Thor: Ragnarok has been the great mystery of Marvel Studios’ 2017 films. We know so little about it compared to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming, thanks primarily to those films being closer on the calendar and already having trailers. Beyond that, there is another large factor that makes Ragnarok such a wild card and that is the brilliant and unique voice of its director, Taika Waititi.
With this week’s Entertainment Weekly cover story, Marvel Studios begins pulling back the curtain on the film. The cover features Hela (Cate Blanchett), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) with his brand new, very short hairdo. Hemsworth talked about the sense of renewal that arrived as the golden locks fell off.
“It was nice not to have to sit in the makeup chair for that hour each morning. It felt like a rebirth for me as the actor but also as the character.”
Of course, fans have known about Thor’s new look since set photos made their way around the internet last summer. If that wasn’t enough, Marvel Studios also gave Hall H panel attendees a glimpse of Thor’s new hairstyle at San Diego Comic-Con. What’s new for everyone are details as to how the villainous Hela arrives on the scene, how Thor ends up on Sakaar, and who’s already there when he arrives. Blanchett described the emergence of her character.
“She’s been locked away for millennia getting more and more cross, and then, with a mistake, she gets unleashed and she ain’t getting back in that box.”
Instead Hela finds a new prison (of sorts) to which she can ship Thor off. She sends him to the planet Sakaar where The God of Thunder is no longer as mighty, relatively speaking. This is especially troubling given that Thor is forced to be a gladiator upon arrival. Hemsworth spoke about his character’s new circumstances.
“[Sakaar is] basically where every wormhole across the universe dumps out its trash, so you get people from all walks of life with all sorts of incredible abilities and powers. No one cares what prince or king Thor may have been in another world. Also, his strength is pretty easily matched with those he finds himself amongst.”
EW reveals that the reigning champion on Sakaar is the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). How the Hulk got there is still a mystery, but since he’s already on Sakaar when Thor arrives, we know that there’s probably not going to be a scene where Thor swings by Earth to pick up Hulk on the way to the gladiator planet.
Sakaar was the home of the famous Planet Hulk story arc in Marvel Comics and it’s also part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe already. It is the planet from which Ronan’s (Lee Pace) alien army originated in Guardians of the Galaxy. We’ll have to see if that cosmic connection bears any crossover fruit.
The tone of Thor: Ragnarok was also discussed, as Hemsworth explained how the film leans into director Taika Waititi’s unique style and humor.
“Taika has such a quirky, left-of-field sense of humor, which forced all the characters and the tone of the whole story to head in a new direction. Each day we were like, ‘Are we pushing it too far? Are we allowed to have this much fun?’”
Waitit elaborated on his approach.
“I think sometimes people mistake a tonal shift as ‘We’re just going to make some ridiculous broad comedy where no one gives a s— what happens and everyone gets stoned and sits around talking about saving the universe.’ We want people to care what happens and care that the hero succeeds. I think tonally it’s like a slight shift. I don’t feel nervous — I feel good about it.”
Waititi should feel good about it given the overwhelmingly positive response to his previous films, especially the last two—What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Comedy is nothing new for the Thor franchise, as there is plenty of it in both the first film and Thor: The Dark World, but what was done in those films is not what Waititi does so well.
For many, this will be their first Taika Waititi film and it’s a good bet that they will (accurately) feel as though they’ve never seen anything like it. Producer and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige understood this when he hired Waititi while trying to make sure Thor: Ragnarok gives audiences something different.
“I have a belief that if you’re lucky enough to get to part 3 of a franchise, it is your obligation not to fall to threequel-itis,”
Thor: Ragnarok is in theaters November 3, 2017.