‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ Author Opens Up About Jane’s Cancer, Brett Goldstein

SPOILER ALERT: This story discusses the major plot developments in Marvel Studios’ ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’, which is playing in theaters now.

When Jennifer Kaytin Robinson first got the call from Marvel Studios, it wasn’t about writing the script for “Thor: Love and Thunder” with director Taika Waititi.

“I actually offered to write ‘Captain Marvel 2,'” Robinson says Variety. “And off that pitch they were like, ‘So we’re not giving you this job. We’ll pair you with Taika and you’ll help him on ‘Thor’.

At the time, Waititi was in the throes of awards season for 2019’s ‘Jojo Rabbit,’ which won the filmmaker the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, and needed a partner to navigate the tricky rope walk. steeped in history: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) battles the existential threat of Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale) with his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who became the superhero the Mighty Thor thanks to the hammer mystical Mjolnir – which also clears the effects of stage 4 cancer ravaging his body.

Robinson spoke with Variety on the “responsibility” of navigating Jane’s storyline, what it’s like to work on set with Waititi, her trust in Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige, and why she suspected Hercules was the big reveal from the movie’s post-credits scene – even though she didn’t I don’t know who would star with him. (One thing Robinson wouldn’t talk about: Who Lena Headey played in her deleted scenes in the movie: “You’ll never know. Unless Taika or Kevin tell you.”)

When you started working with Taika Waititi on the script, did you have a specific area you were focusing on, or was it more comprehensive?

I would say everywhere. It was really like: There was a really amazing plan. Then it was just a matter of digging into the plan. He was stripping back the layers and really getting into the character stuff. Jane’s story is something in which I played an important role. That’s sort of where I’ve been most helpful, I think, to the process.

How has Jane’s cancer story evolved from your perspective?

He was still there. Obviously it’s in the comics, and it was in Taika’s first draft. And then it was pretty much, you know, what does that mean? We had a lot of conversations, especially with Natalie, about, you know, we have a responsibility here. What an amazing thing to be able to show a superhero with cancer and not be afraid of the ugliness and the tough stuff about it, but also to be able to really make that character shine. A lot of the conversations were like, “How do we do this justice and how do we put something on the screen that’s going to mean something and resonate with cancer survivors?” »

Before the film opened, everyone, including Natalie, avoided confirming that Jane had cancer, but her first scene in the film takes place during her chemotherapy treatment. Has this always been the case?

Yeah. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but I think it’s okay: in the original draft, it was actually before the Marvel [Studios logo]. This was even earlier in Taika’s original draft. It was always a moving piece – eventually it became [the origins for] Gorr and I think it’s great. But [Jane’s cancer] was never going to be a hard time. It was always, like, this is the story of this woman. It’s his bow. And that’s where it starts.

How did you navigate including this real, painful story in a giant, fantasy superhero movie?

I think we always tried to look for the truth and the emotion behind it, and we really come from a human place. And not a general human place – it’s a Joan human place. It’s thinking how Joan how to handle this Joan progress in his diagnosis? I think specificity is what makes the best story and something universal. And that was specifically Jane’s story. Because yes, most cancer survivors don’t have a magic hammer they can access that will make them a superhero and give them huge arms. There’s definitely a lot of really fantastic stuff, and then you have a scene where she just tells her boyfriend she has cancer, and she’s really nervous about doing that. It’s a very human and real scene – on a ship in space. (Laughs)

It sometimes felt like there was more to Valkyrie’s story than what we ended up seeing on screen. Was there a version where we saw more of his life on New Asgard?

No. The New Asgard part of Valkyrie’s story may be a bit condensed, but that was really what was there in the previous versions. You know, the script was very long and the movie is not as long as the script. But those choices were really more on the Kevin/Taika side than on the me side.

When I interviewed Natalie Portman for VarietyIn Taika’s cover story, she talked about how Taika shoots in a very unconventional way — that he’s basically going to throw out the script the same day.

It’s true.

You also worked on those pages, of course – what was it like when you were on set and that was happening?

We worked them together. He threw away his own work! We really sat in rooms and zoomed together for months and months and months, and then we would get there, and we would say it again, and – “throw it out” isn’t the right word. I mean he Is throw it away, but the core is still there. I would say he has more – he can’t help but always try to have more. I can’t imagine Taika will write something and be like, “It’s done and we’re going to shoot it.”

So how would he approach this part of the process?

There were different versions. We would read what we were spinning the next day around a table, and it would be like, idea, idea, idea. I’d sit with my laptop and listen and just close Heimdall’s eyes and write something down and then turn my laptop to him and say, “That?” So it was a version of it. Another version is in the first blocking rehearsal, things would start to change, and I would just have my computer and type with one hand, following Taika as he moved and changed things. There’s a bit that’s not in the movie, but it was Hemsworth and Pratt going through that trench, and I just remember it was such an out-of-body experience, because I feel like walking behind Taika, Chris and Chris with a laptop in this literal trench they built that feels like you’re on a planet. And I’m just like, “What the fuck? How did I get here?” It was very weird.

And then I would say the third version of how Taika directs is that he literally stands behind the monitor, and I would stand next to him, and it would just be shouting. I never shouted. I always presented to Taika, then Taika chose what he liked. But I spent a lot of time where I had a mini monitor next to Taika, and we were just writing the movie almost in real time as they were shooting it. So there were all kinds of different versions of the making of this movie. Taika’s brain just moves at a rate that shouldn’t be allowed. It’s like, the way he thinks or looks at things and likes his ability to play, but also have total control is really amazing.

Was there ever a time when you felt like you accidentally rewrote yourself in a corner based on other things you had shot before?

No, I think Taika and I were a good team, in that I was kind of a person who was there to remind him, “Oh, take that line. Oh, understand that. He was able to lean on me in there and be able to go to all these different places, knowing that he had someone there who could bring him back if necessary. When you go into the edit, you know, everything blows up anyway. So I always tried to be there to make sure what was needed was said. Usually in a Marvel movie it’s very small things.

Were you involved at all in the post-credits scene, where we learn that Brett Goldstein plays Hercules?

I saw this at the premiere with everyone. The same way I guess Taika didn’t know Thor was coming back, I didn’t know Roy Kent was Hercules. I’m a huge Marvel fan, so I was thrilled to have a moment in the movie where I was really surprised.

Didn’t you know?

I knew we were talking about Hercules. The name Hercules was not not said in conversations that I definitely wasn’t supposed to hear, but did. So as soon as I saw the start of the scene, I knew he was going to talk to Hercules. I didn’t know who they were casting. But I was like, is it going to be Hercules? I just knew it was a thing they were like, “We’re going to want some wiggle room with this, so stay away.”

Working with Marvel Studios can be an experience in itself. Were there any big surprises for you while working on this film?

Not really. The job was to write with and for Taika. The job was to write for Marvel. I understood the work. And so I didn’t go into it with preconceived notions like, what the job was going to be, had to be, had to be. I was just kind of on the ride. If you let yourself go to work for Marvel, it’s really exciting. It’s really fun. You have the world’s largest toy box to play in and with. For me, especially since my first show, “Sweet/Vicious,” I kind of already had a brain where that was a place I wanted to go in my career. So, to get here, I was like, “Damn, I’m up for anything.” Every job, there are days when it’s really hard, where you bang your head against the wall. But there are also days when you’re in a trench with two Chrises and Taika on a stage in Australia, you’re like, ‘This is crazy. So I think it’s just riding the waves of having a really high-stakes job that’s also incredibly fun.

Are you considering working with Marvel again?

I do not know. At this point, I am very open to whatever life throws my way. Something I learned in this business is that you can try to plan and the plans will be thrown in your face and laughed at. So I stopped planning. If I get a call and they want me to come in and pitch something, and that’s something I feel like I’d be right about, yes, I’d work with Marvel again. The only thing I will say is that Kevin really understands how to bring writers, directors, executives and projects together – to create this creative soup. So if Kevin thinks I’m right about something, I really trust him, because I think I’ll be ready for success.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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