“Thor: The Dark World”
November 8, 2013
A follow up to 2011’s “Thor” and 2012’s “The Avengers,” Marvel Studios’ “Thor: The Dark World” focuses less on Earth and more on the otherworldly realm of Asgard, the homeland of the mighty Norse gods Odin (Anthony Hopkins), his wife Frigga (Rene Russo) and their sons, hammer-wielding Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and conniving Loki (Tom Hiddleston). In this film, Asgard and its warrior inhabitants are bent on maintaining peace among the imaginary planetary system, the “Nine Realms.”
Led by Thor, the Asgardians are unable to keep the realm of the “Dark World” in check, and the gloomy planet’s inhabitants, the Dark Elves, wreak havoc on the other realms when they unleash a mysterious red substance called Aether. The substance reaches Earth and infects Thor’s paramour, astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), so he transports her to Asgard in the hopes of extracting the Aether from her system and keeping her safe.
Assimilating to her new setting, Jane adapts the warrior style of Asgard’s inhabitants, says Costume Designer Wendy Partridge. Partridge developed a unique, almost jewelry-like, form-fitting armor for Jane (and Frigga), to give them a fused aesthetic of both femininity and strength. Researching Celtic north mythology dating back nearly 3,000 years, Partridge chose to model her designs after La Tène culture, “a form of artwork prior to the classic knot-like work we recognize as ‘Celtic’,” she says. “La Tène style was based on circles, compass elements. The backside of mirrors made during that time had these sorts of designs carved into their backing, and they were the inspiration for the carving in the ladies’ armor.”
Partridge referenced La Tène patterns, abstracting and manipulating them to fit the overall Asgardian aesthetic. She and her team custom built the ladies’ armor (producing leather originals before moving on to lightweight urethane blend and rubber versions, as well). Nearly 10 multiples were produced for Portman and her stunt doubles, as Jane is involved in a series of action scenes in the film.
“The armor was a little bit of a risky move, a little avant-garde for a Marvel film, but I think in the end, successful,” Partridge says. “Molding armor for a female figure is harder than molding for a man’s, and then there’s the money and time it takes to do it—we had to be particular on how much time and money we spent on it. In the end I think it gave [the costumes] a slightly otherworldly flavor—something we haven’t really seen before.”
“Thor: The Dark World” opens in theaters nationwide today.