One can certainly accuse Marvel Studios of many things: Not enough focus on minority characters, a production line-type working environment and the tendency to have their movies end with portals in the sky and spaceships falling on a city. One thing you can never accuse them of in the last few years though is in being predictable when it comes to their choice of directors. I mean, who would ever have thought to pick the guy who started out over at Troma and wrote the Scooby Doo movie to make a superhero space opera? And yet nobody could ever doubt the results of James Gunn’s brilliant record-breaking Guardians of the Galaxy. And now they’ve made another totally unexpected choice for their next thunderous adventure.
According to THR, Marvel have tapped New Zealand filmmaker and actor Taiki Waititi to helm the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok. If you don’t recognize the name it’s because Waititi is primarily known for his home-grown low budget comedies, with his highest profile film being the critically praised, utterly hilarious vampire mockumentary What We Do In the Shadows, which he co-wrote, co-directed and co-starred in with Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement.
Waititi – who is said to have beat out Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball, Meet the Millers), Rob Letterman (Monsters vs Aliens, Goosebumps) and Ruben Fleischer (Gangsterland, Zombieland) – is certainly a far cry from the previous Thor film directors in Kenneth Branagh, with his Shakespearean background, and Alan Taylor, previously known for helming several episodes of fantasy epic Game of Thrones. It must be said though that the last time Marvel tapped filmmakers really only known for small-budget comedies for one of their movies, we got the Russo brothers’ brilliant Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Whether Waititi has the Russo’s innate action direction chops is still to be seen – and based on Marvel’s director hiring practices, I’m guessing he brought something to the table that impressed the higher-ups – but he has certainly proving his comedy credentials. And seeing as the Thor movies have always had a very strong humourous undercurrent to all the
sword hammer and sandal pageantry, he may just be a better fit than at first glance.
The thing is though that if Thor: Ragnarok follows the comic book story line that it’s borrowing a title from, then this movie should be anything but a laugh-along jaunt. The original comic book story line tells of the end of the Asgardian’s world and involves Odin dying in a battle with the giant fire demon Sutur, Thor inheriting all of Odin’s power and going completely god-crazy, Loki obtaining the magical mold that made Thor’s hammer Mjolnir and producing his own unstoppable weapons, Thor plucking out his own eyes and hanging himself to attain some weird wisdom that shows him the existence of elder gods that have been manipulating creation for eons, and much more. It’s a pretty complex narrative and /Film has a nice breakdown of it if you want to read it all, but you have to remember one thing though: The Thor of the comics is not the Thor of the movies.
For one thing, movie Thor is essentially just a very powerful alien being and not an actual god from Norse mythology, so a lot of the mythological events of Ragnarok will not apply in this case. However, there is one thing about the comic book Ragnarok that could be used in the movie and which will be gigantic for the Marvel Cinematics Universe: In the comics, Ragnarok takes place during another event titled “Avengers: Disassembled” which, as you may guess, saw a bunch of Avengers killed off, and eventually led to the formation of an almost entirely new team of heroes.
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has said promised that Thor: Ragnarok is “a very important movie for us in Phase 3…we plan on taking Thor to another level,” and also more recently that there’s a very good chance that the team roster will be completely shaken up after the end of Phase 3 in Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 & 2. So could it be that Marvel have just tapped a young New Zealander mostly known for cracking jokes of vampires and werewolves (not swearwolves!) to tell the epic story that leads to that? Talk about pressure when stepping up to the big time!
Thor: Ragnarok is set for release on July 28, 2017, but you can already get the tiniest taste of it with this deleted scene from Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Last Updated: October 6, 2015