Movies

Taika Waititi On Why He Needed Thor To Find Love In ‘Thor: Love And Thunder’

Taika Waititi, as he says ahead, enjoys “playing” with fans’ expectations of what a Thor movie should be. After Thor: Ragnarok (which came out, somehow, five years ago now), he’s certainly cracked the code on how to make a Thor movie. Waititi’s Thor is less “stoic god” and more “lovable lunkhead,” which makes this iteration of Chris Hemsworth’s Thor extremely endearing. (And having an actor like Hemsworth who can look the part, but also be hilarious, certainly helps.) So for Waititi, the obvious next step, in Thor: Love and Thunder, was to have Thor go through a midlife crisis and reassess his feelings on love.

Which means Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is back. And, following a similar arc from the comics, Thor’s old weapon, the hammer Mjölnir, calls out to Jane (there’s also a love triangle in this movie between Thor, Mjölnir, and Thor’s new weapon, Stormbreaker), which results in her becoming Mighty Thor. So she joins Thor, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and Korg (Waititi) on a galaxy-spanning adventure to stop Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale) from killing all the gods in the galaxy (which would include Thor). But, as comic fans know, Jane’s new powers come with a price.

Ahead, Waititi says they started discussing where Thor should go next literally the day Ragnarok hit theaters. And he tells us how he got Russell Crowe to play Zeus (in a performance that can best be described as “over the top,” and who had to be convinced this would not be anything like Maximus from Gladiator.) But, first, Waititi makes fun of my Zoom feed. Because, now, I’m the only person left who does not have a good Zoom background.

Good to see you.

You, too. This looks good. This video is interesting to me. This looks like found footage from a horror film.

Me? Yeah, That’s accurate.

It’s awesome. I love it. It looks like it’s 4:00 AM.

This corner is the only place in this room that doesn’t have a bunch of stuff behind it. If I tilt up, see, there’s a Star Trek: The Motion Picture poster…

[Laughs] Oh… I’m not promoting Star Trek: The Motion Picture?

Yeah, that’s what we are here to talk about.

Alright.

So, Thor owns a Cocktails and Dreams neon sign from Cocktail. In the theater I did the DiCaprio pointing at the screen meme…

Yeah. I think a lot of the design of that stuff was like, what would seem really just weird. Like other things that are going through space, why not have Cocktails and Dreams on the outside of the goat boat? And also, it’s a goat boat, a Viking ship being dragged by goats through space and the space dolphins. And a lot of the stuff is from the comics. And a lot of the stuff is from the Norse mythology as well – the goats and the towing the ship through space, all that stuff. And it’s just like, I think with this film, after we did Ragnarok, we wanted to do something that felt just as colorful and energetic and just as much of a sort of bombastic feel to it, but we wanted to be able to make it maybe a bit more emotional, push Thor further. And out of all of the elements that we managed to get into the film, it sort of retains that. And I think maybe just because it’s the closest film to me right now, but I do think it’s better.

So when you finish Ragnarok, you’re thinking to yourself, “You know what this movie’s missing? It’s missing a direct reference to Cocktail, and we have to correct that.”

Exactly. Yeah. That’s right. My big regret with Ragnarok was not doing Cocktail.

And now it’s corrected.

Well, probably Jeff Goldblum’s big palace in Ragnarok? It should have been in there.

Right.

When we finished Raganarok, we actually all went to dinner. And this was five years ago, the night that the film opened in cinemas. And then we all discussed, we were like, what would be next for Thor? We knew Raknarok would be leading up to Endgame. But what would be the next thing? And it was five years ago that we came up with this whole montage: his travels, clips from things you’ve never seen him in or seen him doing, as a kid, how he grew up. And the whole film kind of about this all sort of unraveled from there. Then wanting to bring Jane back, wanting to bring in the God Butcher. Because even on Ragnarok, we were looking at the God Butcher there.

Am I crazy, or is Beetlejuice in this movie? I saw a shadow creature at the end that looked like Beetlejuice once he transforms into a monster. I didn’t know if that was a reference or not, or maybe my brain made that up.

Maybe one of these computer people did it themselves. I wouldn’t mind.

So it’s possible is what you’re saying?

Yeah. It’s possible. And if it did happen, I’m okay with it.

Especially the first third of this movie, I felt a connection with Thor. He went through trauma, and we’ve all been through trauma with the pandemic and everything. And I think a lot of people have reassessed their lives. This really hits something.

Well, the film is about finding Thor in a midlife crisis, trying to figure out his purpose. And as you’re saying, a lot of people in the last two years, have gone, “Was I happy before? Was I doing what I’ve been doing?” Suddenly, they’re realizing they’re at home with their families. They’re like, “Oh, I think this is actually what I want.” And it’s about finding purpose and finding just a reason for what we do and whether it counts. Can I do more? And that whole aim by the end of the film was to sort of find his real purpose. And I’m not going to say what that is, but yeah, that was important.

Do you want to do another Thor? I mean, I feel like you’ve cracked the code with Thor. I’ve tried to put myself in your shoes where it’s like, yeah, I could easily do another one and probably do a really good one, but would you want to?

Well, yeah, not right now. If Chris was into it and stuff, I’m sure there’s an even crazier thing that we could probably come up with.

Right.

It’s just got to be something that’s at least, that no one expects. With Love and Thunder, we were like, what would be good after Ragnarok? What could we do? And I was thinking, well, I like kind of like playing with the fans a little bit. And I was like, the thing that no Thor fan really wants to see is the word “love” in a Thor title. “I’m Thor, and I go out and smash things and stuff.” No, but Thor being in love, the idea of love surrounding Thor, is actually pretty amazing. And there’s a character I want to see.

Speaking of that, I’m just guessing, but I felt like you were almost at your happiest directing the stuff with Thor and Jane when they’re dating. All the flashback stuff.

Totally! Totally.

I feel like you could do a whole movie of just that.

Yeah. For me, the film is really just that relationship, you know? We’ve got his story as well. But for me, one of the most important things really was just to continue those little looks to the side and looking at each other and just kind of that throughout the film that you really get the feeling, oh, these feelings are still here.

How did you convince Russell Crowe to do this? Because he’s amazing in it!

Yeah, he’s incredible.

I couldn’t believe what I was watching.

It made sense seeing his name. And I’ve always wanted to work with him or put him in something. He was very close to coming to do this soccer movie, but I couldn’t make the schedule work for him. And we became friends before Love and Thunder. I’d been wanting to work with him and then just came to him while we were in Sydney, came out to his place, and I was like, “Look, mate, I know it’s going to look like we’re just trying to get you to redo the Gladiator role. but this is going to be more fun.”

No, he’s not Maximus in this.

No, there no Maximus in this. I love him in this because I’ve never seen him like this.

You should do a Zeus movie with Russell.

That would be amazing, wouldn’t it?

‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ hit theaters on July 8th. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.

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