While the first Thor never achieved the bombastic reception that audiences gave Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, for the most part, it’s still viewed as a fun and welcomed entry from director Kenneth Branagh during the early days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unfortunately, the first sequel, Thor: The Dark World, is considered one of the low points in the MCU, and in a new interview, Branagh has opened up about his decision to not direct the sequel.
While promoting his Disney+ movie, Artemis Fowl, Branagh revealed that there was an intense amount of pressure regarding the casting of Thor and Loki in the first film. Unbeknownst to audiences, Branagh knew ahead of time that the relationship between the two brothers would spill over into The Avengers, and if they didn’t get the casting just right and nail the Shakespearean-like drama between the God of Thunder and his trickster sibling, the whole MCU could collapse on itself. Obviously, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston nailed their respective roles, but there was a considerable amount of stress over banking on the two actors, who were nowhere close to the household names they are now. Via Collider:
“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.’”
Despite having his own ideas for a Thor trilogy, the high-stakes decision-making on the first film wore Branagh down, and he needed to “recharge on something else.” While Taiki Waititi is now in-charge of the franchise after rejuvenating the character in Thor: Ragnarok, Branagh is definitely open to the idea of coming back and directing a new character for the MCU.