While Marvel Studios' Thor movies are obviously based on ancient Icelandic tales, they take a (mostly) light-hearted approach to the material which many feel fails to capture the true essence of the Norse legends. Robert Eggers' new film, The Northman, is also steeped in Scandinavian mythology, but takes it far more seriously.
During an interview with /Film, Alexander Skarsgård was asked about his role in the brutal revenge tale and how its interpretation of viking-based legends differs from what audiences are used to seeing in The MCU.
"How this idea was born was basically about 10 years ago I started thinking about how I've never seen a historically accurate depiction of the Viking age. I've never seen a big, epic Viking adventure film based on the old Icelandic sagas that captures the laconic tone that's really harsh, just like the landscape. It started to percolate in my head about why I've never really seen that."
"I think that the Thor movies are wonderful," he continued. "And they obviously take a lot of creative freedom. They're very inspired by a lot of the old sagas and have elements of them, but they've turned into something else. I think they're very entertaining. Taika [Waititi] is a dear friend of mine, he did an amazing job on his Thor movie. I loved it, thought it was super funny, but again was wondering why there had never been a more realistic or more grounded Viking movie."
As anyone who's seen The Northman - and if you haven't, be sure to check it out this weekend - will be able to attest to, the film combines historical and fantastical elements to spellbinding effect, but its grounded approach comes with a savage streak The MCU would never even come close to.
Maybe we'll see a happy medium someday, but for now, we can't complain about having the opportunity to see such vastly different takes on the same epic stories.