In 2011, the hammer wielding, blonde locks rocking Asgardian God came to the big screen in Kenneth Branagh's Thor. Whether you loved, hated, or felt nothing for Thor, it's set the mark for the MCU's version of Thor: rash, not the sharpest tool in the shed but honorable, empathic, and hopeful. Whether he's going to evolve from this state in [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](movie:293035) is yet to be seen.
But what if we had gotten a different Thor?
In a recent article in Empire magazine, film writer, director and producer Matthew Vaughn revealed that he had been all set up to direct Thor long before Branagh was brought on.
For those not familiar with this figure, let's take a look at his history. If you only want to hear about Thor, skip on a few paragraphs to the X-men: First Class picture.
He was originally a producer for Guy Ritchie, the man who brought us Snatch, Lock, Stock and two smoking barrels and Sherlock Holmes. Ritchie's films almost always feature crime, intertwining plots, sudden violence, and the city of London.
After funding and watching Ritchie for some years, Vaughn decided to start making his own films, starting with 2004's Layer Cake, featuring Daniel Craig. He followed that up with Stardust, based on noted novelist Neil Gaiman's best selling book of the same name. While Layer Cake was not terribly notable, Stardust was extremely well received and a financial success.
But why should I care?
You don't really have to, these are just some background facts. You should start caring in 2010 when Vaughn, together with comic book writer Mark Millar, brought us Kick Ass, the Superhero film that was both more realistic and more insane than any before it, as well as the one with the most mixed responses, both from critics and from audiences.
That's right, Vaughn helped bring us the vicious, violent roller coaster that was Kickass, though he had no creative hand in its flop of a sequel. Kickass was as divisive as it was successful, some critics lauding its unflinching dedication to showing that a real life superhero would have to be either a murderer or a fake while others spoke negatively of the portrayal of such a young girl in such a violent role. It’s interesting to note that Vaughn gambled almost his entire fortune on Kickass being a success, mortgaging his house to pay for production costs after Hollywood refused to fund it, because of Vaughn walking out on X-men 3: The Last Stand. But more on that in a minute.
After that, he directed another film that everyone will hopefully recognize: 2011's star studded X-Men: First Class.
After four entertaining but lackluster films that essentially revolved around drooling over Hugh Jackman’s abs, accent and claws, Vaughn (as both director and writer) gave us something completely unlike what we'd had from the X-Men films so far. Vaughn has notoriously walked away from three projects as a director, all of which have involved Marvel characters.
The first was X-Men 3: The Last Stand (and he left because FOX was essentially lying to him about him being the only director with the only script), which caused FOX to threaten him with law suits and his agent to say, "you'll never work in Hollywood again." His version would doubtless have featured the more adult story telling of both First Class and Kickass rather than the unendurable snooze fest we got.
Well, after the self funded Kickass proved that Vaughn could deliver hits and didn't need the big studios to fund him, he was brought in for Thor. He left this film because of creative differences with Marvel's chief, Kevin Feige, but said that parting was far more amicable. His version of of Thor:
It was about Vikings. I wanted Thor to be gritty and real, and when you have to go to Asgard the whole thing is motion captured and the fucking craziest thing you've ever seen.
As a fan of the comics, perhaps Vaughn would have given us a film that centered more on Thor's bloody past and on his journey to becoming worthy to wield Mjölnir in the first place, like the flash back sequences from Thor: Gor the God Butcher in which Thor wields a far less powerful magical axe during his younger years. This would probably have been a bit too bloody for Marvel's PG-13 cinematic universe and almost certainly is one of the reasons he left the project.
Vaughn also walked out on [X-Men: Days Of Future Past](movie:203942) to direct Kingsman: The Secret Service, a uber-violent mashup of Johnny English meets James Bond which comes out on January the 29th.