One of the most shocking moments in the otherwise knockabout ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ sees Cate Blanchett’s Hela destroying Mjolnir. The “goddess of death” crushes Thor’s mighty hammer with her bare hands, as if it were a paper cup.
As we know from previous Marvel films, and the enchantment of the hammer – “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor” – the wielder of Mjolnir is granted certain powers, and in theory, this makes it impossible for anyone other than Thor to pick it up.
So, when we see Hela effortlessly catching it without flinching, we know she means business and Thor is in deep trouble. However, this scene seems to have gone through substantial changes during the film’s production.
Early trailers showed this pivotal moment taking place in a grimy New York alley, whereas in the finished film (and in later trailers) the action has been transposed to a field on the Norwegian coast.
‘Thor: Ragnarok’ director Taika Waititi explained to Yahoo Movies exactly why this scene changed during reshoots, but beware – spoilers incoming.
The new version of the scene sees Thor and Loki teleporting to Norway through a portal created by Doctor Strange. There they find a reflective and sombre Odin, who explains the origins of Hela, and why she’s so dangerous, before she arrives in person. It sounds like the location was changed to give the touching moment between the family more gravitas.
“We wanted the scene to have more of an emotional resonance around Odin and the sons,” Waititi tells Yahoo. “We wanted it to be a very special moment between them, where Odin (Anthony Hopkins) acknowledges Loki (Tom Hiddleston) as his son, and the three of them [are] together, there in that moment.
“It’s the first time we’ve really seen them all together in the same room alone, connecting, and you just can’t f***ing do that in New York, you know? You can’t even do that in real life in New York, have an emotional connection in an alleyway, so that was a very distracting environment in the end. In the end we thought it’s actually better to give more weight to it, and give it the sort of time that it deserved, and give it the sort of quietness that it really deserved because everything up until then had been such a fast-paced journey.”
The opening of the film moves at breakneck speed, and the moment they hit Norway feels like a much-needed cold, deep breath.
“Thor was on Muspelheim, he gets up to Asgard, then suddenly they’re in New York, and [with] Doctor Strange, and then they’re in an alleyway,” Waititi adds, “We just needed to chill out for a second, and have that moment, because the rest of the film basically just runs at a clip. The audiences get to relax and have some emotional connection to some of the characters. It was very important that we took it away from New York.”
Paparazzi photos from the film’s location shoot in Brisbane (doubling for New York) showed Anthony Hopkins’ Odin looking like a homeless person.
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This seemed to confirm early reports that Odin would be found wandering New York like a “crazy-looking ‘the end is nigh’ street-corner hobo”.
It could have been a funny moment, but it probably wouldn’t have been a very dignified end for the ruler of Asgard, as Waititi explained.
“[Odin] was originally in New York, and people couldn’t understand why – rightly so. It just didn’t feel very authentic that Odin was wandering around New York, he’s one of the most powerful beings in the universe, and he’s wandering around New York, kind of lost.
“What we wanted to do, I guess, was to honour that he was a powerful king and he had taken himself to Norway, to the cliffs and was waiting this whole time, whereas before it seemed too sand and too tragic that he was there, and dying in New York. I thought, what a pitiful end, you know?”
So, it sounds like this early scene was reshot to attempt to inject some gravitas into proceedings, and it seems like a wise decision in hindsight. Many people have questioned whether ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ might be “too funny”, and has a “throwaway” vibe, and this could have tipped it into farce territory.
Reshoots: they don’t always signify a troubled shoot.
‘Thor: Ragnarok’ is in cinemas now.