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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

Kenneth Branagh to direct Thor movie?

Are you sitting down? Kenneth Branagh — Kenneth Branagh — is in talks with Marvel Comics to bring the superhero Thor to the big screen. Branagh’s the last person I’d have thought of to take on a comic-book movie, but the more I think on it, the more I like it. Comic books are serious business these days, and what could possibly indicate that better than having the modern Olivier take one on? It’s true that the closest Branagh has come to genre is his 1994 Frankenstein, which is, um, bizarre, to say the least (Robert DeNiro as the Creature? interesting choice) — though Dead Again is an excellent ghost story. But Branagh, born in 1960, is right on that Boomer-Xer cusp. He would have grown up reading comic books and watching Doctor Who as a kid in Ireland; he was a teenager when Star Wars was released. He’s definitely in the geek demographic. I would trust that he gets us, because he’s one of us.

On the other hand, he has a certain reputation to uphold… a serious-minded reputation. I can only imagine the debate he must be having with himself over whether to take on a project like this, or not:
To geek, or not to geek: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the heart to indulge
The warp and weft of joyful dorkery,
Or to refuse the call of desperate nerdlings,
And by ignoring hush them? To geek: to fun
Evermore; and with an embrace to say we
Celebrate the thousand magic wonders
That geeks are heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To geek; to fun;
To fun: perchance to riches: there’s the rub;
For in that geekery what wealth may come
When I have shrugged off this mantl’d esteem,
Must give me pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of grave repute
For who’d bear the whips and scorns of critics
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The rudeness of box office and the spurns
That calm merit of shame’d Monday morning takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat a weary comic book,
But that the dread of aught after franchise,
The undiscover’d genre from whose bourn
Few filmmakers return, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those films we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make mundanes of we few;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.



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  • the rook

    superhero movies, like science fiction, only work when the actors really believe their lines. so they need really good actors, which is unfortunate since superhero movies always seem to get the short end of the serious acceptance stick. branagh is probably a necessary choice to make a character as potentially absurd as thor to come to life.

    great to be or not to be spoof. here’s mark twain’s version…

    “To be, or not to be; that is the bare bodkin That makes calamity of so long life; For who would fardels bear, till Birnam Wood do come to Dunsinane, But that the fear of something after death Murders the innocent sleep, Great nature’s second course, And makes us rather sling the arrows of outrageous fortune Than fly to others that we know not of. There’s the respect must give us pause: Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst; For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, The law’s delay, and the quietus which his pangs might take, In the dead waste and middle of the night, when churchyards yawn In customary suits of solemn black, But that the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns, Breathes forth contagion on the world, And thus the native hue of resolution, like the poor cat i’ the adage, Is sicklied o’er with care, And all the clouds that lowered o’er our housetops, With this regard their currents turn awry, And lose the name of action. ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. But soft you, the fair Ophelia: Ope not thy ponderous and marble jaws, But get thee to a nunnery–go!”

  • Hdj

    I like your little geek poem Mj, its cute.
    Not much I can say I got an F in all my poems.

    This Branagh guy has a thing for staring him self in movies. Though I gota say his Frankenstein is the closest movie to the book. So maybe he’ll stick close to the comic.
    Its not the director that worrys me the most its who plays Thor. I’ve been a Thor fan for along time, more Spiderman but Thors cool too. If they turn him in to some Dumb techno pro wrestler type guy, Im gunna be pissed.
    Now I heard crazy talk about Matthew McConaughey or one of his cronies like Cole Hauser to Helm Thor. They would screw it up.I say, go with Karl Urban he’s got Viking experience ( LotR’s, PathFindeer).

  • Tom S.

    My first thought was that if anyone can make the classic Thor dialogue like “I say the nay!” sound believable, it’d be Branagh. He knows how to work with Elizabethan verse better than anyone in film today.

    The real peril, IMO, is in the script. Hdj talks about sticking close to the comic, but the question is which comic to stick closely to. The two Marvel Avengers movies so far (Iron Man and Incredible Hulk) have drawn on a mix of the classical comics with a salting of ideas from the very different Ultimates line. (Sam Jackson as Nick Fury is explicitly from Ultimates, for example.) If they stick to the Ultimates approach, they have the problem that Thor is treated as basically a nut case with super powers, not really a god, until very late in the game. And there’ no Donald Blake alter-ego to provide the usual counter-balance to the Asgardian ass-kicker, just Thor as the ultimate alternative-rock, surfer-dude badass.

  • Ken

    Its not the director that worrys me the most its who plays Thor.

    Gerard Butler, please!

  • Nathan

    I guess Beta Ray Bill will be too much to ask for…

  • Henry

    I was actually surprised that Kenneth Branagh didn’t make the list in your “To Be or Not To Be” series; he could pretty much read the tax code and I would still be enthralled. And I’ve always thought he was kind of hot, in a nearly-old-enough-to-be-my-father sort of way.

  • MaryAnn

    I’m getting to Ken’s Hamlet. Who said I wasn’t?

  • Hdj

    *Sighs* I hate the Ultimate universe.

    Ultimate Thor

    Marvel Thor

    Marvel Thor’s the way to go. The one from Asgard! and fights for Odin!
    I can explain why their going with Ultimate Samuel L. Jackson “Fury”, it was ether Jackson or the Hoff , that sums it up.

  • Shadowen

    I’ve seen some advance word about Thor, and I think it’s really fascinating and deserves a more “serious” director. It’s an epic action film about religion, really–specifically, an Old Testament-style god learning to be a New Testament-style god. Supposedly, anyway.

  • Branagh would be perfect, he does over the top like no one else (except the Bard) can…

  • Henry

    posted by MaryAnn (Mon Oct 13 08, 10:27PM)

    I’m getting to Ken’s Hamlet. Who said I wasn’t?

    Ok, cool. I (mistakenly) assumed that was over once you saw it on stage. I wasn’t trying to be critical.

  • Some unofficial confirmation that Branagh is indeed on board….

  • MaryAnn

    I (mistakenly) assumed that was over once you saw it on stage. I wasn’t trying to be critical.

    Nope, I did say that I would continue the David Tennant and Hamlet stuff since I didn’t finish it during the summer, like I thought I would.

  • Poly in London

    Is there an official announcement that Kenneth Branagh will direct Thor? In any case, he has withdrawn from directing Jude Law in Hamlet on stage next year, the reason given is the Thor movie. So this is confirmed I say:
    http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117993948.html?categoryId=15&cs=1

  • MaryAnn

    Oh, no. Branagh directing Law in *Hamlet*? That would have been *awesome.*

  • Sort of related: James Bond Daniel Craig apparently has stated he was offered the role of Thor but turned it down.

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