Screenwriter Eric Pearson really brings down the hammer in Thor: Ragnarok.
Ragnarok finds Thor stranded on the planet Sakaar, where he encounters -- and clashes -- with his fellow Avenger, the Hulk. Eventually, Thor convinces Bruce Banner, his half-brother Loki and the warrior Valkyrie to unite against the Goddess of Death, Hela. Having escaped her eternal prison, conquered Asgard and resurrected Fenris Wolf, Hela vs. the "Revengers" promises to be an epic battle that may forever alter Thor’s status quo and destiny in the MArvel Cinematic Universe.
Ahead of the film's North American opening, Pearson spoke with CBR about what awaits Thor on his latest adventure. Over the course of our conversation, the writer opens up about the appeal in seeing the Odinson battle the Green Goliath, the level of threat Hela truly represents, and how it all fits into Marvel's roadmap to Avengers: Infinity War.
CBR: Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost are also credited as Thor: Ragnarok’s screenwriters. At what point did you become involved in the writing process?
Eric Pearson: I began work January 1, 2016. I remember because I got a call the day before Christmas from Brad Winderbaum, the executive producer on Thor. He told me to find my agent and see if I’d be able to come in and start work. They were starting to shoot July 4. We worked it out over the break. Brad, myself, Kevin [Feige] and Taika [Waititi] were in there eight or nine hours with what we were going to do and how we were going to build off the new script. From there, I was pretty much on it until the end of post-production.
When you landed this gig, what were some of the comic-book cornerstones that you looked at for inspiration?
Obviously, "Planet Hulk" was one that they brought in. I forget the name of the run with Gorr the God Butcher. (CBR: The story ran in Thor: God of Thunder #1-11) That was one of my favorite Thor stories. I looked at the first appearance of Hela, Skurge and some of these other characters. But I was under a deadline crunch; I read the package Marvel gave me over the break, then it was pretty much, “I have to get a script out,” because they were shooting in six months.
How does Thor’s journey come full circle from where we first met him?
In the first movie, he’s the arrogant illustrious prince who wants his throne, but doesn’t deserve it. In the second one, he turns it down to go find himself. In many ways, this was a bit of a homecoming, not to step on Spider-Man. The last time we saw him, Thor was turning down the throne and wanted to go out and still be a protector of the cosmos and a hero, but needed to find his own way.
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When this movie starts, some time has passed, and we wanted to introduce a new Thor. What he’s found in his own soul-searching and enjoying his independence as the solo cosmic Avenger. But, he is still tied through his family and fate and bigger universal sources to Asgard and the royal lineage. He left to be the cosmic Avenger on his own and find himself and some independent fun, and he unknowingly left Loki on the throne. Now, it’s coming back to bite him in the ass.
There’s been a time jump since viewers last saw Thor in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Where do we currently find Thor and how has he changed?
A lot of this came from Taika. One of the first things he put down is, “This is a Thor movie. Thor has to be the coolest guy in it. And, we’ve got to make him fun and likeable and awesome.” Our thinking is you first met him with a little bit of a narrow point of view. He’s almost like a home-schooled kid, who has been home schooled in a giant, fabulous golden palace. His world view is a little restricted.
Through the movies, he’s been hanging out with Iron Man, and there’s been all these sarcastic quips thrown around. We wanted Thor to have this voice of a rogue adventurer. He’s been out trying to find himself outside of the context of just being the heir to the throne of Asgard. We wanted to have a little more fun in his voice and a little less regal.
As for where we find him, the last thing we heard in Ultron was that he was going to investigate the Infinity Stones. He’s been doing that for a while, but, he’s also heard word of some trouble around the Nine Realms. He’s taken a detour from his greater Infinity quest to come check out what’s happening at home.
Is being ruler of Asgard everything Loki imagined? Or has he bitten off more than he can chew?
The gig is everything he imagined. We imply there’s a great reckoning around the corner, but from Loki’s point of view, everything is great. He’s having a lot of fun. It was great to play to the Loki character with the façade of Odin, of Anthony Hopkins. There’s a couple of ways we could have gone, like a power-hungry Loki. What we found the most fun is the core of Loki’s essence. He’s pretty narcissistic, so we lean heavily into that.