When Marvel fans saw the exciting trailer for Thor: Ragnarok late last year, they saw Cate Blanchett’s Hela crush Thor’s mighty hammer, Mjolnir, in a gritty New York City alley. But in the final version of the film released in theaters, Hela destroyed Mjolnir on a beautiful cliff in Norway. What happened? As it turns out, it was a last-minute change on the part of director Taika Waititi.
In conjunction with the Blu-ray release of Thor: Ragnarok on March 6, VFX supervisor Jake Morrison tells Inverse why the filmmakers relocated one of the biggest moments of Ragnarok from New York to Norway — and just how little time they had until the theatrical release to do so.
“We shot it all, we finished it all, we put it all together, and when Taika looked at at the film, he really just felt like this wasn’t the right moment,” Morrison tells Inverse in a phone interview. In the original cut of Thor: Ragnarok, Odin died in an alleyway, but Waititi thought a more picturesque location was better suited for the pivotal moment.
“Because it’s a really incredible, touching moment, and Thor and Loki’s dad dies in this incredibly busy, New York alleyway with graffiti. So we reshot the thing in a field in Atlanta about five weeks before delivery.”
“That was a last-minute thing,” Morrison adds. “It was in service of the film making sure it had a resonance with the characters and the character choices.”
Evidence of this change is supported by the deleted scenes, accessible on the Blu-ray. In the theatrical version, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange opens a portal to Norway where Thor and Loki say goodbye to their father prior to Hela’s arrival. But in the original cut, Strange directs Thor to another city block, presumably where the scenes from the trailer took place.
Morrison, whose previous credits include other Marvel films like Ant-Man, The Avengers, and the last two Thor films, also reveals that Cate Blanchett crushed a fragile version of Mjolnir made out of the same foam that florists use.
“You know that foam you stick flowers into? We fashioned a hollow version of the hammer from that stuff,” Morrison says, explaining the resistance helped Blanchett with her performance. “There was just enough tension that she could grab a hold of it and really dig her fingers into it. With visual effects, the more we give the actors a real thing to play with, even if we’re gonna replace it, it helps the performance. So she was really digging her fingers and she could get a feel she was destroying [Thor’s] hammer.”
Thor: Ragnarok is now available on Blu-ray and Digital HD.