Thor: Ragnarok is widely held up as one of the strangest — and arguably one of the best — of the MCU titles, in large part because it was helmed by Taika Waititi. The actor-filmmaker — of comedies like the What We Do in the Shadows film and the Oscar-winning Jojo Rabbit — was really allowed to bring his singular sensibility to the ripped Norse god’s third solo outing, and bring it he did. But even the most eccentric style is informed by other works, and Waititi recently revealed there were two chief influences that helped make Ragnarok what it is.
As caught by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Waititi recently made an appearance on “Pizza Film School,” the YouTube series hosted by Anthony and Joe Russo, and he told his Marvel colleagues that one film that really inspired the third Thor was the John Carpenter classic Big Trouble in Little China, starring Kurt Russell as a reluctant — and not always successful — hero.
In the 1987 cult fave, Russell’s truck driving Jack Burton finds himself unwittingly embroiled in skirmish with magical warriors. Meanwhile, Thor is none-too-happy to be stuck on a garbage-strewn planet, forced to fight his way back to Earth.
“[Thor] just wants to get home,” Waititi said. “[H]e’s willing to leave people but also he’s trying to keep everyone together. He’s trying to be charismatic, and he’s trying to be a hero. He fails a lot, and tonally, that’s something from Big Trouble that I carried with me into Ragnarok.”
There was another thing that greatly influenced Waititi, but it wasn’t another movie. It was a song, namely Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” off their third album, from 1970. Though it was influenced by the band visiting Iceland, the lyrics include references to Valhalla, aka Thor’s home.
“That song is basically about Thor,” asserted Waititi. He added:
“Just knowing the tone, knowing that it had to be playful and over the top … that this is unapologetically a space opera, and I’m going to pump this with colour and life and energy and humour, and cool music. And the way I feel about that film is like if you’d ask a bunch of 10 year olds what they want in that movie; we basically said yes to every idea. On paper, it doesn’t make any sense. But with Thor, I think it makes perfect sense.”
Waititi also said, in forcing Thor to team up with characters like Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk/Bruce Banner, Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, and Korg, the rock-man voiced by Waititi himself, he “wanted to capture a road trip of people who had no business hanging out with each other.”
The filmmaker will be returning for the character’s fourth at-bat, Thor: Love and Thunder, though, given the state of the world, who knows when that will begin filming. But Waititi said he’s grateful, in a way, for the setback, as he now has plenty of time to hone the script.
“There are a few positive things I can take away. One of them is that a lot of these films, and films in general, are rushed or you don’t have as much time as you’d want to have on the script and things like that,” he told the Russos. He continued:
“We’re still writing Love and Thunder and I think it’s good to just keep writing and then you know, we’ll have a really, really good script. And with writing, especially, you should use as much of that time as possible to get your story right, because you never really get it later on. Film is an industry where you’re always complaining about not having enough time. I think, right now, we’ve given ourselves a huge amount of time to work on all sorts of things so we may as well use it.”
(Via St. Louis Post-Dispatch)