Thor: The Dark World – discover the London setting behind the movie

Locations manager Emma Pill guides us around the UK locations that bring the action to life...


Although the production team of Thor: The Dark World headed to Iceland to find Svartalfheim’s desolate, barren landscape, filming also took place at Pinewood Studios, the OXO Tower, a London Tube station, the iconic Gherkin tower and the historic University of Greenwich building. Location manager Emma Pill reveals inside details on filming against epic backdrops, not so far from home…


Having not heard from beefcake Thor for two years, Jane Foster goes on a date with a very sweet chap called Richard (played by Chris O’Dowd) at London’s OXO Tower. The pair take part in some uncomfortable chit-chat, against the spectacular London skyline including St Paul’s cathedral, until they’re disturbed by Darcy (Kat Dennings) who tells Jane about some strange scientific readings she’s found.

The Old Royal Naval College, next to the Thames, features as the point where time zones collide and where the epic battle between good and evil takes place in the movie. Chris Hemsworth, Christopher Eccleston and Natalie Portman descended on the area last year to film Thor taking on supervillain Malekith, above we see him creating terror on the campus in south East London.

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“We have fantastic locations here in the UK, which is why American productions now head to the UK regularly,” said location manager Emma Pill. “We have a great UK based skill set—the crews, studio space and the locations we can provide are fantastic. And we’re so close to Europe, it’s easier to base out of London as a main production.”

The Thor crew and cast took over the University of Greenwich using the area between the buildings for scenes with Natalie Portman’s character Jane Foster. She looks on (below) as Chris Helmsworth’s character Thor battles it out with his nemesis to protect the nine realms.

We also see a view of the stunning University from the Thames River as one of Malekith’s gothic spaceships slices through the land on arrival, unhinging all the earth and concrete beneath. “There are a lot of special effects, stunts, explosions, rain, and wind that go with Thor,” explained Pill, which means dealing “with local councils, the police, road closures, and working with different agencies to be able to film on public streets.”

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Incredibly, the production had to shut this section of river in order to get the shots they needed. “We had to close the river that day as we brought helicopters in,” said Pill, “I think we ended up dropping something like 4,000 letters on the day to tell locals what we were doing, and to get everyone on side.”

It’s possible for the public to visit this exact site from the movie, walk around the architecturally impressive grounds and even get a glimpse of the spectacular interiors. The windows of the intricate Painted Hall are blown out in the movie during the battle – rest assured, they weren’t damaged in real life.

Humorously, Thor stumbles into a time shift during the fight at the grand Old Naval College site and is plonked into a London Tube station (below). He has to travel with all the regular passengers in his cape and armour back to Greenwich, so he can continue the battle with Malekith.

Pill, who’s also worked on big budget productions such as Captain America, The First Avenger, Inception and Alice in Wonderland, aims to film more movies in the UK. “There are so many projects running here at the moment—from Disney’s Cinderella, which I’m working on, to Into The Woods, and the new Star Wars movies, there’s a large amount of investment coming into the country, along with a lot of good productions.”  

Thor: The Dark World is released on Blu-ray DVD and digital today.

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