Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi revealed that most of his upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe adventure was improvised. From the release of the first trailer for Thor: Ragnarok in April, it became immediately apparent that the New Zealand helmer’s solo tale about the God of Thunder was not going to be your average Thor movie.
Playing out the strains of Led Zeppelin’s “The Immigrant Song,” the action was dynamic, the characters were unabashedly offbeat, and neon-colored title treatment had a definitive 1970s disco-era vibe. Saturday’s follow-up trailer for Thor: Ragnarok, which debuted at San Diego Comic-Con, only reinforced the notion that Waititi is bound and determined to take Thor fans, if not MCU fans as a whole, to places they’ve never been before for an adventure they’ll surely never forget.
With the film’s biggest press event yet coming at SDCC, Waititi is taking the opportunity to reveal what’s behind the method of his movie madness in making Thor: Ragnarok. A big part of it, the director told MTV, is that 80 percent of the film was improvised. He says:
“My style of working is I’ll often be behind the camera, or right next to the camera yelling words at people, like, ‘Say this, say this! Say it this way!’ I’ll straight-up give Anthony Hopkins a line reading. I don’t care.”
Waititi says he brought a “very loose and collaborate mood” to the Thor: Ragnarok set, as well as the “tone and sensibility from my other films” to the production. And while Waititi directed the quirky indie hits What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, some of the actors on Thor: Ragnarok were still taken aback by the helmer’s unique vision, including Hulk/Bruce Banner actor Mark Rufallo. Waititi says:
“Mark Ruffalo would be finished shooting for the day, and he’d come up to me and he’d be like, ‘Why have we not been fired yet? We are doing the most insane stuff in this film, so where’s the phone call?”
While the first two trailers for Thor: Ragnarok clearly have a lighter, comedic tone, there really was no indication in either of them that the film was heavily improvised. That, of course, will come when the film is released on November 2, when fans will decide whether Waititi’s massive risk pays off. The bottom line is, improvisation is tricky, and either it works brilliantly like it does in director Christopher Guest’s films like Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show, or it doesn’t — which can be disastrous.
That’s not to say stars like Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston can’t be funny, they just might not be as adept at improv as say, Jeff Goldblum (who already said he improvised many of his scenes), who was an inspired casting choice as Grandmaster. At least Ruffalo’s Hulk is sure to get a laugh as Hulk, since it’s incredibly entertaining in the new trailer to hear and see the mean, green machine carry on the semblance of a conversation for the first time since uttering “Puny god” after his Loki smackdown in The Avengers.
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