visited, so we instead we watched 2nd Unit Director John Mahaffie (The Lord of the Rings, The Avengers) shoot an action scene of the Marauders invading the dungeon, fighting off the Asgardian guards, and releasing the prisoners.
Production designer Charles Wood joined us a little later to show us some of the other sets including Frigga’s Chambers, a set that also doubles as the Hall of Science, which contains a living section of the World Tree Ygdrassil as its centerpiece. This location is where the Asgardians find most of their scientific breakthroughs, although we didn’t learn what would be shot here, possibly a scene with Jane Foster. Frigga’s Chamber was filled with candles and urns and lounge chairs with a fountain in the middle replacing where Ygdrassil will be.
One of the few returning sets from the first movie is the Throne Room, which has been rebuilt on Shepperton’s largest set (with visual FX added later to make it look even bigger), although it was being modified the day we visited. Apparently, one of the Dark Elves’ Harrow ships crashes into the Throne Room, destroying it, so they were forced to rebuild that in order to shoot some earlier scenes.
Some of the recurring visual themes throughout most of the sets were the use of tree branches representing Ygdrassil as well as images of the Midgard Serpent that represents Ragnarok. A lot of the sets we saw had been aged to show that we’re in older parts of Asgard.
Because they want to make Asgard even bigger than the previous movie, they shot aerial shots in various locations around the English coast to represent the shores of Asgard as well as shooting CG “plates” in Norway to create some of the other vast landscapes.
Like the previous movie, not all of Thor: The Dark World takes place on Asgard, but this time, the Earth side of the equation has been moved to London, and we had a chance to walk around Dr. Jane Foster’s swanky new London digs. As would be expected, much of the apartment was lined with books on science and physics and mathematics, as well as the required telescope for someone who studies the stars. There was also a piano on one side and on it was the sheet music for a song called “Thor the Thunder God,” presumably the theme from the cartoon? Jane’s large apartment even has an entire rooftop patio, so clearly, the work Foster’s been doing since the last movie has brought her much success.
The last set we saw, which was in use at the time, was the bridge of the Dark Elves’ Ark, a dark cavern-like structure with bio-organic tendril-like mechanisms inside of it. There’s also a command chair that looks like something out of H.R.Giger’s Alien designs, which is clearly an influence on the Dark Elves ships. On the next page, you can read about Thor: The Dark World‘s new villains as well as read an interview with Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who plays Algrim and Kurse.