Marvel had some big worries about Thor in the early days. And he almost didn't make the cut when it came to The Avengers. There were concerns that he just didn't fit in with the other superheroes. Oh, how wrong everyone was. Now Thor has more screen time than any other Avenger in Infinity War, his clock only topped by the main villain Thanos.
No one knew Marvel was going to become the juggernaut it eventually became back in those early days. And the studio itself didn't have the footing or confidence it now gleefully wields. The team behind bringing these iconic superheroes to the big screen in what were planned as legitimate movies, as opposed to the B level dreck that had come before it, just didn't know if some of these guys would fly. And of most concern was The God of Thunder.
Thor starred in his first standalone movie way back in 2011, and it was met with enthusiasm, but not as much as Iron Man or Captain America. There was genuine concern and worry that the character would not slide right in and fit within the confines of Joss Whedon's epic 2012 ensemble The Avengers. When the movie first started coming together, Marvel was ready to regulate Chris Hemsworth to a much smaller role in the team-up. Zak Penn, who received story credit on the first Avengers, recently offered this take on how it all came together, and the mindset at Marvel at the time. A lot of those working hard to bring this massive undertaking to screens didn't quite believe they could keep the momentum and the magic going.
"It wasn't just me. I would say myself, Kevin Feige, Avi Arad, Ari Arad, all of us [said], 'This isn't going to last. This isn't going anywhere.' It was considered risky, believe it or not. I know that seems crazy right now, but a number of people said, 'You're really going to to go with this startup company and they're going to make [and finance] their own movies? That never works out.'"
It did work out, though. Way better than anyone ever expected. But Thor was just one of those characters that was hard to squeeze into the mix, and Penn felt the hero's screen time needing to dwindle as the process wore on. Some at Marvel just didn't have any faith in the God of Thunder.
"I remember Chris Hemsworth walking through the Marvel offices and being, 'Oh, my god, that guy is Thor!' Originally I was trying to reduce how much Thor was in the movie. Once it was clear that, no, this is going to work and they were excited about it, then I did not [reduce Thor in the script]. I stopped doing that."
Thor actually got some of the best scenes in The Avengers, and his popularity was on the rise. Sadly, some Marvel fans didn't quite take to his next stand alone sequel, though. And Thor: the Dark World is often called out as one of the MCU's worst efforts. Even Chris Hemsworth was tired of the character by that point. Luckily, he teamed with director Taika Waititi, and they managed to turn the character around in Thor: Ragnarok, which is one of the best received Marvel movies yet, often called a pure joy and adventurous blast of sheer entertainment.
Thor's more popular now than he ever was. And that momentum will carry over into Infinity War. Yes, Thor, who teams up with Rocket Raccoon and Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy, will be hogging up a lot of the screen time. And he will be back in Avengers 4. But you better enjoy it while you can. Hemsworth contract expires after these next two sequels, and we may never see him in the MCU ever again. Zak Penn's comments first appeared at The Hollywood Reporter.