Costume Designer For THOR Speaks On The Process, Challenges, and More!

Costume Designer For THOR Speaks On The Process, Challenges, and More!

Alexandra Byrne, speaking on essential aspects of working on costumes for Marvel & Kenneth Branagh's THOR film, including the Mighty Avenger's cape & more, check it out!

By DCMarvelFreshman - Apr 22, 2011 07:04 PM EST
Filed Under: Thor
Source: Paramount Pictures

While the overall film has been well-received, one aspect every reviewer can agree on for Marvel's epic tale of Thor, is the visually stunning Asgard realm, essentially the look of the Asgardians. With most credit to costume designer Alexandra Byrne, the Elizabeth: The Golden Age Academy Award winner now elaborates on work for the much-anticipated film via Paramount.

With foremost praise from director Kenneth Branagh, he says...

“There’s a plethora of choices from great artists inside the nearly 50 years of Thor comic books. We needed someone of great taste to find ways that let us tip our hats to certain inspiring iconic versions of the characters, but still let the film live in 2011.”

With a working knowledge of Norse mythology, accessing her son’s stash of Thor comic books, Byrne offers...

“I work very much by looking. I flip through all kinds of books to find the unexpected and then do big collage mood boards of ideas that seem relevant for a character or a moment in the story. We were creating an unknown world and the people had to look as if they belonged in their environment. Bo and I eventually evolved the term ‘ancient modernism.’”

With Thor’s cape considered the biggest challenges, she says...

“Every time we said ‘cape,’ someone would say, ‘That’ll be done in post [production]. You won’t be able to make it work, bBut our cape does work…because we made it before we drew it. Physicality and movement are huge components of these costumes. We did not want to end up with a drawing that could not be realized, so we set up a workroom where we made practical examples along with the drawings as the design process evolved.”

“The cape needed to look both completely believable and sublimely magical. In the comic books, Kirby used it as a great graphic device for movement, tension and drama. So our cape needed that amount of expression. It also had to frame Chris’s shape and proportion when he’s not moving, and then billow, move and fly with him when he’s fighting. It’s easy to make a cape do all that in a drawing, but not so easy with a piece of fabric.”

Using wool fabric found in England, after repeated dyeing experiments, achieving the right shade, she says...

“We had a graveyard of capes that didn’t work, but we kept moving on, trying new fabrics, and different ways of cutting, bonding and weighting. We finally got it to a stage where we pronounced, ‘The cape is working. Don’t touch it. Just leave it alone.’”

During that time, with Chris Hemsworth’s physique a work-in-progress, shes says...

“He was working hard in the gym and we were tracking his body. We thought, at one point, we’d need a muscle suit to make him bigger, but in the end, he did it all. It’s all him.”

Elaborating on sequence in which thr Lady Sif and the Warriors Three arrive in Puente Antigu, Byrne comments...

“They had to look both real and unreal. One of the biggest excitements for me was seeing the warriors and Thor on Earth, because we’d all wondered how it would look when these guys start walking through small-town America. It’s almost like they should have their own theme music blaring out of a speaker.”

Two weeks from it's worldwide release, look for Thor in theaters May 6, in IMAX 3D!
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LEEE777 - 4/22/2011, 8:06 PM
He's got a cape and a HELMET!

Thats all that matters! : P

No Ultimate YAY! ; D
Tankpjh - 4/22/2011, 8:27 PM
Hemsworth has also packed on the right amount of muscle to make this work. So looking forward to this film. Me and my fellow comicbook nurds are ready. Bring on the popcorn.
Jediluke17 - 4/22/2011, 8:31 PM
This is the first Thor that almost doesn't wear a helmet. I guess pretty boy Hemsworth didn't want his face covered.
WellDrawn - 4/22/2011, 8:35 PM
Odin's got some badass scars...
vermillion - 4/22/2011, 8:41 PM
I actually don't mind the ultimate look, but I'm glad they went with the design they did. Still don't understand why so many people complained about his pants looking like "biker jeans" or whatever they were saying.

I can't wait for GL & Thor... Going to be a great summer. :D
astromerc - 4/22/2011, 8:51 PM
Wow, funny how all these Marvel produced comic book movies somehow make the costumes from the comic books work, but we look at X-Men and there production team says," It wouldn't look right.", "We want it to look realistic." "It would look goofy or stupid". Code for: we are too lazy to make it work right, and we really do not believe in the source material.

How is marvel doing this! It must be MAGIC!!! Ohhhhhhh yeah!

Okay, Singer fan-boys gimme your best shot explain this one away.
SageMode - 4/22/2011, 9:04 PM
He needs to wear the freakin Helmet more......

MasterBlaster - 4/22/2011, 9:34 PM
+1 @astromerc
comicbookjerk - 4/22/2011, 10:06 PM
I can't resist this but...I WON THE HELMET I WON THE HELMET :)
topcat10 - 4/23/2011, 2:41 AM
They made a very difficult costume look great on film, they have kept the iconic items - chest circles, red cape and winged helmet and made them look believable. stop ragging on him not wearing the helmet enough, its a HELMET for wearing going into battle not a HAT. Imagine the outcry if they decided the cape did not work and left that out!
Cross - 4/23/2011, 3:09 AM
His cape could have been better.
PrinceOfPower87 - 4/23/2011, 7:54 AM
I hope she and Lauri Gaffin would be involved in a possible Hercules movie.

Alexandra Byrne has done a great work with the costumes for the Thor movie and Lauri Gaffin seemed to have done equally well if not better in this movie, IM and IM2 in her department. I can just imagine what kind of work those 2 people would do in a Herc movie.

Man, how I'd love to see a Hercules movie made by Marvel!
mainstream05 - 4/23/2011, 7:58 AM
So she still didn't explain why the costumes STILL look like rubber? Hmm.
marvel72 - 4/23/2011, 8:09 AM
marvel studios costume design is second to none.

-iron man
-war machine
-nick fury
-black widow
-captain america
-red skull
ablee337 - 4/23/2011, 8:31 AM
@ astromerc

It doesn't make sense for a team with Storm or Jean Grey who don't wear masks to be suited up with team members wearing masks. It defeats the purpose of hiding their identities.
If you and 3 of your buddies decide to rob a bank and one of you guys didn't want to wear a mask, all four of you would get busted in time. They would identify one of you and figure out the rest of the team. So unless they decide to give Storm a mask, which would piss off fan boys also, it would be pointless for the rest of the team to wear masks.
Also a tough guy like Wolverine, who is kind of like a Clint Eastwood macho character deciding to put on a flamboyant yellow costume seems kinda gay and unrealistic for his personality. I can't see Dirty Harry putting on some over the top costume and still be a believable man's man. Most people would start laughing at him, much like the scene in Kick-Ass.

Thor is easier to do because he is a god from another world and it's ARMOR.
Iron Man is easy because it's armor and hides his identity completely.
Spider-Man's costume works because it functions properly, it hides the identity of the person completely. You can't tell if he's black or white or young or old. So there is a logic to the costume and it was a wrestling outfit originally and not something that just looks cool.
Captain America's costume is more of a patriotic purpose to stir up pride for the country and war efforts to sell war bonds.
JerzyXL201 - 4/23/2011, 9:16 AM
ABLEE337 is completely right about the costumes. Although I'm sure Marvel would've made them work flawlessly in their hands, we have to remember that in the X-Men movies their costumes were just uniforms.
astromerc - 4/23/2011, 9:48 AM
What you are writing makes 0 sense, I am talking about the fact that the characters do not look like the characters in to comic book. Mask or, no mask they do not look like the comic book characters. What you are taking about, you should have taken up with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby 30 years ago.

See what I am talking about? Non-comic book people seem to think want to put the realism in the wrong places, i.e. the costumes. We are taking about comic books, we as fans want the look to stay true to the original source matieral not what looks real. Look at the Nolan Batman movies, he could have removed the cape,and the bat symbol, not had a batmobile. All in the name of realizm, but he put where it was needed and made 0 excuses the costumes as Marvel has done.

It is all easy ABLEE337 you just have to do it!
ablee337 - 4/23/2011, 10:12 AM
@ astromerc
I've been a comic book person way before you I'm sure. I'm 42 years old and read and collected comics since the early 80's. I even worked at a comic book shop in the late 80's.

I'm not talking about looking real, I'm talking about logic and realism to the characters in the movie of that universe. I'm pretty sure you can design a cool looking costume for Wolverine if it's toned down and maybe more like the X-Force costume, but why would he put it on??? There is no real good reason for his character to wear it in the movie. It sure ain't to hide his identity as mentioned before. So he would just put it on to look cool?? That contradicts the personality of Hugh Jackman's Logan, he even made fun of the black uniforms they wore because even that seemed gay to him which fits his character perfectly. I think he would just wear his street clothes like a real man's man.
There needs to be a logical reason behind that whether it's a realistic movie or a fantasy movie. Just putting him in the suit for the hell of it doesn't work.
astromerc - 4/23/2011, 10:44 AM
My point exactly! These X-Men do not have stories that are like the comics! Which again can be done! Look at IM ,CAP, Thor, Hulk! these stories can work the people that are making them for the X-MEN SUCK @$$!!! They are playing the X-MEn On one level! they need to make it work create a universe ...oh wait there already is one THE MARVEL UNIVERSE!!! Where it works theses movies are awful.

Jackman/Wolverine never made fun of the suits, the writers for the X-Men did, he just said the line! (This never happened in the comic books) It just goes to show once again how no one at Fox cares or believes in the comic books.

They are trying to re-invent the wheel. Which is stupid!

Also we started collecting @ the same time from the looks of it. My 1st comics Superman#1 by Byrne and X-Factor 14 by Simonson
ablee337 - 4/23/2011, 12:18 PM
@ astromerc

Hey, I'm not happy with what Fox has done with the X-Men franchise either, but when they made the first X-Men movie it was untested waters for comic book movies that wasn't well know as Superman or Batman.

Yeah Blade was successful but I'm sure most the people that went to see that movie wasn't going to see a comic book movie, they went to see a vampire ass kicking movie. Hell I didn't even know it was based on a comic book character at first.

Sure, it would have been great if they started it with the real first class, they all wore masks and the costumes had a reason and logic behind it, but if that had failed there wouldn't be any sequels.

The New-X-men has been the most popular team, the one with Storm, Colossus, Banshee, Night Crawler, Wolverine, and etc.
And the team from the 80's and 90's with Rogue, Psylocke, Gambit, and etc.

If they had made the movies in chronological order, fans would have been crying about the fact their favorite characters aren't in it yet and most likely would not have done as well and end the franchise or would have to wait for X-men 4 or beyond for the New X-men to show up.

Wolverine (even though I'm sick of that character) has been the most popular character from the team. Before the movies, the average person may have not know who the X-Men were outside the comic fans, but they had a better chance of knowing who Wolverine was. It made sense to include him in the first movie.

Singer tried to include a range of popular characters from the 70's to 90's. They wanted to please as many X-Men fans as possible. That makes sense to me, not knowing the future of the movies.

Since Singer started kinda with the New X-Men team, putting Storm in the comic book outfit and Wolverine in comic book outfit doesn't make logical sense. When you can identify one team member not wearing a mask you can figure out the rest of the team, like I said before. So he went the logical route. It made sense that Logan didn't want to wear anything silly as a costume if hiding his identity wasn't important.

X-Men, with it's large cast of interchanging team members and history is much more difficult to translate then Thor, Iron Man or Captain America.

I feel you are blaming them for creating a biplane and not a jet plane first.

Maybe if they reboot X-Men they can start all over with the first real team, but the studio is making money and they are going to milk what they have going. I'm not happy about that but I don't blame them for not changing what makes them money. I don't know if people outside the comic world would accept a more traditional version of the X-Men.
My non-comic book friends liked the first two X-Men movies, but are not interested in Thor, Captain America or Green Lantern. They think the other movies look cheesy and too comic bookly. Hopefully they are the minority, but they need to get non-comic book fans to the theater too or there won't be sequels or other characters developed for the silver screen.

And I think Wolverine is kinda gay for wearing the yellow spandex even in the comics. I don't buy it, a manly guy like him would wear such a flamboyant costume.
It's barely excusable in the comics cause it's more like a cartoon but in real life it's even more ultra gay. Are you telling me you would feel manly walking around in a yellow spandex and those flamboyant boots that Wolverine wears in public? I would feel pretty gay, but maybe it's just me.

I lost faith in Singer after Superman Returns, but I'm not gonna crucify him for the first 2 movies. It was a different time. I'm sure if they just now started to make X-Men movies, it would much closer to the comics.

p.s. My first comic I started collecting and bagging was the original Secret Wars. I got suckered into the comic scene when they gave Spider-Man the new black costume and change the Hulk gray and had Steve Rogers quit and adopt the US Agent costume.
I didn't like Thor's new costume.
I believe the Byrne Superman was in the late 80's cause I remember it when it came out while I worked at the Wizard of Comics. Close enough I guess.
ablee337 - 4/23/2011, 12:45 PM
I guess Secret Wars was 1984 and Byrne's Superman was 1986. Man at the time it seemed liked it was much further apart. I guess I worked at the comic shop in the mid 80's and not the late 80's. Memory not as good at my old age. :(
Blackmatter - 4/23/2011, 6:55 PM
The Superman #1 by Byrne that u speak of had an appearance by Metallo, right? If so I have that one as well
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