Hopkins had a long acting career, but as a true movie star he was kind of a late bloomer. He won his first Oscar at the age of 54 for playing the iconic role of Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs”. When Thor first came out in May 2011 he was already 73 years old, but since then he has had other leading roles such as Pope Benedict in “The Two Popes” (for which he also received an Oscar nomination) and Robert Ford, the co-founder of the eponymous theme park in HBO’s “Westworld”.
Branagh had a background in adaptations of Shakespearean films like “Henry V” and “Hamlet” before coming to the MCU. To him, it seems there was no better choice to play Odin than an actor with the supreme gravity of Hopkins. In the book he is quoted as saying:
“Anthony brought a world of depth, intelligence and feelings to Odin that set up the possibility of a truly touching family drama. He can be in command, but he can also be very pleasant. His human qualities have kept the powerful dynamic, but not overworked. He could convey royal responsibility while still making you feel he loved his two stray sons. “
Of all the Phase One MCU movies, “Thor” is arguably the most “out there” in that it involves gods from Norse mythology. The film tried to stay grounded, applying Arthur C. Clarke’s rule, “All sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” However, the performances of seasoned comedians like Hopkins are also a big part of what kept him grounded in a semblance of reality, even though he has costumed people in golden space armor.
“The Story of Marvel Studios” is now in bookstores.