The argument that Marvel’s Cinematic Universe isn’t open to unique voices in the director’s chair is officially DOA with the arrival of Thor: Ragnarok as Taika Waititi smears his personality all up on the film from its surface shine down into its numerous nooks and crannies. The director of What We Do In the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople has a particular sensibility that in retrospect is perfect for this character and the worlds he inhabits.
The film hits Blu-ray/DVD on March 6th, but for now why not keep reading and see what I heard on the commentary track for…
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Commentator: Taika Waititi (director)
1. Waititi introduces himself on the commentary by way of this opening logo narration.
2. The opening scene is meant to be disorienting as he wanted audiences to feel immediately off-kilter and unsure of this world.
3. Surtur is voiced by Clancy Brown but his motion-capture was performed by “one of the greatest actors in the world, not just New Zealand but the world, Taika Waititi.”
4. He wants to make sure you notice the “little demon guy” just waking up in the corner of the screen at the 3:54 mark.
5. Waititi feels Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” is just perfect for the film. “As a young Taika growing up in New Zealand in the 80s, if you were to say to me ‘One day you’re going to use one of the greatest songs ever in the history of everness in a movie about Thor the god of thunder that you’ll be directing’ I would have said ‘My friend, I know it because I can see the future.'”
6. All of Surtur’s fiery power moves into the skull at 6:04.
7. Uh, Karl Urban is from New Zealand? Am I the last person on the planet to learn this?
8. He hates guns, but he gave Skurge (Urban) the pair of M-16s because they’re well-known as part of his character in the comic books.
9. Waititi’s next film is going to be Manchester By the Sea Part Two.
10. Skurge’s Shake Weight is actually Waititi’s. He bought it via an infomercial while in Atlanta filming Green Lantern. I’m not sure which part of this factoid is more surprising — that it’s his Shake Weight, or that I completely forgot he had a role in Green Lantern.
11. He told Anthony Hopkins that in his introductory scene he’d “be playing Tom Hiddleston playing you. And he said ‘Oh okay, good,’ and he turned up in blue eyeliner.”
12. Luke Hemsworth (Westworld) is playing Thor in the little play for Odin/Loki.
13. The New York City-set scenes were shot in Brisbane, “which is the closest you’ll get to New York in Australia both geographically and with how it looks.”
14. The scene with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) was shot nearly a year before principal photography began on this film as they visited the set of Doctor Strange to film it.
15. The Norway scene was filmed in Atlanta “where they do not have cliffs like that.”
16. The design of planet Sakaar, from its architecture and costumes to ships and shapes, is intentionally and obviously inspired by the work of Jack Kirby. One of Kirby’s space station designs was even re-purposed into a gun.
17. Zoe Bell was Cate Blanchett‘s stunt double for much of the film.
18. The little circle that Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) secures to Thor’s neck is an “obedience disc” and originated in the Planet Hulk story line.
19. The instrumentation was changed for the film itself, but Jeff Goldblum is actually playing a keyboard during the scene where the Grandmaster makes music.
20. The Grandmaster is blue in the comics, “but one of the fears about making Jeff Goldblum blue would be that people might think he was resurrecting his character from Earth Girls Are Easy.” So they gave him a little blue strip instead.
21. Korg is “played by Taika Waititi who is one of the great, great New Zealand actors.”
22. The reveal that Asgard has a darker, more violent history is one of Waititi’s favorite scenes in the film.
23. The gauntlet that Hela knocks to the ground at 44:24 first appeared in Thor issue #1.
24. Commenting on the gibberish graffiti behind Thor in the infinity hallway, Waititi posits that crop circles may just be aliens “tagging fields” for fun.