The screenwriting process involves long hours, lost sleep and graying hair. It also involves throwing away a hundred pretty good ideas to reach a great idea. And then you throw away a great idea to make sure an even better idea can survive elsewhere. Marvel movies are no different and screenwriter Eric Pearson has revealed that early Thor: Ragnarok drafts featured a cameo from an old Thor movie villain, a wholly unnecessary romance, and even a different background story for Cate Blanchett’s Hela.
Naturally, Thor: Ragnarok spoilers begin immediately.
Speaking with Yahoo, Pearson (who worked his way through the Marvel Writer’s Program and took over scripting duties from Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost) revealed how the recent box office juggernaut evolved once he became involved.
For example, it was his idea to make Hela the sister of Thor, a huge change from comic book lore, where she is the daughter of Loki. Encouraged by Brad Winderbaum, Marvel’s vice president of production and development, Pearson wrote the reveal into the screenplay without consulting the Marvel higher-ups and risking it getting shot down. As we can clearly see from the finished movie playing in theaters, this change was welcomed by Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige.
While a few items of cosmic significance make brisk appearances in Thor: Ragnarok, one of them got chopped out of the screenplay: the Destroyer, the enchanted suit of armor that the Odinson battled back in the first Thor movie. In one version of the screenplay, Hela takes down the Destroyer during her invasion of Asgard:
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.
While it would have been a nice callback, the sole purpose of a scene like this would be to establish that Hela is a threat. However, that is also established by her quickly wiping out Thor’s supporting cast without breaking a sweat. It would have been a cute Easter egg, but it’s a smarter cut.
Another strong revision involved making Thor and Valkyrie buddies instead of lovers. Pearson said that early versions of the screenplay saw the two heroes hooking up, but he decided to send them on a journey of “mutual respect” rather than romance:
But 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. It became more about the mutual respect, and also dealing with her PTSD. She’s someone 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.
This may be the smartest change Pearson discusses. While Thor is over Jane Foster, audiences may not be ready for him to hook up with someone else yet. Plus, Ragnarok is a story of Thor learning to be a leader and to take responsibility for his entire civilization, an arc that could have been muddied by a romantic subplot. But most importantly, this change allowed Valkyrie to stand on her own and exist on her own terms without being reduced to a love interest.
Thor: Ragnarok is in theaters now.
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