From the Set of Thor: The Dark World

How much darker can Thor: The Dark World get?

Well, if you’re asking new director Alan Taylor, best known for his work on Emmy-winning television shows like “Mad Men” and “Game of Thrones,” any of the actors or the crew of Marvel Studios’ second sequel and second movie following the global blockbuster Marvel’s The Avengers, it’s going to get pretty damn dark.

That’s one of many things we learned when ComingSoon.net/SuperHeroHype visited the London sets of Thor: The Dark World, a massive production that has taken up multiple soundstages at two major London studios for months. We spent roughly a day and a half getting a behind-the-scenes look at what Taylor was doing with the sequel and mind you, this was about a year ago, and at the time we hadn’t seen any footage or trailers and knew very little about the movie. Because it was so far out, everyone was nervous to tell the visiting journalists too much.

PHOTO GALLERY: View new photos from Thor: The Dark World!

We already knew that the movie would introduce the characters of Malekith and Algrim, leader of the Dark Elves and his second in command, who were introduced during one of the most esteemed runs in the history of the Thor comics, written and illustrated by Walter Simonson. We also knew that in the comics, Algrim was eventually transformed into the beastly Kurse by the Beyonder as part of “Secret Wars II”… although the less said about that the better.

CRAIG KYLE’S INTRODUCTORY PRESENTATION

Before going through what we saw on set, we’re going to jump ahead to Day 2 when producer Craig Kyle gave us a runthrough of the general plot while showing us some of the concept art for the movie in an impressive presentation. Kyle talked to us for 40 minutes from the production offices at Shepperton, going through the concept art that surrounded the room and showing us a sizzle reel of footage.

“Speaking specifically about the vision for this second story in ‘Thor’ or third part if you take in ‘Avengers,’ which we do take into account, this is setting high expectations. But at least for the Thor story, we’re entering a darker era. I can’t say the ‘Empire Strikes Back’ of our storyline, but if it was, wouldn’t that be amazing?” Kyle teased us in his intro.

The sequel takes place about a year and a half after the first movie and follows the events of The Avengers, leaving a lot for Thor and his brother Loki to have to deal with on returning to Asgard, but also dealing with the repercussions from what happened in that movie to Stellan Skarsgard’s Dr. Erik Selvig. “Lots of these threads continue to spread outwards in ways that only deepen the stories we’re about to tell in these individual sagas, so it’s truly our job to bring the books to life in a way that made them so popular when we were all kids. It’s a big duty, but we’re doing our best,” Kyle told us.

The opening scene of the movie involves kids finding a cement truck floating in the air inside a warehouse, as we see briefly in the trailer, which is the first signs of something that’s sweeping across the universe called “The Singularity,” which comes about from fault lines across the universe that are contracting and expanding every 5,000 years. As it happens, the Dark Elves also haven’t been seen in 5,000 years–Odin believed them to be wiped out when he was a child—so when their mothership The Ark reappears, it’s not good for either Earth or Asgard.

As the film opens, the Nine Realms of Asgard are in chaos as a band of space pirates called The Marauders, made up of criminals and killers from outside the Nine Realms, are attacking planets knowing that the Asgardians are busy with other issues back on Asgard. Kyle showed us concept art of Vanaheim, the first of the Nine Realms we visit, the home of the Vanir, brothers to the Asgardians we already know who aren’t nearly as skilled or ready for an attack by the Marauders. After that attack and with the return of the Dark Elves, Odin goes into “full warrior mode,” a general watching over his troops as they begin to train the younger Asgardians for the upcoming battle.

Kyle mentioned that the Observatory and the Bifrost (the bridge between the Asgardian worlds) are being rebuilt after being destroyed in the last movie, although that rebuilding is not something we’ll see in the sequel. He hinted that the rebuilt Bifrost will allow the Asgardians to see further into space than just the Nine Realms, including some of Jack Kirby’s creations like the Celestial Bodies. (Being that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is travelling further into the cosmic galaxies of the Marvel Comics Universe with Guardians of the Galaxy next year, it makes sense that we’ll start seeing more of that in Thor: The Dark World.) He also said we’d be seeing other sides of Asgard, parts that aren’t as shiny, clean and new as what we saw in the first movie, including the Palace Dungeon where Loki is imprisoned on being returned to Asgard. More on that later.

Kyle showed us some of the costume redesigns for the returning characters such as Idris Elba’s Heimdall, who plays a larger role in the movie, as well as Fandral of the Warriors Three, who is played this time by Zachary Levi.

At the time, one of the more exciting revelations from Kyle’s presentation–something we all now know from the most recent trailer—was that Thor would be fighting a Stoneman from Saturn who he originally fought in his very first appearance in Journey Into Mystery. Even though Kyle denied it, he showed us a shot of one of the Marauders who looked a lot like the popular mercenary Death’s Head, who happens to have been appearing in the comics in recent months.

A “DELICATE” FINAL BATTLE

Our first day was mainly spent at London’s Shepperton Studios visiting some of the soundstages before heading to the backlot where we got to watch some of second unit, although what they were shooting that day was so “delicate” and plot-sensitive, they couldn’t allow us to watch for too long. Essentially, it was a big battle involving Thor, Loki and the creature named Kurse with Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje looking fierce in the latter’s armored exoskeleton.

In between takes, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston came over to chat with the visiting journalists and while we already shared the interview with Hemsworth here, you can read the full interview with Hiddleston, who returns for his third go-round as Loki, on the next page.