Thor: Ragnarok has been making big strides both critically and financially, but during the film’s writing stage, writer Eric Pearson’s first draft was considerably different than the film’s final draft.
The writing process is as strange as it is stressful, with Pearson spending countless nights in his office on the Disney lot, he told to Yahoo!. Pearson, at the time, was attempting to find higher stakes between Thor and Hela’s final battle. Pearson realized that he could add more emotional levity by making Hela Thor’s sister. This was one of the first changes Pearson made to the script. When describing Hela, Pearson focused on the idea that she’s a wild memory from the past seeping into the present:
“We had decided that she’s like this ghost of Asgard’s past that’s come back. She represents the kind of violent way that they won their kingdom that Odin’s been trying to cover up.”
Before Pearson made Hela Thor’s sister, he consulted Brad Winderbaum, VP of production and development at Marvel Studios. Describing the idea to Winderbaum, Pearson recalled the conversation going along like this:
“I was like, ‘We’re getting to this moment, and it just doesn’t have the impact,’. I’m like, ‘With all this stuff, she should be Thor’s sister. And that should be the thing that [represents] what it is to rule Asgard, his family, what he’s been told, what he hasn’t been told.’”
Pearson continued by discussing the advice that Winderbaum gave him:
“Brad told me, ‘Don’t tell anyone. Just write it into the script. If we pitch it, it’s so much more likely to get shot down. Just write it into the movie.’”
With Winderbaum’s advice, Pearson went forth with the idea and decided to write the twist in the script. In the first draft, Valkyrie told Thor that Hela was his sister. Later on, in the writing process, they thought it would be best if Odin would deliver the twist early on in the film, so the stakes would be immediately clear.
Originally, Thor and Valkyrie were going to have a romantic subplot, but Pearson wanted to focus on Valkyrie as her own, separate entity:
“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.”
In Pearson’s original draft, there was much more intended screentime for Hela. Two scenes were cut, due to shooting limitations, in addition to the fact that the producers thought it was repetitive:
“I always want the villain to be really … not-Disney. I want to give them moments where they’re really massacring or crushing people. And she has that great entrance where she takes everybody out. [Originally it was extended,] and they were like, ‘This is a bit repetitive, and we don’t have the days to shoot it.’ 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.”
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Directed by Taika Waititi, Thor: Ragnarok stars Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson, Idris Elba, Karl Urban, Anthony Hopkins, and Jeff Goldblum.
Imprisoned on the other side of the universe, the mighty Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds himself in a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), his former ally and fellow Avenger. Thor’s quest for survival leads him in a race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela (Cate Blanchett) from destroying his home world and the Asgardian civilization.
Thor: Ragnarok is currently in theatres.