Hello again from London.
The Kapow! Comic Con has just finished its day 1 here in Islington, and they saved the best til last. Those 500 or so of us lucky enough to squeeze into the baking hot main auditorium were treated to 3 separate Thor clips, and as far as I know, none of them have been seen before. Best of all, the first one we saw was a staggering 20 minutes long. When it was announced that we'd be seeing the clips in 2D, rather than the eventual 3D, a cheer arose from the crowds.
There are some people who would be upset about seeing this much of a movie before actually seeing the whole thing in the cinema - but for me Thor has actually been probably my least anticipated film of the summer - so I wasn't too bothered about watching this. Although my bag, my phone, my laptop, my camera and very nearly my wallet were all confiscated before going in to see the footage, I managed to scribble down some notes about what I saw in the dark using good old fashioned pen and paper - so here goes (spoilers abound I'm afraid)...
Clip 1 started by showing us a bit more of scenes we're all used to seeing now from previous footage: Thor's thundering argument with Odin, him being cast out of Asgard, and landing in the path of Natalie Portman's truck in New Mexico. We see Thor's encounter and tasering from Portman's friend, which we've seen before. As the truck drives away with the unconscious Thor inside, we see the hammer crash land in the distance, some miles away. Thor wakes up in hospital, and although he initially can't break out of his restraints, he manages to get out (we don't see the full hospital breakout). The focus then moves to the ginourmous hammer crater, which is found by a farmer type in his red pickup. He tries to pull the hammer out of the rock in which it is embedded, but can't. The man obviously ends up inviting his friends to try too, and we see a sequence of tough guys failing to extract hammer from stone. One of them attaches a cable to his truck, but the cable snaps off. Zoom into the driver's face and it's..... Stan Lee! (cue much cheering from the audience).
We then saw a clip of the diner scene, most of which is material that's already out there - Thor smashing the coffee cup and so on - but we also see that he overhears some men talking about the hammer and that no one can pull it from the ground. He demands to know where they saw it - and they tell him. Cut to the hammer location, around which agent Coulson and his SHIELD agents have now built a network of lit up tunnels (E.T. style), bridges and military stuff. Natalie Portman's character has driven Thor to the location. What follows was the pick of tonight's footage. Thor breaks into the facility using pure human strength and proceeds to kick the asses of a number of guards. The men on the base are getting pretty scared, so agent Coulson makes a call to someone he thinks can help. We see the hand of the man who he's called, who initially reaches for a gun to deal with the threat, but thinks better of it, and picks up a bow and arrow instead...
Everyone around me went pretty nuts when Jeremy Renner appeared on the screen as Hawkeye. He was wearing I guess military style clothes, and called agent Coulson 'sir'. He was ordered to train his arrow on Thor, but was never ordered to fire it. Coulson wanted to see what happened when Thor got to the hammer. What happens is that Thor isn't strong enough to pull it out of the ground either. Thor falls to his knees in despair, screaming into the sky (and to his father): "WHY!!???!!"
Clip 2 was much shorter, and showed the mischievous Loki as the new king of Asgard, after Odin falls into his sleep. Loki speaks to a number of members of the court, all of whom clearly disagree with his decisions and the fact that he has become king in the first place, but he makes it clear that he is now boss. It's so hard to not make Asgard and the helmets and everything look stupid, and in many photos I've seen up to this point I really wasn't sure. But somehow they've managed to make it look like it makes sense when you see it on the big screen. But only just.
Clip 3 showed Thor in a SHEILD interrogation room, where he is visited by Loki, who appears out of nowhere dressed in normal human clothes. Loki tells Thor that his father has died, and that Thor's exile from Asgard is going to be permanent. Thor cries. Loki then goes outside to where the hammer is still stuck in the ground, and confidently tries to pull it out himself. He can't, so he's obviously unworthy, and he's obviously pretty annoyed about that.
That was the end of the section of video clips, and to a very warm welcome from the crowd Tom Hiddlestone and Chris Hemworth walked on stage. Anyone who's seen the trailer knows how big Hemsworth is, but it's still pretty astounding. He is massive. Each one of his shoulders is about as big as my bathtub. He's also amazingly nice, with his easy-going, very humble, Aussie mannerisms. He explained that he had been having a tough time career-wise before Thor came along, and was on the verge of packing his bags and heading back down under when he got the call.
Turns out that both actors saw the finished film for the first time last night, so it was really fresh in their minds. They spoke about how, despite its fantastical themes and obviously other-wordly palette, in the end the movie works because it is about relationships between brothers and sons, brothers and brothers, and people. Tom said that was the way they humanised Thor as actors. Chris said that Kenneth Branagh was very passionate about the film from the beginning, keen to be true to both the comics and to the Norse legends. He described how Branagh (he calls him 'Ken') reduces each scene to its "barest, most intense elements" in order to keep it grounded in real human experience as much as possible.
Of course, it wasn't long before questions turned to The Avengers, but both actors had obviously been well briefed to stay well away from the topic. All that Chris would give us is that they start production in early May, and that he's met up with Joss Whedon several times already. He says the director has some 'amazing ideas' about where to take the character of Thor next, and that it will open up more options for him. Tom wouldn't be drawn into saying whether he'd have a role in the ensemble piece, but it seems pretty clear that he won't.
Something I didn't know before is that Tom got quite far down the line in the auditions for Thor himself, but he says that having seen the finished article he "couldn't have done what [Chris] managed to do with the part - the athleticism, the intensity and the arrogance". Chris kindly came back by saying that "I couldn't have played Loki. He's too intelligent."
As for the other actors in the film, Chris claims that Anthony Hopkins gives "one of the great performances of his life" in Thor. Let's hope that's true.
Chris ended by telling us that he tried to steal one of the hammers they used in filming, but missed his chance. But he says he'll be quicker next time.