Back in 2009, actor and filmmaker Kenneth Branagh gave the MCU, which was still taking its first steps towards becoming the massive franchise we know today, it's second major hit after Iron Man, in the form of Thor. In an interview with Collider, Branagh explained why he did not return to direct the sequels.
"The way things work, there was a version of events where... sometimes with these stories I like to plan them as trilogies, but it's much harder in this world for that to work out because the stakes are so high you've gotta really see how the first one does. When the first one was finished, essentially it had been three fantastic years of my life, but I needed to recharge on something else."
"I was too close to the glass on that one, so I would definitely never say never again because it changed my life and changed my career and I'm profoundly grateful for it. I wasn't ready to go straight into another one, but I like the idea of... I'd love to be planning something that was a three-parter in movie terms. That hasn't come along yet but maybe it will."
Still, despite his relationship with the MCU being limited to one movie, Branagh's contribution to the franchise cannot be minimized. Thor proved that the MCU could feature movies built on a seemingly preposterous premise, like a space Viking from another planet becoming a superhero, and turn it into a success, and part of the same reality as Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk.
Even more importantly, Kenneth Branagh is credited with casting Chris Hemsworth as Thor, widely acknowledged as one of the three main pillars of the MCU aside from Iron Man and Captain America, and Tom Hiddleston as Loki, widely considered the best MCU villain until Thanos came along. Branagh revealed that both he and Kevin Feige were profoundly aware of important it was to find the perfect casting for Thor and Loki.
"I'll never forget the moment that we cast those two boys [Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston]. It was like a sort of meditation or a sort of incantation... Kevin Feige must've walked around this long oval table a hundred times on that Saturday morning as I kept sort of saying, 'I think we should call them.' 'Are you sure?' 'Yeah, I think we should call them.'... and I knew how profoundly serious that decision was. Kevin said, 'We'll never make a more important decision in this company than what's happening in this room, Saturday morning at 10:30, when you pick up the phone to Chris Hemsworth and then Tom Hiddleston. It's either going to work or it's not. Good luck.'"
Branagh's latest directing effort takes the form of the movie adaptation of Eoin Colfer's bestselling Artemis Fowl novels. The movie is available for viewing on Disney+. Branagh will also be seen in an acting capacity in Christopher Nolan's widely anticipated movie Tenet. This news originated at Collider.