Thor 2 missing director, has writer
Well I have to say I'm surprised and also relieved that Kenneth Branagh won't be returning to the Thor franchise, and actually I'm a little sad at the same time. Let me try and explain why I'm feeling all those emotions in a moment. The headline story is that Branagh isn't returning to direct the sequel.
Plus, one of the writers on the first film is returning to tackle the second, which doesn't mean too much just yet although since he also wrote Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer, it could be seen as a worrying start.
The reason that I have mixed emotions about Kenneth Branagh not returning to Thor (Filmstalker review) is because I really thought he did a good job, I really enjoyed Thor and thought it was one of the better superhero films we've seen, up there to rival Iron Man (Filmstalker review). It overcame a lot to get here as well, after all the very idea of a Norse god wielding a hammer that allowed him amazing powers, the winged helmet, all the mythology behind him, was weighted against the character making it on screen.
However Branagh, and the writers, brought him to life and made it work. His vision of the worlds and of Thor turned out very well and the dramatic direction he kept gave us a strong superhero film.
So that's why I'm a little sad, so why relieved? Well sequels are tough and there's the big concern that he comes back and doesn't manage to recreate what he did with the first. That's not saying anything against Branagh so much as the weight and expectations of Marvel, and how they have seemingly taken over the direction of films before, think Spider-Man and the need for multiple bad guys. The hunger to just get more of the same up there can often lead to the wrong film being made. Jon Favreau managed to turn that around with the Iron Man films, but who's to say Branagh could do the same thing?
So sad and relieved, surprised as well as he did seem to enjoy the experience and it must be hard to walk away from a big Hollywood franchise like that. Surely the easy thing to do would be to say yes and stay for a second big film?
The good thing for Thor is that Branagh has brought him to the screen without a lot of his own stamp on the character. The character is in a place where he could be picked up quite easily for a second film by another director, by a second successful film his mark would have been all over him. So really, it's a mixed bag.
Deadline have the story that Kenneth Branagh is off, also that Don Payne is on as writer. He was involved in the writing for the first film and he has the previously mentioned Silver Surfer film and My Super Ex-Girlfriend in there too. Not great credentials for the sequel, but his involvement in the first and the given fact that there will be more writers on the film means this isn't the final say.
The big question will be, who is going to direct Thor 2, and what direction will it take? Will it drop some of the big name cast and more mythical elements in favour of more traditional superhero fare?