SPOILER ALERT: This story covers the major plot developments in Marvel Studios’ “Thor: Love and Thunder‘ which is currently in cinemas.
“Actually, I wanted to write ‘Captain Marvel 2,'” says Robinson diversity. “And off that pitch they were like, ‘So we’re not giving you this job. We will pair you with Taika and you will help him with ‘Thor’.”
At the time, Waititi was in the midst of awards season for 2019’s “Jojo Rabbit,” which won the filmmaker the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and needed a partner to walk the delicate tightrope of a film’s story: Thor (Chris Hemsworth ) battles the existential threat of Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale) with his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), turned superhero by the mystical hammer Mjolnir – also erasing the effects of stage 4 cancer ravaging her Body.
Robinson spoke up diversity about the “responsibility” to direct Jane’s storyline, what it’s like to work on a set with Waititi, her trust in the Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feig, and why she suspected Hercules was the big reveal in the film’s post-credits scene — even if she didn’t know who would be playing him. (One thing Robinson wouldn’t discuss: who Lena Headey played in her deleted scenes in the movie: “You’ll never know. Unless Taika or Kevin tell you.”)
When you first started working on the script with Taika Waititi, did you have a specific area that you focused on, or was it just everything?
I would say everywhere. It really was like this: There was a really amazing blueprint. Then it was just a matter of digging into the blueprint. It pulled back the levels and really delved into the characters. Jane’s story was something I was heavily involved with. That was the point where I was most useful to the process I think.
How do you think the story of Jane’s cancer developed?
It was always there. Obviously it’s in the comics and it was in Taika’s first draft. And then it was just, you know, what does that mean? We’ve had a lot of conversations, especially with Natalie, about having a responsibility here. What an amazing thing to be able to show a superhero with cancer and really not shy away from the ugliness and the difficult things about it, but also to really let that character shine. Many of the conversations were, “How do we do justice to that and how do we put something on screen that means something and resonates with cancer survivors?”
Before the movie started, everyone including NatalieShe avoided confirming that Jane had cancer, but her first scene in the film is during her chemotherapy. Was it always like this?
Yes. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but I think it’s okay: it was actually pre-Marvel in the original draft [Studios logo]. In Taika’s original draft, it was even earlier. It’s always been a moving piece – eventually it’s what it became [the origins for] Gorr and I think it’s great. but [Jane’s cancer] would never be a gotcha moment. It was always like this is this woman’s story. This is her bow. And here it starts.
How did you manage to weave this real and painful story into a huge fantastical superhero movie?
I think we’ve just always tried to search for the truth and the emotion behind it and really come from a human place. And not a general human place – it is a jane human place. It thinks how would jane deal with how works jane Are you moving through your diagnosis? Specificity, in my opinion, is what makes the best story and makes something feel universal. And that was Jane’s story specifically. Because yes, most cancer survivors don’t have access to a magical hammer that turns them into superheroes and gives them giant arms. There’s definitely a lot of really fantastic things, and then there’s a scene where she just tells her boyfriend that she has cancer, and she’s very nervous about doing that. This is a very human, real scene – on a boat in space. (laughs)
It sometimes felt like there was more to Valkyrie’s story than what we saw on screen at the end. Was there a version where we saw more of her life on New Asgard?
no The New Asgard portion of Valkyrie’s story may be a bit condensed, but it really was what the earlier drafts said. You know, the script was very long and the movie isn’t as long as the script. But those decisions were really more on Kevin/Taika’s side than mine.
When I interviewed Natalie Portman to the diversitythe cover storyShe spoke about how Taika shoots very unconventionally — that he’ll essentially throw the script away that day.
You’ve also worked on those sides, of course – what was it like when you were on set and that happened?
We edited them together. He threw away his own work! We really sat in rooms and zooms together for months, and then we got there and rehearsed it, and – “kick out” is the wrong word. I mean him does Throw it away, but the core is still there. I would say he’s plus – he can’t help but always try to make plus. I can’t imagine Taika ever writing something and saying, “It’s done and we’re shooting it.”
How would he approach this part of the process?
There were different versions. We would sit at a table the next day reading what we were shooting and it would be like idea, idea, idea. I would sit with my laptop and listen and just close my Heimdall eyes and write something and then turn my computer around to him and say, “That?” So that was one version of that. Another version is in the first blocking rehearsal, things would change and I would just have my computer and type with one hand and follow Taika as he moves and changes things. There’s a little bit that’s not in the film, but it was Hemsworth and Pratt walking through that ditch, and I just remember it was kind of an out-of-body experience, like walking behind Taika, Chris, and Chris with one Laptop in this literal moat they dug that looks like you’re on a planet. And I just thought, “What the hell? How did I get here?” It was very bizarre.
And then I would say the third version of the way Taika directs is that he’s literally behind the monitor and I would be standing next to him and it would just scream things. I never yelled. I would always suggest Taika and then Taika would choose what he liked. But I had a lot of time where I had a mini monitor next to Taika, and we wrote the film almost in real time as they shot it. So there were all sorts of versions of putting this film together. Taika’s brain just moves at a pace that shouldn’t be allowed. It’s the way he kind of thinks or looks at things and how his ability to kind of play but also have total control is really amazing.
Has there ever been a time when you felt like you’d accidentally backed yourself into a corner based on other stuff you’d filmed before?
No, I think Taika and I were a good team as I was the kind of person that was there to remind him, ‘Oh, take that line. Oh, see that.” He was able to lean on me and get started in all these different places because he knew he had someone there who could bring it back if it needed to. When you get into editing, it kind of explodes anyway. So I always tried to be there in some way to make sure what needed to be said. Usually in a Marvel movie, these are very small things.
Were you involved at all in the post-credits scene where we learn that Brett Goldstein is playing Hercules?
I saw this at the premiere with everyone else. Just as I guess Taika didn’t know Thor was coming back, I didn’t know Roy Kent was Hercules. I’m a huge Marvel fan, so I was pleased to have a moment in the film where I was genuinely surprised.
You didn’t know about it?
I knew Hercules was being talked about. It wasn’t the name Hercules Not said in conversations that I definitely, probably shouldn’t be listening in, but did. So when I saw the beginning of the scene, I knew he was going to be talking to Hercules. I didn’t know who they cast. But I thought, will that be Hercules? I just knew it was one thing they said, “We want a leeway here, so stay away from that.”
Working with Marvel Studios can be an experience in itself. Did you have any big surprises while working on this film?
Not really. The task was to write with and for Taika. The assignment was to write for Marvel. I understand the task. And so I didn’t go in with any preconceived notions of what the job would be, had to be, should be. I was just kind of on the go. If you’re just throwing yourself into working for Marvel, that’s really exciting. It’s really fun. You have the biggest toy box in the world to play in and with. For me, especially since my first show Sweet/Vicious, I already had some sort of brain as to where I wanted to be in my career. To get here I was like, ‘Damn, yeah, I’m in whatever that is.’ With any job, there are days when it’s really challenging, when you’re banging your head against the wall. But there are also days when you’re standing in a ditch on a stage in Australia with two Chrises and Taika and you’re like, “This is crazy.” So I think it’s just incredibly fun to ride the waves, having a very high-stakes job.
Do you expect to work with Marvel again?
I do not know. At this point I’m very open to where life is taking me. One thing I’ve learned in this business is that you can try to plan and plans will be thrown in your face and you’ll be laughed at. So I stopped planning. If I get a call and they want me to come in and suggest something and I feel like I’m the right person for it, yes, I would work with Marvel again. All I want to say is that Kevin really understands how to bring writers and directors and executives and projects together – to create this creative soup. So when Kevin feels like I’m right for something, I really trust him because I think I’m primed to succeed.
This interview has been edited and abridged.