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!

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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