Taika Waititi has some really great things to say about how he specifically wanted to diversify the cast of his upcoming Marvel feature, Thor: Ragnarok.
Waititi has already weighed in on some Marvel drama – a.k.a. which team would Thor have sided with in Captain America: Civil War – but Comic Book Resources caught up with the director about his work on Thor: Ragnarok while he was promoting his current release Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
Creed's Tessa Thompson joined the Thor: Ragnarok cast back in April but we didn't know who she'd be playing until Marvel announced her as Valkyrie. It was a casting specifically meant to diversify, according to Waititi and thankfully, unlike other similar instances, it wasn't met with a racist backlash.
Right from the start we wanted to diversify the cast, and it”s hard when you”re working with Vikings. [Laughs.] You want to be more inclusive and provide a broader representation. And at that point, you have to look at the source material as a very loose inspiration. And then take it from there and go with your gut. Say, “You know what? None of that stuff matters. Just because the character was blonde and white in the comic book. That doesn”t matter. That”s not what [that character] is about.”
People forget that. Die-hard fans will say, “That”s not really authentic to the comics,” but as soon as they watch the movie, and they”re involved in the story, and actually what”s happening, everybody forgets. The fact that we even have to keep having this conversation is ridiculous, because we keep forgetting. Unless it”s the topic of the film, it just shouldn”t even be – what do we even care?
I think the story is king, and you want the best person for the job. And Tessa tested against – we cast a very broad net, and Tess was the best person.
The director has spoken about the need to cast more POC and women in major roles but it's great to hear him spell it out in this way. I write about these kinds of issues often and so many people still don't get why representation is important. Thankfully, Hollywood is starting to listen.
You may recall fellow Marvel actor Idris Elba was the recipient of racist backlash when he was cast as Norse God Heimdall in Thor but when discussing his recent casting as Roland in The Dark Tower he had this to say:
“It”s better just to treat it like no big deal. There should be no difference. The character that was written in Stephen”s imagination, it could be any color. It just happens to be me and, you know? In the artwork, it just so happens to be a white guy, but I don”t think that makes any difference. … I think what”s great about it, if I want to say anything about it, is that it is a sign of the times in terms of a colorless society. People go, ‘A good actor is a good actor,” you know?”
Waititi also told CBR he thinks inclusive casting and better representation is just “more interesting.” “There”s so many beautiful cultures everywhere,” he added, “I think you should use them.”