As we approach Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the long and illustrious tapestry of the MCU thus far has gotten fans feeling very nostalgic. In fact, the same goes for some of the creatives that have contributed to the 20 films that have been released.
There’s been some speculation that the roster of the Avengers will be shaken up after the smoke clears at the end of Avengers 4. Obviously right now, after Thanos’ finger snap of death, the lineup is severely altered, but we are hoping for at least a few resurrections in the next film! In the meantime, fans and creators are taking a moment to go back to the beginning and examine the process of movie magic that brought us the Avengers we know and love.
This week, Charlie Wen, who has led and worked in the visual development department on many of the MCU films, showed some early designs he had created many years ago for the first Avenger not from this world, Thor.
The most pivotal aspect of Thor’s character arc since his first film in 2011 has been his trusty hammer, Mjolnir. The decision to include Thor in the MCU back in 2011 came with the decision to open up the frontier of space into a movie universe that was strictly earthbound so far. In turn, a great deal of detail went into making the look of Asgard, and the characters and items within it, something that was distinctly different from earth but also realistic in a way. This is where Charlie Wen came in.
The artist was entrusted to make concept art for the look of Thor’s iconic hammer in partnership with Kevin Feige and later, director Kenneth Branagh. In an Instagram post, Wen spoke about the different version of Thor’s hammer that he had gone through on the journey to the one used in the final cut of the films, and in the toy production collaboration. Over 20 designs were created ranging from simple to over-the-top. Eventually, a winner was chosen, and worked on from there, as also shown in the concept art.
Check out the post below:
I promised a few weeks ago that I’d take you back to the very early days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I knew @ryan_meinerding_art way back because I’d hired him onto God of War, then a few years later, he invited me to meet with Kevin @kevfeige to talk about helping to develop more films for Marvel since Ironman was such a success. I was supposed to have a long lead time to develop the look and feel of the Avengers world years before production, which would have been incredible to have that kind of time- but I was pulled into developing the look and feel of Thor’s world first as it needed help. I began design passes for Thor & Asgard, but was asked to design his hammer (Mjölnir) first because Hasbro needed to begin production on its toy line (shortly after this, @kenneth_branagh joined on to direct the film!— huge fan since Henry V!). The first image is the initial pass that goes from more traditional to wacky. The purpose was to begin establishing with Kevin a sense of boundaries and comfort levels for the magical realms of the MCU (in comparison to the earthly ground of Ironman’s tech). It’s always necessary to go too far! In these stages, it was paramount to begin designing the MCU as a connected and cohesive universe. The following images are hammer designs that got approved for the film (and toy;). #marvel #throwback #marvelcinematicuniverse #thor #avengers #photooftheday #conceptart #charliewen_art
As Wen said, the base for Thor’s hammer had to differ from Tony Stark’s tech in order to look like an extraterrestrial weapon. This starting point of Asgard and Asgardian “tech,” so to speak, also served as a starting point for other non-earth worlds and characters from the Guardians of the Galaxy to our purple friend, Thanos.
Although Mjolnir was sadly ruined by Hela in Thor: Ragnarok, it will always have a place in our hearts. The predecessor that Thor fashioned together in Avengers: Infinity War, Stormbreaker, seems to have taken inspiration from Wen’s original designs anyways, so it all came full circle!