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Thor: The Dark World

Canvassing the Dark World: Thor's Charles Wood

Marvel's 'Thor: The Dark World' production designer Charles Wood talks about building the Mighty Avenger's world!

By Zack Zeigler

If actors feel awkward on set, it’ll translate onscreen and cause whatever they’re acting to suffer. In turn, the audience will lose interest, grow bored, and probably huck Skittles at the screen. It’s a domino effect.

So to bring the most out of an acting talent, you want them to believe in what they’re saying, to whom they’re saying it to, and the setting in which their dialog is being delivered.

Chris Hemsworth and Anthony Hopkins star as Thor and Odin in "Thor: The Dark World"

“The best thing you can do as an actor is to walk onto a set…[and] be comfortable, and really believe [you are] where you are,” said Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” production designer Charles Wood. “It’s quite important that you build…a space they believe in.”

The task handed to Wood for the sequel to 2011’s “Thor” was to construct director Alan Taylor’s vision of a slightly darker, grittier Asgard than we’d previously seen.

“[Taylor] allowed me to do my thing,” he explained. “He had a very strong vision…[and] he’s very articulate in what he’s looking for.”

The call for a revamped environment allowed Wood and his team to pull inspiration from various sources, including Norse runic shapes, as well Chinese, Islamic, and Gothic Romanesque influences. However, despite all of the aesthetic alterations, recognizable landmarks throughout Asgard will remain present.

“What we did was sort of reboot [Asgard], so to speak,” he said. “[But] things like the palace, the observatory, [and] the rainbow bridge all still exist.”

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Heimdall (Idris Elba) look out from the Observatory in "Thor: The Dark World"

Given the choice, most moviegoers--and possibly, most directors--would prefer sets that are built from the ground up instead of leaning too heavily on computer graphics to prove a more authentic appearance. Thing is, there’s a little something called a “budget.” And, obviously, when you’re dealing with a place as grand as Asgard, building it brick by brick would cost a fortune (and take years to complete). So Wood had to be choosy with the physical structures he focused on building for the film.

“We wanted to create worlds [or] environments that were tangible [and] had a human reference to them from our planet,” he said. “And we wanted to set that against these [mythological] futuristic technologies, so there’s kind of a yin and a yang thing going on. You’ve got this more ancient world set against that technology, and we’re just trying to find a nice balance in there, because I think it could be pretty effective versus everything being either totally historic or totally futuristic.”

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) wanders the halls of Asgard in "Thor: The Dark World"

Most of the earthbound footage was shot in London, with additional scenes taking place in Bourne Wood, UK and Iceland.

“There’s a huge action scene in and around London,” he revealed. “We feature a lot of great landmarks.”

As for the Dark Elves--a villainous group that proves too powerful for Thor to battle without the assistance of his step-brother Loki--thinking up a fresh take on their appearance took more than 100 revisions.

“I think it’s really hard in the world of science fiction…to come up with something that’s original because it’s been done a lot,” Wood admitted. “People have done it very well, so…we did hundreds of different versions of ships and crafts and all of that. [But] once you get to a space where it’s unique, it all moves very quickly.”

Because of the time needed to conceive and complete these production tasks, Marvel allowed the designers and engineers enough cushion to make tweaks and edits.

“We ended up producing an awful lot of artwork, and [Marvel executives] want to go through everything very, very carefully,” he said. “So whereas normally you might get this sort of, you know, 22-week preproduction period, you certainly get more with Marvel.”

Get your tickets now for Marvel's "Thor: The Dark World," only in theaters November 8, and for the latest on the Mighty Avenger's new big screen adventure keep your eyes on Marvel.com, like the official Thor Facebook page and follow @ThorMovies on Twitter!

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