'Thor 4' Release Date Confirmed, but at the Potential Loss of 'Akira'

Taika Waititi will return to the MCU, but at a great cost to his promised anime adaptation.

Marvel fans are getting another dose of Thor with Thor 4, directed by Taika Waititi. But it may happen with the loss of the beleaguered Hollywood adaptation of the manga and anime film Akira.

On Tuesday, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Taika Waititi, who directed 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, will return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe to direct the fourth, untitled Thor film. The movie is “expected” to again star Chris Hemsworth in his popular role as the God of Thunder.

However, Thor 4 has allegedly put Waititi’s other project, Akira, under Warner Bros., on indefinite hold. The Hollywood Reporter writes Akira is in a state of “flux,” as both Thor 4 and Akira had conflicting production dates that “began to bump up against one another.”

The film is still slated for a theatrical release on May 21, 2021, and as of now, Waititi is still officially its director.

Beyond Akira, a fourth Thor movie presents its own questions for the future of the MCU. At the end of Avengers: Endgame, Thor joined the Guardians of the Galaxy aboard their ship, the Benatar, after leaving New Asgard to the care of Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson). Thor left Earth, seeking adventure elsewhere.

With a third Guardians of the Galaxy film in the distant future and reinstated director James Gunn fulfilling his own Warner Bros. obligations on The Suicide Squad, it is unknown what shape the Marvel Universe will look like with Thor as a Guardian of the Galaxy and still the star of his own movies. We don’t even know which movie will come first.

While this has been the MCU’s M.O. for a decade, the last public knowledge of Hemsworth’s time in the franchise was for one more film, which, until now, was expected to be the third Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s likely Hemsworth extended his Marvel contract, but it’s still only speculation.

After Thor: Ragnarok grossed a mighty $854 million worldwide, it is little surprise that Disney/Marvel sought Taika Waititi once more. In his unique fusion of droll Kiwi humor within a multicolored pulp comic book universe, Thor: Ragnarok was a critical and commercial hit that reignited the Thor sub-franchise after its lesser loved first two films, Thor (2011) and Thor: The Dark World (2013).

Taika Waititi on the set of 'Thor: Ragnarok' (2017) with Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson.

Marvel Entertainment

Meanwhile, Akira is its own story. For decades, Hollywood producers have attempted a live-action adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 dystopian science fiction film Akira, based on Otomo’s manga of the same name. Everyone from Leonardo DiCaprio to Christopher Nolan to Jordan Peele had been involved until Waititi officially signed as director in 2017.

But now Thor has apparently stolen Akira’s thunder, which may yet again leave the iconic anime in the dust.

Fans will know more about the future of the MCU at San Diego Comic-Con, where Marvel Studios is set to present on Saturday night.

Thor 4 hits theaters on May 21, 2021.

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