Thor: Ragnarok director determined to make Thunder God more than just abs

Last week, in the midst of the snow and mayhem that is the Sundance Film Festival I sat down with What We Do in the Shadows director Taika Waititi to talk about his gut-bustlingly uproarious new comedy Hunt for the Wilderpeople. During the course of our chat, we also touched on Thor: Ragnarok, which Waititi is helming for Marvel.

One of the big questions fans have is how verbal and conscious the Hulk will be in this film. Piecing together the bits of information that have been revealed, Thor: Ragnarok looks to be a space-buddy adventure featuring The Hulk and Thor traveling through the galaxy in search of…something. Odin, perhaps? As Loki has disposed of the All-Father and commandeered his throne.

Mark Ruffalo has also teased a more conscious Hulk, indicating that the relationship between Bruce Banner and his alter ego is transforming. 

What kind of Hulk will we be getting?

When asked how that may play out in the film, Waititi replied, “It's interesting, because at the moment, there's a big conversation that's happening about how far to push that. Whether or not The Hulk should be [verbal/conscious].”

“I think a lot of those conversations have more to do with what's going to come up in future movies,” Waititi continued. “So I think a lot of those decisions are larger group decisions, rather than anything to do with just me or the writer. They have a lot of stuff that they have to consider. But I do think that's the best way to track it. I think we all want that. I think we all want to see that development and the evolution of that character. I also think you can do it in a fun way.”

Does the franchise need Loki?

Tom Hiddleston”s Loki has become an integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Some might argue that the character is just as essential to this particular franchise as Chris Hemsworth”s Thor. 

“He's such a big part of it,” Waititi reflected, when asked for his take. “And he's such a great part of it. My focus really is making sure that Thor is the best character, though.”

Waititi laughed when I mentioned that many felt that hasn”t quite been achieved yet, and said, “Yeah, well that is my goal! Because he's got to be. And it should be that way.”

Working under Marvel 

Waititi”s work is wildly hilarious, sharp, and often boundary-pushing. Marvel has a fair amount of humor in their films, but it does fall within the parameters of their created universe. For his part, Waititi feels confident that he can find the right rhythm for Thor 3.

“It's not going to be a crazy comedy, like over the top,” Waititi said. “But that”s definitely my strength and that's what they were looking for when they approached me. So, I think that is the thing I can bring to it to give it a different spin and freshen it up a bit.”

It can be challenging for some directors to go from having as much creative control as Waititi has enjoyed in his career to being a part of this huge machine.

When asked how he was managing the transition thus far, Waititi said, “For me it's about learning and having new experiences. I know the indie film world inside out now and I know how to do it. But after Thor I also have two smaller films I want to do that Jemaine [Clement] and I have written. I have a spin-off from What We Do in the Shadows. I just want to mix it up and have different experiences.”

Sitting in the center of Sundance, the independent film Mecca, talking about one of Marvel”s upcoming releases, I couldn”t help but wonder if there is a real bridge between those two worlds: the arthouse and the blockbuster. 

“Maybe it's something like me doing a Marvel film,” Waititi considered. “My voice with their material. I feel like [Guardians of the Galaxy helmer] James Gunn and I are probably very similar. That”s one of the reasons I was excited to do this job, because when they hired original voices like that I thought, “Okay, great. They do know what they're doing.””

As far as Thor: Ragnarok is concerned, it certainly looks as though they do. Look for the film in cinemas in November of 2017.