Over the years, much has been made among both fans and Hollywood insiders about just how tightly controlled an operation Marvel Studios runs. It’s no secret that company executives like Kevin Feige are heavily involved in the overall creative climate and progression of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that those executives have been more than willing to overrule the director of one of their films about what does and doesn’t make the final cut of a given MCU movie. These tendencies were perhaps most noticeably illustrated by their often very public clashes with Avengers and Age of Ultron helmer Joss Whedon.
That said, recent months have seen some major behind-the-scenes changes take place at Marvel, so one naturally wonders how the filmmakers currently working within the studio’s system feel about things. Thankfully, Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows) was asked just that very question during a recent interview.
In answering the question, Waititi told The Verge the following:
“It hasn’t been that different. So far it’s been good! I’ve been more organized, which is saying something, for a guy like me to be organized. I’m surrounded by really intelligent, amazing people. I’ve got access to great minds and great resources. So I’m at a real advantage. In terms of the studio thing, these people don’t act like a studio. They’re cool, smart storytellers. I’ve been enjoying hanging out with them. And I’ve made commercials, so I’ve worked with the worst people in the world. Nothing could be more restrictive than working with people in advertising.”
When asked a follow-up question about whether the former indie-director’s signature offbeat comedic style would translate properly when applied to a major studio blockbuster, Waititi had these sentiments to add:
“Yes, it will. Until it doesn’t. [Laughs] I don’t know, I can only hope. I’ve got to bring as much of myself as I can to this, and then see how it goes. You obviously need people overseeing the bigger picture, the next five movies or whatever. Otherwise we’d all be left to our own devices, and God knows what would happen.“
While it’s possible that Waititi’s last sentence was meant to be taken in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek fashion — it’s sometimes hard to convey sarcasm in print — it’s definitely not an inaccurate statement if taken at face value. Part of the success of the MCU has been Marvel’s ability to tie everything together into one massive story that simply branches off into chapters. One can only imagine the continuity nightmare that would ensue should studio reps opt to give creative free reign to each individual filmmaker they hire. However, later in the interview, Waititi was specifically asked if not having complete control bothered him, and he gave a somewhat unexpected answer:
“I don’t think it’s as important with someone else’s source material, with someone else’s stuff. I didn’t invent Thor, so I don’t feel a passionate need to have creative control over him. I wonder how Stan Lee feels about me doing a Thor film? [Laughs]“
Albeit a tad surprising coming from a man who has personally written every single film he’s directed prior to Thor: Ragnarok, that’s actually a fairly well-reasoned position. After all, Thor has been part of popular culture for decades, so why should Waititi get too hung up on “ownership” of the material that he’s simply adapting from a long legacy of tales concerning the God of Thunder? All in all, while directors before him — and surely directors after — have had and will have problems working within the sometimes rigid bounds of Marvel Studios, it would appear that Waititi is just fine going with the flow.
Captain America: Civil War is in theaters now. Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.
Source: The Verge