*This article contains spoilers from Thor: Ragnarok! You have been warned!*
I’ve always been a bit upset that Thor: Ragnarok spoiled the Incredible Hulk’s involvement in the film with endless footage of the big green lug in trailers. But we get it: for marketing purposes, that’s one of the hooks they decided was worth showing. At least they did a much better job of keeping a couple other great cameos secret.
At the start of the film, we see a play put on by an Asgardian theater company recounting the plot of Thor: The Dark World from a much more Loki-friendly perspective. Loki is played by none other than Matt Damon, Thor is played by Chris Hemsworth’s brother Liam, and the play’s narrator is Australian actor Sam Niell, who starred in director Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
Waititi recently spoke with Collider on how he pulled together the super troupe of actors for the cameos.
“Well, Sam … I made that call,” he said. “Luke, that was pretty easy, I just said ‘Luke, do you want to make fun of your brother’s acting in the second film?’ And then Matt is a friend of Chris’s so we just called him up and said ‘What are you doing, why don’t you come out here next week and just do this little bit?'”
They even managed to recreate a bit of Good Will Hunting magic which might turn up on the DVD extras.
“He was totally into it, and I’m going to put out the extended version of the scene where we did actually film him say, with Luke holding him, saying ‘Brother, it’s not your fault,’ and Matt going ‘I know.’ It was the most amazing moment!”
“For me that play is just telling the audience whatever you think you knew from the other film or whatever you held onto from the other films and thought we were bringing into this, it ends here,” Waititi finished. “Those other films end here at the play, and this is a whole new film now from here on in.”
It certainly was, and based on the box office receipts and critical reception, people were very happy with the change in pace compared to Thor movies of the past.
It probably helped that Waititi was walking in on the franchise at a time that Marvel Studio execs felt comfortable taking risks. Thor 1 director Kenneth Branagh revealed to Uproxx that the entire concept of a MCU was at risk of falling apart if the original film failed. Fortunately it did not, and here we are 15 Marvel superhero movies later and things are still going strong.