BEWARE, SPOILERS: This story discusses major plot events in Marvel Studios’ Thor: Love and Thunder currently in theaters.
When Jennifer Caitin Robinson first got the call from Marvel Studios, it wasn’t about writing Thor: Love and Thunder with director Taika Waititi.
“I was actually going to write Captain Marvel 2,” says Robinson. Diversity. “And outside of that field, they said, ‘So we don’t give you this job. We’re going to pair you with Taika, and you’ll help him in Thor.
At the time, Waititi was in the throes of the 2019 Jojo Rabbit awards season, which brought the director an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, and he needed a partner to work through the film’s delicate story walk: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) struggles with the existential threat of the Butcher God Gorr (Christian Bale) with his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who became the superhero Mighty Thor with the help of the mystical hammer Mjolnir, which also erases the effects of the devastating stage 4 cancer. her body.
Robinson spoke to Diversity about being “responsible” for navigating Jane’s storyline, what it’s like to be on set with Waititi, her trust in Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige, and why she suspected Hercules was the big reveal in the film’s post-credits scene — even if she doesn’t know who will play it. (One thing Robinson wouldn’t discuss is who Lena Headey played in the film’s deleted scenes: “You’ll never know. Unless Taika or Kevin tells you.”)
When you started working with Taika Waititi on the script, did you have any particular area that you focused on, or was it more of everything?
I would say everything. It really looked like it was a really amazing project. Then it remained only to dig into the scheme. It pushed back the layers and really got to the core of the character. Jane’s story was something I had a big hand in. I think this is where I was most helpful to the process.
How, in your opinion, did the storyline with Jane’s cancer develop?
He has always been there. Obviously it’s in the comics, and it was in the first draft of Taika. And then it was just oh, you know what that means? 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 really shy away from his ugliness and the complexities that come with it, but also to really be able to show that character a glow. A lot of the conversations were, “How do we give credit and how do we put something on the screen that will 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 is during chemotherapy treatment. Has it always been like this?
Yeah. I don’t know if I can say this, but I think it’s okay: in the original draft, it was actually pre-Marvel. [Studios logo]. This was even earlier in the original draft of Taiki. It was always a moving part – eventually it became [the origins for] Gorr and I think it’s amazing. But [Jane’s cancer] was never going to be caught in the moment. It has always been like this woman’s story. This is her arch. And this is where it starts.
How did you manage to incorporate this real and painful storyline into a giant fantasy superhero movie?
I think we’ve just always tried to find the truth and the emotion behind it and really come from the human condition. And not a universal place – it is Jane human place. He thinks how Jane deal with it like Jane go through diagnostics? I think specificity is what makes a great story and something that is versatile. And that was specifically Jane’s story. Because yes, most cancer survivors don’t have a magic hammer they can access that would make them superheroes and give them huge arms. There’s definitely a lot of really fantastic stuff in there, and then you have a scene where she just tells her boyfriend that she has cancer and she’s really nervous about it. It’s a very human, real scene – on a boat in space. (laughing)
Sometimes it seemed that there was more to the story of the Valkyrie than what we saw on the screen. Was there a version where we saw more of her life in New Asgard?
No. The New Asgard part of Valkyrie’s story may be a bit condensed, but that’s really what was in the earlier drafts. You know, the script was very long and the movie is not as long as the script. But this choice was more on Kevin/Taika’s side than on my side.
When I interviewed Natalie Portman for DiversityIn the cover story, she talked about how Taika shoots in a very unorthodox way—that he would essentially throw the script away the same day.
Of course you also worked on those pages – what was it like when you were on set and what was going on?
We worked on them together. He threw away his work! We really sat together in rooms and zooms for months and months and months, and then we got there, rehearsed, and “throw away” is not the right word. I mean he does throw away and the core is left. I would say that he is positive – he cannot but try to always be positive. I can’t imagine that Taika will ever write something and say, “It’s done and we’ll film it.”
So how would he approach this part of the process?
There were different versions. We read at the table what we shot the next day, and it was like an idea, an idea, an idea. I would sit with my laptop and listen and just close Heimdall’s eyes and write something and then turn my computer to him and say, “This?” So this was one of the versions. The other version was on the first block rehearsal, things started to change and I just took my computer and typed with one hand, following Taika as he moved things and changed things. There’s a little bit that isn’t in the movie, but it was Hemsworth and Pratt walking through that trench and I just remember it was such an out-of-body experience, like I’m walking behind Tyka and Chris and Chris with a laptop in that trench they literally built. , which looks like you’re on a planet. And I’m like, “What the fuck? How did I get here?” It was very strange.
And then I would say, the third version of how Taika directs is that he is literally standing behind the monitor and I am standing next to him, and it just screams something. I never screamed. I always proposed to Taika and then Taika chose what he liked. But I had a lot of time when I had a mini-monitor next to Taika and we just wrote the movie almost in real time while it was being shot. So there were a variety of versions of the creation of this film. Taiki’s brain just moves at a pace that shouldn’t be allowed. It’s like the way he thinks or looks at things and he loves his ability to play but also have total control, it’s really amazing.
Was there ever a moment when you felt like you accidentally painted yourself into a corner based on other footage you’ve filmed before?
No, I think Taika and I were a good team, in the sense that I was the person who was there to remind him, “Oh, get that line. Oh get it. He could lean on me for it and he could go to all these different places knowing that he had a person there who could bring it back if needed. When you get into a montage, you know it all blows up anyway. So I always tried to kind of be there to make sure that what needed to be said was said. Usually in Marvel movies, these are very small things.
Did you even participate in the post-credits scene where we find out that Brett Goldstein is playing Hercules?
I saw it at the premiere with everyone else. Just like I think Taika didn’t know about Thor’s return, I didn’t know that Roy Kent was Hercules. I’m a big Marvel fan, so I was glad that there was one moment in the movie where I was really surprised.
You didn’t know anything about it?
I knew what they said about Hercules. The name Hercules was not No said in conversations that I definitely, probably, should not have heard, but I heard. So the minute I saw the beginning of the scene, I knew he was going to be talking to Hercules. I didn’t know who they chose. But I thought it would be Hercules? I just knew what they were saying, “We need leeway, so stay away from that.”
Working with Marvel Studios can be a standalone experience. 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 wasn’t going to do it with any preconceived notions about what the job should be, what it should be, what it should be. I was just on a trip. If you just give yourself to work for Marvel, it’s really exciting. It’s really interesting. You have the biggest toy box in the world to play in. As for me, especially after my first show Sweet/Vicious, I kind of realized that this is the place where I would like to go in my career. So to get here, I just thought, “Damn, I’m in, whatever it is.” There are days in every job when it’s really hard, when you’re banging your head against the wall. But there are days when you’re in the trenches with the two Chriss and Taika on stage in Australia and you’re like, “This is crazy.” So I think it’s just riding the waves of a very high stakes job that’s also incredibly fun.
Do you expect to work with Marvel again?
I dont know. At the moment I am very open to everything that life takes me. Something I have learned in this business is that you can try to plan and the plans will be thrown in your face and you will be laughed at. So I stopped planning. If I get a call and they want me to come in and offer something, and that’s what I feel like I’m qualified for, yes, I’ll be working with Marvel again. The only thing I will say is that Kevin really understands how to bring writers, directors, executives and projects together – creating this creative soup. So if Kevin feels I’m right about something, I have a lot of confidence in him because I think I’ll be set to succeed.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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