Before fans get to see the Asgardian warrior Thor return in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Chris Hemsworth will next take to the high seas in director Ron Howard's Heart of the Sea, arriving in theaters March 13, 2015. USA Today has released the first three photos for this harrowing drama, based on the true story which served as the inspiration for Moby Dick.

Chris Hemsworth stars as Owen Chase, the first mate on a ship named Essex, which was rammed by a massive whale in 1819, forcing the crew to survive for 90 days on three tiny boats. Ron Howard revealed in a new interview that there is plenty of action in Heart of the Sea, although the character development and drama is just as vital to the story.

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"It has a lot of action in it, and that's vitally important. But it's also dependent on rich characters and nuanced emotional performances, and those are all aspects of the movie we're also dealing with under great physical duress. Nobody backed away from the challenge. In front of the camera and behind the camera it was, pardon the pun, all hands on deck at all times."

Chris Hemsworth revealed that his character Owen Chase is trying to lay down the law to the new members of his crew.

"There's lot of a guys who are completely new to it, fresh off the land and off the boat. He's trying to set the tone and lay down the law that the simplest mistake out here could sink the ship. He doesn't have time to educate them in any great detail. It's hard and fast."

Ron Howard says that he is attracted to this true story for the same reasons that Moby Dick author Herman Mellville was.

"It's wild. It's what attracted Meville to this story - it's man vs. nature in the most immediate, intense way."

Production started at England's Leavesden Studios in September of last year, before moving to the Canary Islands for the shipwreck scenes. Ron Howard said that the actors had to cut back on their meals to resemble these shipwrecked crew members.

"Some of them said they didn't notice the seasickness because they were sick from the moment they woke up anyway. (It was) a life experience. Of course I, too, was sunburned and a little nauseous and windburned and feeling pressed for time and outside my comfort zone, but it was in an exciting way."

The filmmaker added that Heart of the Sea essentially serves as an origin story for Moby Dick.

"It's not Moby-Dick, the story we all know. It's the origin story for Moby-Dick and its own really compelling, suspenseful survival story."

Take a look at the first photos below, which feature Chris Hemsworth, Ron Howard and a glimpse of the giant whale:

Heart of the Sea Photo 1
Heart of the Sea Photo 2
Heart of the Sea Photo 3