Although Thor was an extremely risky film for Marvel Studios to make in 2011, it is important to remember that at the time when Thor was developing, successful superhero films were defined by gritty reboots and grounded takes on the character. So, the idea of Marvel following up the relatively grounded Iron Man movies, which had their own production difficulties, and The Incredible Hulk with the story of a literal god, was very distressing to say the least. Well, you should hire a director who is well-versed in Shakespeare.
A feature film adaptation of Thor's comic book had been in the works for years before Marvel Studios would develop its own version. Sam Raimi, who would then direct various Spider-Man movies and help define the superhero genre, originally wanted Thor back in the early 1990s after Darkman, but the studio wasn't interested. In August 2007, fresh off the back-to-back productions of Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, Marvel Studios chose Matthew Vaughn to take the lead.
Vaughnwho would then direct the Kingsman movies and X-Men: First Class because of his directorial debut Layer Cake and his fantasy adaptation Stardust. But by May 2008, Vaughn was announced from Thor, who was later released from his holding agreement (he was moved on to Kick-Ass). At the same time, Marvel Studios announced a long-term release date without a director.
Guillermo del Toro was in discussions to direct before departing from The Hobbit in September 2008, with Kenneth Branagh, the legendary Henry V producer, who brought his extensive understanding of Shakespeare and contemporary literature to the table. After signing Branagh, Marvel pushed the Thors release date back to 2011.
The idea of landing Branagh to direct Thor would have been futile as the filmmakers' ability did for the ensemble's famed cast. Natalie Portmannot is yet an Oscar winner but is about to star in Black Swan: Branagh is the reason she decided to star in the Marvel film:
"I just thought it sounded like a strange idea because Kenneth Branagh's composition, so I was just like, "Kenneth Branagh is doing Thor, but I've got to do it."
Similarly, Idris Elbastill was riding the wave of The Wireand Stellan Skarsgard cited Branagh as the reason they left the film. But when it came time to reprise the titular role, it was a bit easier.
Daniel Craig was offered the role outright, but it was turned down to focus on the James Bond franchise. Tom Hiddleston was one of the many young people who auditioned to play Thor, but Marvel believed he was better fit for Loki. Charlie Hunnam, Alexander Skarsgard, Joel Kinnaman, Kevin McKidd, and even WWE star Triple-H were among the others who also tested.
Chris Hemsworth, meanwhile, nearly didn't make the cut. After Chris' arrival from his country, the Australian actor struggled to find an agency willing to represent him, and the president of Marvel passed, after Chris's agent forced Kevin Feige to take a screen test. Hemsworth, however, admitted that on the set of the meta-horror film, he and director Drew Goddard offered advice for preparation.
The rest of his narrative, as Hemsworth blew everyone away with his screen test, and was nominated for the roles. At the same time, Marvel announced Hemsworth and Hiddlestons' casting.
In Thor: The Dark World, Fandral was initially to be played by Stuart Townsend, but he was replaced days before filming by Joshua Dallas (Manifest)the second high-profile firing of Townsend, who was removed from playing Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings in the midst of production. Curiously enough, Dallas was replaced in Thor: The Dark World by Zachary Levi.
When it came to Hemsworth's appearance, the actor got a wig, big fancy robes, and even dyed facial hair to help him in keeping up with the comics' appearance. Feige admitted in 2018 that it was a mistake to dye Hemsworth's eyebrows and beard blonde simply because Thor looked in a certain way:
"Definitively, the one thing I would certainly do differently if I had to do it again, is that in the first Thor, Chris Hemsworth was fantastic and talented, but there are a few shots I see and he was like, oh my God, that poor guy, we made him freaking dye his eyebrows! Thats ridiculous! Now, Hemsworth is Thor, and he doesn't need long hair, or a cape, or two eyeballs to be Thor.
Thor goes through the most transition from film to film, but Thor: Ragnarok is basically a complete reboot of the character, and his characterization is nearly unrecognizable from this first Thor movie.
Branagh has been rewarded for delivering Thor off the ground in an attempt to avoid the MCU reality and in a way that led to The Avengers. Thor is still a god, and hes still got some great pride and pomposity, though this is a film that could have gone horribly wrong a number of times.
Thor's initial public offering was mostly positive on May 6, 2011, with its opening weekend box office reaching $65.7 million. A pittance to something like Avengers: Endgame, but an improvement over The Incredible Hulks $55 million at the time. When all was said and done, Thor grossed $449 million worldwide.
The Thor franchise has been complete, and it has put down another solidif not yet accomplished steps towards Marvels The Avengers, and expectations for Tom Hiddleston's performance were impressive. All these years later, Taika Waitit has been able to lead Thor Ragnarok and the latest Thor: Love and Thunder, as well as the evolution of Loki's stand-alone Disney+ series Loki, there is still a lot of new ground to be able to continue breaking with these godly Marvel characters.