Thor: Tales of Asgard Producer and Supervising Director Gary Hartle has been involved with the Marvel Animation Features line since the very beginning. In this Q & A, Hartle gives his thoughts on the final installment of the fan-favorite line from Lionsgate Home Entertainment and Marvel Animation.
Marvel Animation Age: Right off the bat, can you tell us your involvement in the new Thor: Tales of Asgard animated feature?
Gary Hartle: My job is to facilitate the script. I discuss the various scenes with my director Sam Liu, who carries out the direction with the board artists. I look over and approve all line art on characters props and backgrounds. Also I look over the color and direct any special use according to the style. When the film comes back I edit it, call retakes, oversee the mix of music and sound effects. Any drawing I do is primarily for directional purpose, unless I board out a sequence.
MAA: How did you come to be involved in this project? Was it a natural follow-up after your successful outing with (the vastly underrated) Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow?
GH: Yes, at the time we thought the DVDs would just keep coming in, and Frank Paur and I would leap frog one over the other as a new title came in. It’s funny - I was hired because of the fight scene between Hulk and the Avengers in Ultimate Avengers: The Movie, then I get all the kid shows after that... Go figure.
And thanks for the Next Avengers comment!
MAA: Can you run us through the character dynamics in this film, particularly with Thor, Loki, Odin and Sif? How do these characters interact and what kind of history do they have together?
GH: Thor, Loki, and Sif are young and are friends. Thor desperately wants to prove himself to Odin. Sif feels unappreciated even though she is one of the best warriors in Asgard. Loki will discover his true nature when he undertakes his adventure with Thor.
MAA: Thor: Tales of Asgard seems to be more of a light-hearted adventure film as opposed to some of the last Marvel Animated Features efforts, particularly the dark Hulk Versus and Planet Hulk movies. Is that correct to assume? What kind of approach, tonally, was used for this film and why?
GH: It may start out that way, but as in any coming of age story, the stakes are high and the tone of this adventure becomes grim pretty fast. Thor must deal with his own inner demons. Because of his actions a war breaks out and he has to deal with the death of a life long friend. No, I wouldn’t say light-hearted, but maybe a movie with heart.
MAA: Thor: Tales of Asgard was pushed back in order to tie into the release of the theatrical Thor live-action feature. Is it frustrating to see one of your projects delayed for nearly 18 months? Was it perhaps a good move, one that might benefit the animated feature with a possible bigger audience?
GH: I understand all the considerations that were made to coincide [Thor: Tales of Asgard] with the feature film. However, there is a certain loss of momentum, personally, but I’m sure it’s for the best. Marvel likes it when there’s a symmetry to their various works.
MAA: How would you compare this feature to the other Marvel Animated Features titles you worked on with Marvel Animation/Lionsgate?
GH: If you look at them, we tried to change each one in style and appearance then it’s predecessor. This one as the look and feel of an grand ol’ adventure. Like a story told over a fire. You feel the legend of it all. The scope is more grand. I heard the live-action [Thor] director saw it and said “ I wish we saw those backgrounds before we started our movie.” A great complement if it turns out to be true.
MAA: Are you pleased with how the project turned out? Are there any particular highlights from Thor: Tales of Asgard that you'd like to point out, be it particular sequences or voice actors, etc? What stood out for you?
GH: Yes, for the most part. I loved the barn scene with Thor and Sif; the bar room scene that brings Thor, Loki, and the Warriors Three together as a unit; Odin battling for his life against the god killing sword; and the climatic battle at the end. I’m amazed how great the overseas animation is there.
Also, there's Thor’s mentor Ander who thought he was the greatest of the Asgardian warriors but spoke softly and had a humble heart. If you look closely you’ll see he has Thor’s future helmet and cape. I almost dropped my Thor coffee mug when I realize Thor wears it in his honor.
MAA: Do you have any final comments on Thor: Tales of Asgard? Where can fans expect to see your work next? Any hints you can drop?
GH: I enjoyed my run at Marvel, and I hope people can see the love that went into these projects. I was a man blessed with great writers, a great crew, and wonderful bosses. I wish we all could have kept it going. You'll see some of it us in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, and some in the new Ultimate Spider-Man show coming out.
I’m not sure if I’m at liberty to tell you of the show I’m working on now, but I’m very excited about it. It's coming soon to the Hub...
Marvel Animation Age would like to thank Gary Hartle for his participation in this Q & A!