Thor: Ragnarok might be the most visually dynamic film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far, in part because each character is so distinctive. Thor looks nothing like The Grandmaster, and Valkyrie looks nothing like Loki. Nothing feels generic, and it creates a very rich world for director Taika Waititi's cosmic amusements to unfold in.
Like most major blockbusters, that starts with concept art. Even before the actors are cast, artists are sitting in a studio and mapping out all of the various ways to depict these characters. That often means multiple designs, which often means many different looks wind up on the rejection pile. This week, a pair of artists who worked on the film shared a couple, including a rejected look for the demon Surtur and a very different version of the Asgardian Valkyrie.
First up, there's the Surtur design, provided by senior illustrator Jackson Sze. He still looks very demonic, but rather than the more organic, fiery look that wound up in the finished film, Sze tried for an armored demon with horns that are almost entirely horizontal. It's still a very cool look, but if it had made it into the film it may have looked almost too similar to Ares in Wonder Woman.
Then there's the Valkyrie design, which is an even bigger departure from Tessa Thompson's final look in the film. The armor is a bit darker, and quite a bit heavier, including a helmet similar to what Thor ended up wearing. Plus, the cape is quite a bit more ornate, and made to look like wings to symbolize a Valkyrie in flight. It's a cool look, but it feels more fantasy than sci-fi, and it wouldn't have meshed well with Tessa Thompson's stripped down space scoundrel performance. Check it out.
This is a fun little peek into what the process of getting Ragnarok's very distinctive look down, and it would be particularly interesting to see what early designs of characters like Grandmaster were like.