|Odin, Thor and Loki|
It's no surprise to learn that back in Ireland, young Kenneth Branagh -- who would grow up to direct film adaptations of "Hamlet," "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Henry V" -- fell under the spell of tales about royal family intrigue, ancient rivalry and clanging battlefields. What is unexpected, though, is that epic of obsession was by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, not William Shakespeare.
"Growing up, my single comic book passion was Thor," says the 49-year-old actor and filmmaker who surprised many industry observers by taking on the director's job on the big-budget adaptation of the Marvel Comics thunder god. "From my time in Belfast as a kid, that's the first time I came across that comic, really, exclusively, I don't know why, but it struck a chord. I was drawn to it. I liked all the dynastic drama."
"Thor," due in 2011, is filming now in Santa Fe, N.M., and stars newcomer Chris Hemsworth (who played the doomed father of James T. Kirk in last year's "Star Trek") will carry the magical hammer of Thor in the film, with Natalie Portman playing his mortal love, Jane Foster. Anthony Hopkins is Odin, Thor's father, and Tom Hiddleston plays the thunder god's duplicitous brother, Loki.
|The Mighty Thor|