The Thing (I) (2011)
Frequently Asked Questions
Vertebrate paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is invited by Danish scientist, Dr Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen), to join his team of international scientists at a remote research outpost on Thule Island in Antarctica where they have recently discovered an alien spacecraft that appears to have been there for some 100,000 years. Nearby, they discover the remains of a strange-looking thing, presumably the alien organism, frozen in the ice. The Thing is cut out of the ice and taken back to their camp. As the ice melts, however, the alien reanimates, revealing itself to be a shapeshifter that assimilates its prey and adopts its form while remaining alien inside. One by one, the Thing begins attacking the team members, and paranoia spreads among those remaining.
Not exactly. While having more or less the same story, this film actually serves as a prequel to the 1982 movie The Thing (1982) (itself another adaptation of the John W. Campbell story that was the basis for The Thing from Another World (1951)), as the film details the events that took place in the Norwegian camp from that film. According to the screenwriter, painstaking care was taken to assure that the prequel takes into account all the details about the Norwegians and their camp as seen in the 1982 movie. The prequel even ends almost exactly where the 1982 film begins.
Altogether 15. Besides Dr. Halvorson and Kate Lloyd, there's Halvorson's American research assistant Adam Finch (Eric Christian Olsen). Other Americans include helicopter pilot Sam Carter (Joel Edgerton), Griggs (Paul Braunstein), and Helicopter co-pilot Jameson (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). Norwegians include Dr Edvard Wolner (Trond Espen Seim), Olav (Jan Gunnar Røise), Lars (Jørgen Langhelle), Karl (Carsten Bjørnlund), Peder (Stig Henrik Hoff), Henrik (Jo Adrian Haavind), and Jonas (Kristofer Hivju) along with Colin (Jonathan Walker) who is English and Juliette (Kim Bubbs) who is French-Canadian.
Thule Island is one of several islands known collectively as the South Sandwich Islands located in the southern Atlantic Ocean between the southern tip of South American and the northern tip of Antarctica. However, the base is called "Thule" and is not likely located on Thule Island.
Kate, Carter, Adam, Jameson, and Griggs are all American. Juliette is French and Colin is English. So it's safe to say that, if they are sent to a Norwegian base, there would at least be some Norwegians that spoke English. The Norwegian crew seems to consist primarily of specialized scientists and mechanics (for research and technical support/transportation), and very few blue-collar workers (for heavy labor/service). In the film, the only Norwegian character who can't speak English is Lars. Since the majority of the population of Norway can speak English to some extent, as the primary foreign language taught at schools is English, anybody who is looking to go into a scientific field or any job where where it's likely they will need to collaborate with other countries, it would be a fair assumption that they would already know or choose to learn English. Lars, being a mechanic and laborer of sorts would not need to learn English for his duties, but as we see throughout the film, he is still able to communicate with Kate on a very basic level as Lars has likely been exposed to enough English throughout his life to pick up on some of it. We never see if the helicopter pilot Matias could speak English as he never gets the opportunity on screen. Lars and Matias are the Norwegians seen at the beginning of the 1982 film; none of the English speaking Norwegians survive.
It's a Sami song called Sámiid Ædnan. A version of the song can be heard here. They also sing the song "Jeg gikk en tur på stien", a song for kids.
None of the films give any clear explanation for how the Thing survived being in a block of ice beyond the fact that it escaped when it was thawed. However, a reasonable explanation could be that prolonged exposure to extreme cold temperatures reduce its ability to function, eventually forcing it into a state of hibernation (this is even hinted at in the 1982 film). Essentially, the logic here is that what ultimately triggered the Thing's revival was when Sander drilled into the block to collect a tissue sample, it created a hole which exposed it to oxygen and warm air for the first time in a hundred thousand years- the sudden change in atmosphere causing it to awaken.
This film sheds a bit more light on how it copies its victims than the 1982 film. After the initial attack Kate examines a blood sample in the lab and sees that each individual Thing cell will attack the nearest non-Thing cell, absorb and replicate it. Thus, given the proper amount of time, an organism will be completely taken over by the Thing (simultaneously absorbed and duplicated), one cell at a time. This may seem like it should take a long time to accomplish but the reason why it occurs so quickly is because the cell duplication process is exponential. Assuming it takes 1 second for an invader Thing cell to attack and replicate a cell, now there are two Thing cells that can simultaneously attack two other nearby cells, accomplishing the task in that same 1 second amount of time. So within 5 minutes you've got 65,536 Thing cells, then 4.3 to the 9th power in the very next second. Though when looking at the blood slide, the cell seemed to take upwards of 10 seconds per cell. Besides the cell by cell way of duplicating its host, from the inside out, the Thing also appears to be able to initiate a hostile takeover, in which it grabs a hold of its prey with its tentacles, pulls the victim towards itself and begins to absorb the victim's body completely.
When Kate realizes that the Thing can copy its victims on a cellular level, she runs outside and attempts to flag down the chopper. Jameson tries to convince Carter to keep going. When Carter decides to take the chopper down and land, the Griggs-Thing may have figured it had been discovered or soon would be. So it decided to try and assimilate all on board to crash the helicopter so the humans had no way of escaping. Or it could possibly have wanted to assimilate both chopper pilots so it could fly to safety. It is also possible that, as Griggs was the first confirmed assimilated human, the Thing's control over that form was less precise than it would later become through later assimilations. Also, Griggs' untimely metamorphosis was simply a result of that lack of control causing a "meltdown" of sorts when it detected a threat as Griggs is shown to stop talking and moving for a few seconds before the Thing reveals itself within him.
Three main theories exist in this regard (although there are likely many others).
The first and most commonly accepted theory (and the one usually accepted by the characters, especially in the 1982 film) is that either by its inherent nature or conscious choice, it wants to take over the world and transform all lifeforms; in effect, it is a sentient invader/parasite, regardless of how it got here on Earth (it could have voluntarily boarded the UFO, or was abducted by others). This theory is supported by the fact that after escaping from the Norwegian camp, it purposely seeks out the American base, starts to take over its people and even begins to put them against each other; it does not not try to use any of their vehicles in an attempt to escape. It is later theorized in the 1982 film that the Thing is consciously destroying the base, in an effort to kill every last survivor, and freeze itself again, hoping that another unassuming party will find it (but this is only speculation by the characters).
An alternative perspective is that it is not inherently hostile at all. Since a Thing seems to consist of individually spreading cells that can work together as a single organism, its is even possible that it does not experience consciousness until it copies an entire organism. That could mean that it also takes over the host's instincts and motivations. So it may simply want to survive and go home, a theory that is given credence by it fleeing to the spaceship and attempting to restart it. Notably when it first escapes the ice, it doesn't attack anyone, it simply wants to get away and only lashes out when cornered and after the scientists have already damaged it by extracting a tissue sample. In the 1982 film, the Thing has taken over Blair in order to secretly work on a crude spaceship, reinforcing the idea that the creature only takes over people out of a need to escape. It is of course possible that flying away with a UFO is not meant to return home, but as a means to spread to other parts of Earth, or even the galaxy.
A third, less likely but still plausible, theory is that the Thing is actually a form of scientific explorer and investigates new planets and lifeforms by assimilating a sample of them.
In the original script of the 2011 movie, it was made much clearer that the crashed UFO was piloted by a race of aliens that collected several foreign specimens. One of them was a Thing that later broke free from its pod, and caused a massacre among the other organisms on board. This forced the pilot to crash on Earth, to stop the Thing from spreading. However, since this information did not make it to the finished movie, the Thing's ultimate motivation is left open for speculation. It is certainly possible that its ultimate goal is a combination of theories; e.g. it was taken to Earth against its will, but like any organism, it has (or has received) a built-in instinct for self-preservation and perpetuation, which goes against its capacity for reason.
Like the Carpenter film, the actual reason is never stated. However, a likely reason would be that the heat a flamethrower creates is capable of melting ice quickly, which is especially useful in regards to maintaining buildings (a significant build-up of snow and ice on the walls or roof can cause significant damage). If you look at the tunnels walls in the excavation of the spaceship, they appear to have been melted. The crew could have drilled to the ship (although we don't really see any drilling rigs or similar) or used thermite to penetrate the surface and used the flamethrowers to widen the tunnels further. Flamethrowers could also be used to burn any trash or even human waste. In real life, some research bases do in fact keep flamethrowers for such purposes. Presumably the base is equipped with handguns and at least one rifle due to the contemporary Cold War and the close proximity of the Russian base.
There's two theories for this:
(1) Because it was critically wounded and needed some form of "life-support". Remember that Edvard was very close to the explosion of Peder's flamethrower, getting the full blast of the shockwave. It seems that the Thing's real weaknesses are fire and large explosions (also suggested when MacReady dispatches the Palmer-Thing with an explosive in the 1982 movie) and explained by arguing that the large impact of an explosion could also damage them sufficiently on a cellular level. Apparently, each Thing has the capacity to regenerate fairly quickly, as evidenced when Split-Face comes to live again a day later inside the American camp after being completely burnt. The Edvard-Thing was obviously weakened up to the point where it literally fell apart by the arms, and could only effectively defend itself with a tentacle grown for that purpose. Probably because it could not regenerate instantly, it looked for more tissue to repair itself in order to sustain the host's body. Finch's body acted as a "transplant", not unlike a piece of skin that is transplanted to take over the function of damaged skin. This would mean that the Thing is actually a disease expanding, over the theory that the Thing is sentient.
(2) Because it was preparing to fight more viciously. Although Edvard is a Thing at that time, and Things are very resilient, they are by no means invincible. Having seen that humans had enough fire to fight back, and in a desperate effort, the Edvard-Thing detaches its arms to expand itself in territory (similar to the Spider-Head in the 1982 film), while the main body looks for more tissue, finding it in Finch, and fuses faces with him (and later the entire body). Once the process is finished, Split-Face starts to fight back, in any way possible. This could be an interesting parallel with how the Blair-Thing in the 1982 movie forced its hand into Garry's face and mouth, and also fused with his body in order to become much bigger and stronger. Apparently, this is something the Thing can do when it feels seriously threatened and needs to engage in direct combat, rather than hiding, demonstrating a sentient demeanor over a merely biological struggle for survival.
Henrik: Discovers where the recently-thawed-out Thing was hiding; The Thing fires one of its tentacles at him, impaling him through his chest and spraying his blood all over Olav. The Thing then pulls Henrik's body into itself and begins to assimilate him before being torched by the group.
Griggs: Griggs reveals himself as a Thing on the chopper.
Olav: After being sprayed in the face with infected blood, Olav becomes very ill as he is being taken over by the Thing's cells. Fearing he is stricken with some foreign disease, Carter, Jameson and Griggs decide to evac him in a helicopter to a nearby medical station. When Kate tries to flag down the chopper, Griggs reveals himself as a Thing and attacks Olav. The last we see is the chopper crashing.
Juliette: Leads Kate to a room where a set of keys are supposed to be stored. Being secluded, Juliette reveals herself as a Thing in order to try and assimilate Kate. However, Kate escapes and Lars burns the Juliette-Thing with a flamethrower.
Karl: As Kate is being chased by the Juliette-Thing, Karl walks out into the hall to see what the commotion is about. Juliette-Thing impales Karl in the chest and begins to assimilate him before Lars burns her with a flamethrower. Once the Juliet-thing is dealt with, there is a deleted scene where the group goes back to deal with Karl's body. They find he had moved into another room and was about 90% re-animated before Lars torched him. The group then take his and Juliet's body outside and burn them completely. (Note: Juliette and Karl are the two burnt bodies laying nearby to "Splitface Thing" when they are seen by MacReady and Copper in the 1982 film)
Peder: Standing off with a flamethrower against Carter and Jameson, whom he suspects are Things, Edvard tries to convince him to kill them. When Peder is about to fire at Carter and Jameson, Jameson shoots him in the head killing him instantly. Jameson also punctured the napalm tank on the flame-thrower that explodes, injuring Edvard.
Edvard: Severely injured in an explosion from multiple burns, he is dragged into the rec room when his arm detaches, and he is revealed to be a Thing.
Jonas: While dragging the injured Edvard back to the rec room, Edvard's arm detaches, crawls up Jonas' arm, and latches onto his face to start assimilating him very slowly. Kate torches Jonas to end his suffering.
Adam: The Edvard-Thing impales Adam in the stomach, which seems to cause some form of paralysis. Edvard-Thing then lays down beside Adam and begins to bond with him. Adam's body is absorbed, and his face melds with Edvard's remaining visage. Edvard-Thing and Adam have now become Splitface. Splitface is burned by Kate and supposedly killed. In the 1982 film, MacReady and Copper discover the charred remains and bring it back to their base where it attacks Bennings and is then finally disposed for good by the American survivors.
Jameson: Stabbed through the lung by one of Edvard-Thing's tentacles, seems to drown in his own blood. Kate then burns his body with a flamethrower to ensure he wasn't infected.
Sander: Attacked, killed and assimilated by the Splitface, the Sander-Thing is destroyed when Kate throws a thermite grenade into its mouth.
Carter: Burned by Kate with a flamethrower when she realized he was a Thing.
Kate: Either froze to death in the snowcat or made it to the Russian research base that was mentioned earlier. A fringe possibly is that she had become infected on the alien ship and is in the process of being assimilated and opted to simply sit there and wait it out. In their DVD commentary, the writers/directors/producers put forward the theory that she returned to the camp, discovered that Lars had taken off in pursuit of the dog, and followed him to the American camp in the snowcat, arriving in time to rescue MacCready and Childs at the end of the Carpenter film. So far none of these theories have have been solidly confirmed or debunked.
Colin: Commits suicide by slashing his own throat and wrists with a straight-razor, possibly out of fear or paranoia.
Lars: Survives the events of the film. The morning after the events he is met by Matias, and the two chase after the dog-Thing. Intended to be the character at the beginning of the 1982 film who is shot by Garry; he can be recognized by the beard and the special goggles with the slits.
Matias (Helicopter Pilot): Arrives the morning after the events, where he is met by Lars at the destroyed camp. The two chase after the dog-Thing. Intended to be the character who goes after the grenade and is killed at the beginning of the 1982 film.
Much like the 1982 movie, there's no way to truly tell who was assimilated and when. All we have at best are theories:
Griggs was probably assimilated by the recently-escaped Thing when he went out to get the drinks from the American helicopter. Juliette may have been assimilated after examining the remains of the Henrik-Thing. When Juliette runs out of the examination room, the first person she runs into is Griggs. Seeing the opportunity, the Griggs-Thing may have followed her to the bathroom where he assimilated her. As a result, the blood in the shower and the teeth fillings may have belonged to Juliette. Although, if this were the case, both Human-Things would have had plenty of time to clean up the evidence (blood and fillings) in the bathroom before the helicopter left in the morning, which implies that this assimilation was done hurriedly with no time to clean up, possibly to assimilate Griggs quickly before the helicopter left, so that the Thing could reach civilization.
Another possible outcome is that Juliette was being assimilated slowly on a cellular level from within, and her sickness (supposedly nausea at seeing Henrik-Thing's remains) was really a sign of her assimilation accelerating from within her body (this theory can be supported by one interpretation of the 1982 film- when Norris is briefly seen clutching his chest in pain just before suffering an apparent heart attack- it has been speculated that this was the result of the Thing completing its assimilation, as he's revealed shortly after). She then ran to the bathroom, where full assimilation may have taken place. However, neither film gives us a definitive example of this type of assimilation—the only kind ever depicted on-screen is quick and violent—although both films hint that this is possible.
In regards to when Edvard was potentially assimilated, the forgotten component is the dog. The dog was one of the earliest infected and then not seen until the end. It is possible that while the dog was roaming around the base, it assimilated Edvard, and then the Edvard-Thing returned to the group, whilst the dog remained hidden until the end of the film. Also, the dog's kennel is the first instance shown in the film of an assimilation taking place (holes in both the wall and the cage, and blood all over). This means that the dog is also a possible assimilator of either Griggs or Juliette.
As for Carter, he and Kate were separated for an extended period while on the Thing's spaceship, giving Sander-Thing ample time to get to him. This probably occurred off-screen, just after Carter turns around because he hears something.
Kate and Carter pursue the Sander-Thing to the spaceship buried in the ice. They climb on board and the ship begins to power up. Kate falls into the ship separating her from Carter. While trying to find a way out, Kate is confronted by the Sander-Thing, and she throws a thermite grenade into its mouth that kills the Sander-Thing when it detonates. Just as this happens, Carter appears with the flamethrower and the two of them escape the tunnel and enter the snowcat. Kate takes the flamethrower from him and says she'll put it in the back. Kate then says to Carter that the reason she knew Carter was human before was because of his earring, which is now missing. He tries to convince her she was mistaken, however Kate shoots him with the flamethrower and we hear the tormented and unworldly screams of the Thing... revealing that Kate was right to conclude that Carter was a Thing replicant. Kate then gets in another snowcat and stares blankly through the windshield, emotionally drained, utterly alone and with little hope of survival. During the credits, we see the Norwegian's helicopter and pilot arriving at the near-destroyed base to find Lars. Then, the dog that was assimilated early in the film is seen fleeing from the scene. Lars and chopper pilot Matias (Ole Martin Aune Nilsen) pursue it, and Lars begins shooting at it, just like in the opening scenes of Carpenter's The Thing.
When the Edvard-Thing reveals itself and starts attacking people, most of the group scatter and Colin gets separated from the rest. He locks himself in a control room and we don't see him until the very end of the film when we see his frozen body gripping a straight-razor and his throat is slashed. A deleted scene available on the DVD and the Blu-ray disc reveals that Colin was cornered by one of the Arm-Things that detached themselves from Edvard-Thing. Colin decided to end his life on his own terms, and opt for a quick death rather than the slow painful death the Arm-Thing would probably give him (look what happened to Jonas). Director Matthijs van Heijningen has said Colin's death scene was filmed but was left out of the main movie because it took the focus away from Carter and Kate.
This is answered at the beginning of John Carpenter's The Thing. Lars and Matias pursue the dog to the United States Outpost 31 Camp, several miles away from the Norwegian camp. Lars shooting at the dog brings the attention of the members of the camp, where they land the chopper to pursue the dog on foot. Lars tries to throw a grenade, but it accidentally slips out of his hand and lands beside the helicopter. Matias frantically tries to dig it out of the snow in order to save the helicopter. The grenade explodes, killing Matias and destroying their helicopter. The dog jumps up on Bennings, one of the American camp members hoping that Lars wouldn't shoot at it with a human in the line of fire. Lars tries to warn them that the dog is not in fact a dog, but seeing as how he can't speak English and the Americans don't speak Norwegian, this was futile. Finally, Lars gives up and continues shooting at the dog, wounding Bennings in the process. At this point, Garry, the camp's station manager, responds with deadly force and shoots Lars through the eye, killing him instantly. The American team later adds the dog to their own, setting into motion a chain of events similar to those seen in this film.
The most likely answer is yes. However, it's more probable that the creature itself isn't any of the big, bad alien creatures seen throughout the films, but what is seen when Kate and Adam view the blood slide through the microscope. The Thing is seemingly millions or billions of cells that simply take over other cells and reproduce/replicate them. So, the Thing could be likened to a disease, but in a twist, a sentient disease. The simplest way to put it is that each cell of the thing is an individual living organism, and as a collective, they act to ensure survival. MacReady in the 1982 film deduces this as well. In the DVD commentary track for the 1982 film, John Carpenter talks about how, when the dog transforms, that we're essentially seeing several other organisms that the Thing may have assimilated on other worlds before it came to Earth.
The plausible explanation is that the Thing had just been thawed out in this film and had never encountered a human being before, therefore it didn't really know what to expect from them and possibly felt they didn't pose much threat. It was able to assimilate a couple of people early on but felt that humans were best assimilated by hostile takeover. It wasn't until it was defeated repeatedly by the humans that it realized organized humans can be a serious threat, and it needed to be more methodical in its assimilation of them, more or less playing chess with the humans, and divide-and-conquer them in order to try and win. This could also be explained with the dog that escapes the camp. It remains hidden throughout the film, perhaps watching undetected, waiting for an opportunity to escape. Of course, it does wind up escaping at the end, and it could be said that it had learned from the mistakes of the other creatures.
However, we have no idea how Thing replicants can communicate with each other, but they obviously have a way, perhaps through some form of telepathy or extra sensory perception. So the dog could have remained hidden but known how the other creatures failed in their attacks. By the time the dog reached the American camp, it knew how it could better defeat its opponents. There are more instances in this movie where the Thing is identified, and it has no choice but to reveal itself and take action. Examples are in the helicopter (when it knows it is about to be discovered by Kate) and when Edvard's arm falls off, and it knows it needs to defend itself from the other humans. In the 1982 movie, the Thing could go on for a much longer time undetected, but it would surface there as well when it knew it was discovered.
Another thing to consider is that the Thing revealing itself simply occurs on-screen more often. This generally happens when the takeover does not succeed or when it is detected. For example, it must have revealed itself to Griggs, Juliette and Edvard (whom are later revealed to be Thing replicants), but but we never see this, as to maintain the surprise. We see it as it reveals itself to Kate, but Kate escapes and warns the rest; had the Thing succeeded in infecting Kate undetected, that would not have been shown in order to keep Kate's infection a secret. The Thing had a lot more successful undetected takeovers in the 1982 film (probably because it learned to be more cautious, as explained above), which occurred off-screen as a story-telling device, keeping the audience guessing about the Thing's motives, methods and whereabouts. Take for example the scene where the dog-Thing enters a room with an unknown person's shadow on the wall, which implies that the Thing revealed itself there and took over the person.
On a more practical note, the budget and state of special effects in 1982 only allowed for a limited amount of transformation scenes, so keeping a lot of the Thing's assimilations off-screen was an effective way to control the budget. The 2011 movie probably had a bigger budget, and developments in both practical special effects and computer-generated visual effects allowed the makers more opportunities to show the Thing revealing itself. Also, the 2011 movie is mainly directed at fans of the 1982 film, who are familiar with the Thing's modus operandi and capabilities; so this prequel no longer needs to leave out a lot of information for the purpose of building tension, it can now visualize what the audience already knows.
Director Matthijs van Heijningen has stated on his facebook fansite that Kate originally discovered the body of the ill-fated Pilot of the ship hanging there. However, following test screenings, this idea was vetoed by the studio, and the 'Tetris-like structure' was animated and imposed over the pilot. The device may represent the source of power for the ship, because while it is operating, the ship is also powering up; and when Kate blows up the Sander-Thing, it stands next to the device, destroying it, and the ship immediately powers down. Alternatively, it is some sort of mapping device. It consists of cubes that form changing patches of yellow and blue, which may represent oceans and continents. So the device may be making a scan of the Earth and draw a three-dimensional map of it, so that the Thing can decide upon its next destination. In the final cut, it's simply never explained.
In the 1982 film, the characters come across some shredded clothing belonging to people who were supposedly assimilated. However, this is something MacReady theorized, and it was never proven one way or the other. It's entirely possible this was something the Thing didn't need to do but was something it did to create misdirection as it did with MacReady, framing him being assimilated when, in actuality, he was still human. There was another pair of mysterious shredded long-johns that Nauls finds, but we never find out who they belonged to. In this film, there was evidence of people being assimilated but no shredded clothes were ever found. It's entirely possible the people were assimilated and the clothes were simply disposed. We know one person was assimilated in a shower stall, so it's likely they were naked at the time of assimilation and the thing simply got dressed when it was finished. We see that when Henrik was attacked, he was being absorbed into the creature, this is likely where it would simply discard the clothes as opposed to ripping through them. As we saw in the 1982 film, the Blair-Thing attacks Garry and simply shoves his hand into Garry's face and bonds with him completely, not needing to rip through his clothes. So it stands to argue that if the Thing needs to assimilate someone very quickly, it may "swallow the person whole" so to speak and then spit out what it can't copy such as clothes. If the creature assimilates on a cellular level or by "bonding" it wouldn't need to rip through the victim's clothes.
The reason the movie has the same title as the first film is because the filmmakers felt that adding a subtitle such as "The Thing: Begins", "The Thing: Origins" and so forth, did not sound as reverential as just simply naming it "The Thing".
Exactly what went down during Lars' confrontation with the pilots is intentionally left ambiguous. Lars appeared to have been overpowered when he was attacked, leaving three possibilities as to what happened afterwords. (1) Lars was knocked out by Carter and Jameson, in which case they took the flamethrower from him, and he woke up at some point later on. (2) When Lars was attacked, he was taken by surprise and unable to react properly, so Carter and Jameson took the flamethrower by force. After this point, Lars figured he would be a primary suspect (as Carter and Jameson both were, and it was believed Lars was dead, him showing up again could be misinterpreted as him being infected). The next morning it was clear that he was alone in the base, hence the reason he was willing to come out. (3) A combination of both. Lars was initially knocked out and had his flamethrower taken, but then regained consciousness and remained hidden.
This does, however, bring up the question of why the Thing didn't try to attack the isolated and possibly vulnerable Lars. There are three theories about this:
1. The Thing concluded that since he had been alone for so long, he could easily draw suspicion (this has been suggested as a reason towards the theory that it killed Fuchs in the 1982 film). The rest of the team believed he had been killed, and Carter and Jameson were both primary suspects, so if he showed up after apparently dying, they could easily suspect that the two pilots had infected him. Because of this, it could be that it just did not yet see the need to infect Lars when he would be largely suspected, and only later on saw an advantage in taking over an isolated victim (namely Blair).
2. It might have seen the other humans as a higher priority, due to being a greater threat at the time. Assuming Lars was knocked out, there would not have been anything he could do to destroy it. However, Kate, Carter, and what little was left of the expedition did still have the means to destroy it, so it did the practical thing and went after them first, in which case it would have attacked Lars once the immediate threat was out of the way.
3. It may have simply had no easy opportunity to infect Lars. As after Carter and Jameson attack Lars, this is basically when all hell breaks loose and the Edvard-Finch-Thing (Splitface) and the Sander-Thing are on the offensive until the end of the movie. All the while, Lars was somewhere outside the main complex. He must have regained consciousness and probably locked himself in, armed with a gun. The Dog-Thing, which was still somewhere in the base, probably knew that Lars was extremely paranoid and very hard to ambush. Knowing it was the only Thing left (since Edvard-Thing had not returned), Dog-Thing decided not to take any more chances with the Norwegians, leave the base and try out with a new set of victims.
The story focuses on the Norwegian camp that is visited by MacReady and Copper. Here are a number of story elements that directly lead up to John Carpenter's 1982 film, in order in which they appear in the 2011 movie:
- Mac and Copper find the giant block of ice in which the creature was initially contained. Blair later looks at a picture of the Norwegians posing proudly with the recently obtained block (though this occurs off-screen in the 2011 movie; we only see the Norwegians return to base with the block of ice).
- We see Jonas walking around the camp with a video camera, documenting the moment where they take a sample from the ice-encased Thing. The Americans come across all his video footage in the 1982 film (they only view the moment of the discovery of the spaceship, but Copper mentions there is about 9 hours worth of footage, so they didn't bother to watch all of it).
- What Blair theorized in a crude computer animation in the 1982 movie is visually confirmed here when Kate and Adam look at a sample of Henrik's blood under a microscope: the Thing's blood cells infect the host cells and then take on the appearance of the host's cells.
- A blood test similar to the one suggested by Copper is brought up in this film, only to be prevented by the Thing burning the lab. The fact that the characters did come close to performing the test (and might have implemented it had the lab not been destroyed) could be what motivated it to sabotage the blood in a more discrete manner at Outpost 31 before such a thing was considered.
- MacReady and Copper find two burnt human corpses, lying a few yards from Splitface (they are hard to see due to the camera angle, and easy to mistake for part of Splitface). These are most likely the remains of Juliette and Karl, who were burnt after the Juliette-Thing tried to attack Kate but wound up impaling Karl.
- The Edvard/Finch-Thing a.k.a. Splitface is the creature that MacReady and Copper find outside burned in the snow. They bring it to their base. Splitface later assimilates Bennings, another member of the team before it is finally disposed of completely.
- The holes in the walls in several of the hallways around the base were the result of explosions and resulting fires caused by the detonation of the flamethrower Peder had, and the one that was used by Kate. The blown-out holes are clearly seen in the 1982 film while MacReady and Copper are investigating the remains of the base.
- Carter sticks a bloody axe in a wall near the door to the storage room and leaves it there (at Kate's suggestion as not to touch any of the blood on it) after killing one of the detached arms from the Edvard-Thing. This is the door that Mac forces open while exploring the ruins of the base; the axe is still in there.
- Colin commits suicide by cutting his own wrists and throat. Upon searching the base and entering the door with the axe in it, Mac and Copper find Colin's frozen body in the room behind it. A series of blood stains leading to the chair suggest that he already cut himself prior to sitting down. A deleted scene from The Thing (2011) indeed confirms that Colin sliced his wrist while standing, and then sat down to slice his throat.
- The heat blast from the spaceship's engines melt the ceiling of the ice cavern, leaving the open crater which Norris, Palmer, and Mac discover, though this seems at odds with what appears to happens in the 1982 film, as the Norwegian tapes implied that thermite charges had been used to make the hole. However, it could be said that thermite charges were used to open the "access cave" seen in the film.
- The ending of the film sees Lars and Matias chase after the dog-Thing in the helicopter and shooting at it with a rifle, leading directly into the opening of the 1982 film. Of note is that their appearance and that of the helicopter are mostly identical.
There are some homages to the original movies that fans may recognize:
- The theatrical poster depicting an unidentifiable man in front of a white desolate background and the implication of being infected is clearly inspired by the theatrical poster for the 1982 film.
- The film opens with the text "Antarctica, winter 1982" on screen. The 1982 had a title card with exactly the same text after the prologue. The movie's title itself burns into the screen, just as in the 1982, which in turn was a reference to the opening titles of The Thing from Another World (1951) (1951).
- The fossilized bear that Kate investigates in the beginning looks remarkably like the dog-Thing from the 1982 film.
- The blood test from the 1982 film is briefly mentioned, but as the equipment is destroyed at one point, the characters conceive of a crude "teeth fillings" test as a way to identify the Thing.
- While the Norwegians are singing their folk song, there is a shot of the block of ice in which the camera pans through the door and stops at the railing- identical to the scene in the 1982 film when we first see the block of ice.
- The two pilots navigating their way to the camp under seemingly impossible odds is similar to MacReady, whose guideline was cut by Nauls in the middle of a storm after he became a suspect.
- When powering up, the space ship's outside displays the blue glimmering effect that was also seen when the ship crashed in the opening scene of the 1982 movie.
- Inside the Thing's ship, the strange device seen by Kate before the Sander-Thing attacks her, could be an homage to the low-res computer simulation Blair made in the 1982 movie of the Thing's cells taking over and imitating dog cells.
- The music playing at the end scene during the credits is the same music playing in the 1982 movie when the Norwegians are in the helicopter hunting for the dog (which makes sense, as these scenes complement each other). The music that plays in the opening scene was also clearly inspired by the theme for the 1982 film.
- The scene where the wounded Edvard-Thing attacks everyone in the rec room is very similar to the 1982 film; the flamethrower to quickly dispatch the creature "jams" on the user allowing the creature to attack a few people. Also the way Jonas is "dispatched" is very similar to how Windows was in the 1982 film.
- In a deleted scene, Colin and Edvard try to call for a medevac for Olav. Edvard tells Colin to try calling the American base. Colin says "U.S. Outpost 31". In the actual movie, they mention taking a snowcat to "the nearest Outpost". When Copper and Mac are trying to decide on whether to investigate the Norwegian camp, Copper says "we're the closest ones to them"- this would suggest that they were actually going to go to Outpost 31.
- Initially, Carter mentions taking Olav to McMurdo base and Colin is later seen attempting to call them. This was the same base which Windows tried to contact early in the 1982 film, though it should be noted that this is actually a real location—McMurdo Sound, located on the Antarctic coast, which is home to a large international base.
There of course, is the previously mentioned Olav and Griggs things are never seen to have been destroyed. If Carter and Jameson could survive the helicopter crash, then certainly the Thing could have. Also, there's a deleted scene where Colin is cornered in the radio room by one of the smaller arm-centipedes, which prompts him to commit suicide. But since it was deleted, this isn't canon and Colin's motivations for suicide are presumed to be due to paranoia.
Director Matthijs van Heijningen intended a slightly different version of the film. The theatrically released version is called by him "The Tetris Version", due the blue and yelllow tetris-like structure that appears in the middle of the ship. "The Pilot Version" is what van Heijningen really intended to deliver, but test screenings and studio decisions prompted several changes, and the Pilot Version stays as an unavailable workprint. As he has said in his Facebook fan page: "Okay remember the pilot version instead of the Tetris version." The Pilot Version had these differences:
* An entirely different prologue was partially shot, showing the ship crashing Antarctica on purpose by the Pilot, who then takes his own life. Later, a crippled creature (implying contamination by the Thing) leaves the ship to attempt killing itself too in a icy storm.
- The prologue with radio signal tracing and cracking ice to reveal the ship played out differently.
- The scene where Sander convinces Kate to go to Antarctica doesn't exist. Instead, Adam is talking with Kate in a cafeteria, clearly established in New York, trying to convince her to make the journey, stating that he was among the group that made the initial discovery and that he is not allowed to speak details. Kate is not convinced. Adam states that he's offering her "the opportunity to do something big", but Kate questions if he really knows what it is, to which Adam answers he doesn't. Reluctant and doubtful, she agrees. This scene was actually shown in the officially unreleased comic-con trailer edited by van Heijningen himself.
- Sander's speech on the discovery is slightly longer, speaking on how mankind will never be the same thanks to it, mentioning religion, identity and culture as prime subjects of change. This additional dialogue is heard in the officially unreleased comic-con trailer edited by van Heijningen himself.
- A brief mentioning of Sander suffering from depression and anxiety. A few scenes involve him looking at himself in a mirror and others talking about how his anxiety can go over the top.
- Several practical effects for the different Things in the Pilot Version were overimposed by CGI in the Tetris Version, changing their original designs beyond the director's original plan for CGI post-production. For instance, Julliette transformation was much more quiet and subtle.
- The film's final act is played out differently. As Kate wakes up in the interior of the ship, she starts to walk until getting lost, finding several alien corpses, some of them burned, half transformed, others just torn into pieces. Eventually, she gets in the Pilot's Chamber. In director Matthijs van Heijningen's own words:
Kate walks in this room and sees a dead pilot hanging. He was the last pilot alive and Kate sees that he killed himself because his air pipe was cut (basically Colin in space). The back story was that this Alien pilot race collected specimens from different planets. The Thing was one of them. It broke free and killed all the alien species in the pod room. The pilot kills himself and crashes the ship on purpose, hoping that it would kill the Thing. Of course it doesn't, it climbs out and freezes himself. So back to Kate. She sees the dead pilot, and Sander has taken the form of the pilot (he has the genetics because of his spaceship slaughter fest 100.000 years before). Sander corners Kate, who pulls her last grenade and threatens to blow them both up. That moment Carter runs in and sees what she is doing and blows up the Sander Thing just to convince Kate that he is human. (he basically has no choice because if he fries Kate with his flamethrower everybody would blow up). What you see on the pic is Pilot-Sander-Thing being burned by Carter. Studio didn't liked this (too complicated and to some degree they were right) so we had to lose the backstory and replaced the pilot with the Tetris. They thought that the pilot wasn't scary enough, so we created the Sander-Thing the last minute (which shows unfortunately)... Something terrible had happened in the ship. I liked that idea because it would be the Norwegian camp in space. Kate sees the pod room and one pod being broken, giving her the clues what happened. What didn't worked was that she want to find Sander and stop the ship from taking off and still solve the mystery in the ship. These two energies were in conflict.