Don Payne, whose film credits include “Thor,” “Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer,” and “Thor: The Dark World” passed away last night in Los Angeles, according to friends who spread the word today via Twitter.
It seems fitting that I learned the news from the Twitter feeds of both Kat Dennings and Jaimie Alexander, who played Darcy and Sif in “Thor,” and from Mike Scully, the man who first hired Payne to write for “The Simpsons.” Payne is one of those people who I never met, but who was friends with a number of people who I am friends with, and I always heard good things about him on a personal level. He inspired real loyalty in some people I trust implicitly, and I always hoped we would end up meeting at some point. One of the people speaking fondly of him tonight was Zack Stentz, one of the other credited writers on “Thor,” which I think speaks volumes. It isn’t everyone who can remain friends on the far side of an arbitration process.
I saw that Scott Weinberg seemed stricken when he learned the news this evening. There’s a two-part interview that Scott did with Don for Cinematical and The TV Squad that you can read, but it seems like Don went above and beyond, arranging for Scott to tour the offices of “The Simpsons” during one of his rare trips to Los Angeles. That’s the sort of thing you’re not obligated to do for people, but if you work on “The Simpsons,” you’re probably well aware of the iconic weight it has for people, and that small kindness can mean so much to someone.
Payne has two movies in development right now. “Thor: The Dark World” will be in theaters later this year, and “Maximum Ride,” based on the young adult novels by James Patterson, is supposedly going to be directed by Patterson himself.
There were no details today on how he passed, and honestly, that’s not our business unless the family releases those details. What matters is that in a short time, he seems to have touched a lot of his collaborators and he was lucky enough to work on movies that spoke directly to his life-long interests. It sounds like he enjoyed what he did, and there is nothing greater that you can say about anyone, in my opinion.
Here’s hoping Marvel dedicates this fall’s “Thor” sequel to the scribe. I’d argue that there was no trickier film in the Phase One cycle of films than “Thor,” and his contributions were a big part of figuring out how to make that film work for a general audience.
Our deepest condolences go out to his family and friends.