Thor is the God of Thunder and protector of Asgard and Thanos could not kill him. National Geographic programming just might.
Chris Hemsworth, the god behind the God, is among the major stars on the National Geographic Channel. He’s not just there; he’s obsessively — and dangerously — there. In “Limitless,” the Aussie actor pushes his body to ridiculous lengths. Hemsworth has walked along a crane off the edge of 900-feet-tall skyscraper; swam across a near-freezing Arctic fjord; and climbed a 100-foot rope dangling over a canyon. For one episode, he fasted for four days and then had to hunt for his first meal.
It’s all a bit scary for Marvel, which shares a parent company (Disney) with Nat Geo. They’d like to see their immortal (though not invincible) hero stay alive.
“Throughout production of ‘Limitless,’ I would get little clips and I would send them to Kevin Feige and say, ‘I promise we’re not killing him,'” Courteney Monroe, the president of Nat Geo Content, told IndieWire just ahead of a cocktail party at this month’s TCA event.
Officially, there are no concrete plans for Thor to return to the MCU in a fifth standalone film. Most of the O.G. Avengers are out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe at this point, save The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).
We sat down with Monroe shortly after she said goodbye to James Cameron, another pretty major get for the National Geographic Channel. There’s corporate synergy for that one too, of course: “Avatar” is a Disney franchise. But Cameron is Nat Geo’s explorer-at-large, and you can tell the dude is really, really into it.
Happy accidents, perfectly placed pet projects, or contractual requirements — it kind of doesn’t matter. The point is little Nat Geo has been getting some major, major names and faces in recent years.
“Singularly, the thing that I am most proud of is the port-of-call we have become for really preeminent creative talent, in front of and behind the camera,” Monroe said. “It speaks to — for sure — this brand. It speaks to the creative ambition of our strategy and the types of stories that we want to tell, and are willing to tell, and are willing to put our muscle behind.”
It’s also evidence of a “desire on the part of this talent to tell stories that matter…to tell stories that are meaningful and that inspire a deeper connection to the world,” she said. “They’re proud to be a part of it, they really are, and so we benefit from that.”
This mutual attraction wasn’t the case when the former HBO consumer marketing and digital platforms executive joined the brand as head of marketing in 2012.
“That was not the type of content we were making; it wasn’t the creative talent we were working with,” Monroe said. “Even just our documentary filmmakers. We have the best documentary filmmakers in the world coming to us — we are in the incoming call business now.”
And that’s the much better business to be in.
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