In Norse mythology, Ragnarok sees the end of the world and the deaths of Odin, Thor, Loki, and Heimdall, followed by the re-emergence of the world anew. Appropriately, Thor: Ragnarok sees a complete rebirth in tone and feel to Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Thor franchise.
At the end of Thor: The Dark World the god of thunder had decided to live on Earth with Jane Foster, leaving Asgard to the rule of his father – who’s really his manipulative brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in disguise. However, Earth isn’t really where the god of thunder belongs, so he leaves to search for answers.
Instead of answers, Thor finds himself deprived of his trusty hammer Mjölnir, with Asgard facing great peril: his sister Hela (Cate Blanchett), the “goddess of death”, is out of prison and in a bad, bad mood.Thor is flung to the far reaches of the universe to a planet named Sakaar, where the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Loki are – and the trio must work together to save Asgard.
The utter ruin of one’s home can potentially be a dark subject matter, but this is still Marvel and so there needs to be an element of fun. This is why New Zealand director Taika Waititi, the award-winning filmmaker behind last year’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople, was brought in to helm the project. Selected largely for his unique vision and brand of humour he brings to his films, Waititi was tasked with setting a new tone for Thor.“I am more known for independent storytelling or storytelling on a budget,” the director explained. “I thought it was time for me to expand. As the Marvel Universe expands so does my need as a creative, as a director and as a storyteller.”
Waititi revealed that when Marvel approached him and said they wanted to take Thor in a whole new direction, it suited him just fine. And when he pitched his “cosmic space race rock opera, heavy metal version of Thor”, the studio was eager to incorporate his ideas.
This gave Waititi a great opportunity to shift this film away from the superhero blockbuster vibe of the previous Thor, Iron Man and Avengers movies and work with the special effects team to take more inspiration from the original source material and create a whole new look for the realms. Waititi also infused the film with a large dose of science fiction, fun and humour. He also gave Thor a new haircut.
“Having [something as simple as] a different haircut can affect the way you move,” Hemsworth reveals, “it certainly gave me a different attitude.”
Another thing that’s different is the relationship between the royal Asgardian brothers.
“They are completely out of their depth,” Hiddleston says. “I like the idea that Thor and Loki, these eternally warring brothers, are thrown into hot water together and have to somehow overcome their differences, or at least acknowledge their differences, to try to save Asgard.”
Basically, think how different Guardians of the Galaxy was to the rest of the MCU movies and multiply it by a hundred, and then throw in a good measure of snark signature to the New Zealand sense of humour, a few subtle nods to New Zealand and Australian indigenous cultures, and a very obvious sense of the entire cast and crew having a blast making this movie and you have Thor: Ragnarok.
Edited by Ginny Wong