Taika Waititi is more than qualified to direct a major Marvel blockbuster. The New Zealand filmmaker’s movies have topped box offices in his home country, and he was even nominated for an Academy Award for his 2004 short film Two Cars, One Night. But for fans outside of the small island nation of New Zealand, Waititi could be seen as an odd choice. However, as long as the director’s Thor: Ragnarok related tweets on Twitter continues, fans should expect the most original Thor film to date.
The Thor films have always had a central problem. That is, the world and story never served the incredibly strong characters at the center. It’s why Thor and Loki are fan favorites as characters despite neither Thor film breaking most critic’s top ten Marvel movies list. It also probably didn’t help that the first Thor and the sequel Thor: Dark World were directed by two different directors with vastly different styles.
The first Thor filmed was directed by Kenneth Brannagh, which makes sense given the director’s Shakesperean expertise meshed so well with the brother vs. brother family drama of the first film. The second film was helmed by Alan Taylor, whose work on Game of Thrones again fit the fantasy aesthetic of the Thor movies. So when Marvel announced New Zealand director Taika Waititi, probably most famous worldwide for his indie comedy-horror What We Do in the Shadows, the move was genuinely surprising. Waititi’s prior works don’t necessarily have much in common with the established cinematic Thor universe at first.
Likewise, the bits about Thor: Ragnarok’s story, which now prominently feature The Hulk, and the aggressively 80s logo released for the film at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con is genuinely confusing for the direction of the film. How much of the Hulk will be in this “Thor” movie? Why the 80s aesthetic? All of these questions and more have been answered to some extent by Waititi on his Twitter account, and the film has never sounded better.
Probably most important, Waititi answers whether or not Hulk’s presence will take away from Thor’s narrative in his own movie.
However, his Twitter quickly evolves into revealing a whole bunch of improvement Waititi plans on implementing to his vision of Thor. Like the status of Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster:
Waititi on how much comedy on a scale of one-through-ten will be in Ragnarok:
On Hulk’s most important scene in Ragnarok:
And what new Loki magic we should be expected to see:
While these questions are answered in jest, it’s important to understand that Waititi’s half-answers are still indicative of what kind of director is behind Thor: Ragnarok. For a storyline which is expected to incorporate the destruction of Asgard as previewed by the insane dream sequence in Avengers: Age of Ultron, the director seems to be having the time of his life.
When taken into consideration, Thor might be the funniest character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Recall the laughs had at the expense of Chris Hemsworth’s god of thunder. From his stranger in a strange land antics in the first Thor movie, to the famous punch he received from the Hulk in Avengers, Thor as a character is usually at the butt of everyone’s jokes.
Likewise his latest film Hunt for the Wilderpeople was an exhilarating adventure comedy that felt wonderfully vast, but hilariously in-touch with pop-culture. The same combination of things Marvel loves in their films. The odd couple dynamic in Wilderpeople will serve Waititi well when he pairs up Thor, Hulk, and the rest of the extended Asgardian cast.
The truth is, the cast of Thor has always been a little silly. The line in which Thor mentions science and magic as being “one and the same” to Asgardians comes off as a little hokey, and more than Guardians of the Galaxy, there’s something about flying space vikings that just sits at odds with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And if anyone can approach this innate dissonance with the deft comedic, wondrous touch it deserves, it’s Taika Waititi.
So even as Waititi wisecracks on Twitter, it just goes to show that Marvel may have finally found a director who can harness the innate comedic energy of Thor partnered with the Hulk. All the while Waititi is a capable stylist who can capture the vast oddity of Marvel’s extra-planetary universe.Photos via Marvel Studios, Getty Images / Andrew Toth