THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER Interview: Concept Artist Andy Park On The Mighty Thor And Thor's New Suits (Exclusive)

Marvel Studios Director of Visual Development Andy Park talks about designing the costumes worn by The Mighty Thor and Thor in Love and Thunder, while also discussing Hercules, Scarlet Witch, and more!

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Thor: Love and Thunder was a visual delight, with moments that looked like they had been torn straight from the pages of the comic books. At the heart of making those moments a reality is Marvel Studios Director of Visual Development and concept artist Andy Park.

He's been with Marvel Studios since Captain America: The First Avenger, and is responsible for many of the most iconic costumes and moments we've seen in the MCU. Aside from Thor: Love and Thunder, Andy has recently worked on the likes of Black Widow, WandaVision, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and 2023's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

Talking to us about his work on Thor: Love and Thunder to coincide with its home entertainment release, Andy breaks down the process of bringing The Mighty Thor and Thor's comic book costumes - and helmets - to the big screen. The artist also discusses his comic book inspirations, and how Marvel Studios handles comic-accurate designs. 

That includes reflecting on the Scarlet Witch's evolution, and the joy he took in designing the MCU's Hercules for his debut in this blockbuster's standout mid-credits scene.

Check out our full interview with Andy about his latest MCU work below:
 


The Mighty Thor costume from the comics is awesome, but also quite a simple design in that it is primarily a silver chest piece. Did you play around with that at all or was it always the plan to bring the costume more in line with the MCU’s Thor?

It is silver, isn’t it? [Laughs] Sometimes, we do a whole range from the comic accurate to versions I did where it was a dark, not black armour, but kind of. Our job in the Visual Development department is to give them options. We’re going to do the more comic-accurate ones, but I did ones there - and I don’t know how to describe it - but they had that top part and a separation around the ribcage with all these rivets and everything. I did other versions more in line with the MCU and the original Thor and that’s the one they pivoted more towards. I even did one that had the collar that the comic books have, but again, they picked the one more along the lines of the MCU version. That’s our job: give them the range and then, based on having their notes and what they like, we start fine-tuning to finalise that final design. I did versions giving her the armoured arms or once sleeve like in the comics, but at the end of the day, Taika wanted to have both of Jane’s arms - her guns - showing. That was not a wrong decision!

Taika Waititi brought a lot of colour into the franchise with Thor: Ragnarok, so did he push for that Walt Simonson-inspired blue and gold for Thor or was that a costume you’d been waiting to suggest?

You know what, I don’t think Taika ever mentioned the God Armour from the mid-80s specifically. He just said, ‘I want an extreme version of Thor.’ Knowing the story that, essentially he sees Jane and doesn’t want to be one-upped by her and becomes a little insecure, that’s why he looks that way. For me, I grew up in the 80s reading Marvel Comics. That’s my period, the mid-80s. I remember that armour. Bright blue and gold and everything was big and ostentatious. His cape was bigger than ever! That was my inspiration, so I took that and ran with it. Also, with the language of the MCU, we did all different versions of that. How much metal? Everything, even down to how he transforms from a more toned-down version of that to a very extreme version of that. I did some animations showing how, in the beginning, he would have only one shoulder piece, but once he transforms after seeing Jane, now he has four and more gold than ever, every piece gets bigger, the cape gets longer, the helmet goes, and in the animation, I even made his hair grow a little longer at the end. Not all that stuff made it into the film, but that’s the process. It’s really fun presenting those things in a big room with Taika and all the execs and seeing their reactions.

Jane does get to wear her helmet a lot in this film, and Thor also briefly dons one, but what did you enjoy most about designing those?

Because I’m a comic book fan, any time I get to do helmets, that’s some of the most fun. At the end of the day, I’m a kid reading comic books and it’s all about their secret identity and hiding that with some sort of mask or helmet. When you’re a kid, you put on a mask. There aren’t a lot of helmets in the MCU. Anytime you get a chance to do that, it’s really fun, so getting to do the Jane and Thor helmets was great. It’s always fun playing off a design, so when I’m designing the Jane as Mighty Thor helmet moment, I’m also designing Thor’s extreme helmet. Comparing and contrasting. Obviously, Jane’s will be mainly silver with the burgundy colour, but with Thor, it’s pretty much all gold and a lot of blues here and there. That’s a lot of fun. 

Thor gets a very cool black and gold costume for that final scene in the film; can you talk us through what the thought process was behind that particular design? 

You know what, I’ve been meaning to look into it, but as far as I know it’s the same costume! I’m not 100% if it’s black and gold because if that happened, it was in VFX during post when they’re filming and editing. Maybe there was a decision then to make it black and gold, but to me, I saw it as the same costume. I don’t know, I could be wrong [Laughs].

I think I need to go and check my TV settings.

[Laughs] It wasn’t a daytime setting so it wasn’t so contrast-y, but as far as I know, it’s the same costume. 

You’ve now been able to take two characters, Scarlet Witch and the Mighty Thor, down incredibly comic-accurate routes with their costumes. These movies have always stuck to those, but now the MCU is so successful, is it becoming easier to borrow ideas from the source material in ways we might not have seen a few years ago? 

You know, I’ve heard some internet chatter with people saying that in recent times [the costumes] are more comic accurate, but I don’t know. Since I’ve been working here from 2010, I worked on the first Captain America and then pretty much everything since. I feel like we’re just doing the same thing we’ve always done. When I see some of the early costumes, they’re quite comic accurate from Captain America to Iron Man to Hulk to Thor [Laughs]. Even Black Widow and Hawkeye. A lot of the originals are pretty comic-accurate. Of course, there is going to be some characters throughout the years that veered away from some of that. You could say Ant-Man is quite a departure from the original comics. For me, I feel like we’re continuing what it is. There’s no mandate saying, ‘Oh, let’s be more comic accurate through the years.’ There’s nothing like that and, to me and the filmmakers, nothing had changed.

Really, it comes down to two things. The filmmaker and the script. Something like Scarlet Witch, I worked on Avengers: Age of Ultron and I was working on her designs. Because I’m a fan and read comics in the 1980s, the first thing I did without reading a script was a comic-accurate version. I did it and then I read the script and went, ‘There’s no way they’re going to pick this. It doesn’t make sense. She’s not a superhero or a supervillain; she’s just a Sokovian.’ I did it with the crown and, of course, in that meeting, they said, ‘Nice try, It doesn’t make sense.’ The fan in me was disappointed that she just wears a red jacket, but it’s a nod to the comics through real-world clothing. Then, I did an updated design in Civil War and then when we got to WandaVision, that’s when I read the script and talked to the producer Mary Livanos and was like, ‘There’s a plan, right? There’s a reason now we get to see this? She was never called the Scarlet Witch. It was always Wanda Maximoff and now she becomes the Scarlet Witch.’ 

That’s not comic-accurate. That’s not how things went. She was called Scarlet Witch from the get-go, but the genius of what Kevin [Feige] and these creators do, and we help contribute to that, is seeing this fuller journey where she becomes Scarlet Witch and it justifies why she has a comic accurate costume. It becomes more valuable than if we just saw from the get-go wearing this Scarlet Witch costume we see in WandaVision and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Nothing has really changed to answer your question [Laughs]

I have to ask about Hercules; was he someone you worked on for this project and, if so, what can you tell us about creating his first live-action costume?

I got to design that one which was really fun because Brett, before I designed it, I had just finished watching him in Ted Lasso [Laughs]. I love that show and the first time I saw he was this character I said, ‘Oh my gosh, he’s going to play Hercules?’ I went to designing that and, again, growing up in the 80s and 90s with Marvel Comics, he was part of The Avengers. Anytime we get to introduce a new character in the MCU, every single time we’ve done that, while I’m painting and designing, I’m just like a kid again and I need to stop myself after a while because it’s not guaranteed that you’ll be the one to design it and there are a lot of artists here who do amazing work. Just the fact that you’re contributing and doing designs for that character is really fun. It becomes a question of every time we do a design, ‘How comic accurate can you be?’ I did a lot of different versions and one got picked. We got to see it in the end credits and that was such a treat to be able to see that and also fun to be in the audience whether it was in the premiere or when I watched it after with a regular audience to see the reaction. That’s always the final cherry on top.

Thor: Love and Thunder is now available on Digital and will be available on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD September 27.
 


 

 

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