Thor: The Dark World has been a long time coming for screenwriter Christopher Yost. But he wouldn’t change a thing.
After years of working as a primary writer for Marvel’s animation wing as well as a variety of comics’ titles for both Marvel and DC, Yost is making his live-action feature debut when Thor: The Dark World is released on November 8. Yost spent two years in the Marvel Studios’ writers program working as part of a formal brain trust of writers developing the next wave of Marvel movies, and after pitching in last-minute rewrites of the first Thor film he got his chance to write a Marvel movie on his own.
In this expansive interview, Newsarama talks with Yost about his rise into feature films, where he’s been, and what he’s got planned next.
Newsarama: Christopher, most of our readers know you just for your comics work. How did you become involved with writing Thor: The Dark World?
Christopher Yost: I was working in the Marvel Studios' Writers Program, doing development scripts on the next generation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe while Thor was doing some additional photography. I was asked by Marvel exec Craig Kyle to help out with a few scenes, some random lines here and there. It was great, I got to work with Kenneth Branagh and hang out on set for a couple of weeks… but then in my second year in the program, they began brainstorming on Thor: The Dark World.
I was fortunate enough to know and work with Don Payne, who had written on both movies, and from there eventually got a crack at writing a draft of the script.
Nrama: How would you describe this upcoming movie compared to the original?
Yost: Thor: The Dark World is bigger in every way. The stakes are higher, both for the Earth and Thor personally. We get a good look at Thor's world and travel to several other worlds that comprise the Nine Realms.
But the core relationships are the fun part, as Thor and Jane Foster reunite, and Thor is forced to work with Loki, now a prisoner in Asgard's dungeons.
Nrama: You began work on Thor: The Dark World back in February 2012 according to our previous interview with you – how big a process was this from start to finish?
Yost: It's the biggest thing I've ever worked on. I was there from Craig and Don sitting in a room breaking story all the way to the end, travelled from Los Angeles to London to Iceland, I think I was over there for six months total, both on stages and on location… it was massive. And there were people there far, far longer than me who worked on it for months and months after I was done.
Honestly, it's like a small army gets together for two years to make this thing.
Nrama: People think screenwriters write movies in their home and then just send it off and are done with it, but your story sounds far different. Tell us more about being part of this small army filming Thor: The Dark World.
Yost: We worked on the script every day of pre-production, production and a decent amount in post-production, just trying to make it the best it could be. But while shooting, things change. When you've got actors in costume, on sets or locations, blocking out the scenes… just by necessity sometimes dialogue shifts or changes. So for the most part, wherever the production went, I went. So as I mentioned, we traveled all over London, we were out in the woods, at Stonehenge, on the lava fields of Iceland… my laptop was well travelled.
Nrama: I’m told you wrote the majority of this script, but also Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely were involved, who did parts of the two Captain America movies and the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy. Can you tell us how that worked with you and them?
Yost: I'm a huge fan of Chris and Stephen… Captain America was amazing, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier is going to blow people away. It was great to have them on board, they're just good guys. They did a pass at the script early on, then it became a kind of back and forth thing.
Nrama: In addition to writing the movie, you also wrote a two-issue prelude with Craig Kyle that came out earlier this year. In the past you’ve written preludes to movies and shows written by others, but how did being the screenwriter for the movie help you do that prelude comic?
Yost: The preludes are always tricky, but Craig had a vision for this one that really helped fill in some of the gaps between the first Thor and Avengers, then Avengers and Thor: The Dark World. Craig is a huge creative force; we've worked together for about 12 years now on animated series, comics and now the movie. He's been living and breathing every inch of this movie for two years now, far more than I have. So it made a lot of sense when he brought it up that we work on it together. After all, we both know the ins and outs of the story pretty well. J
Nrama: You mentioned this at the beginning, and I wanted to get back to it. For two years you worked as part of Marvels Feature Film Writers Program, from 2010 to 2012. Can you tell us how that worked?
Yost: The Marvels Feature Film Writers Program was a hugely great experience. Not only did I end up working on the Thor films, but I got to write a couple of feature scripts for Marvel properties that we may see down the road one day. No, I can't say what.
Essentially it was a way for Marvel to explore some of the lesser-known properties that Marvel has, characters who aren't as well known as Hulk, Cap, Thor and Iron Man. In working with Kevin Feige and his executives, we work out a premise, flesh it out, get feedback, and eventually write a script.
From there, who knows… but there were some pretty exciting projects being developed.
Nrama: One last question, about an upcoming project you can mention by name. Earlier this year it was announcedthat you were writing a live-screen adaptation of Max Steel for Mattel with Taylor Lautner as the title star. First off, congratulations – second off, what can you say about that?
Yost: Thanks. Max Steel is still in the early stages of development, but it's going to be pretty great. Anyone familiar with the toys or new animated series on Disney XD knows a little bit about it… teen Max McGrath discovers that his body produces a strange, powerful energy… and there are aliens and conspiracies and action and all kinds of fun. So stay tuned for more news on Max.