Director Taika Waititi has a good chance of sticking around the MCU after his work on Thor: Ragnarok, at least if Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige his way. Marvel has long been known to pluck TV and indie film directors from mainstream obscurity and turn them into blockbuster auteurs. And while they’ve had some complications in the past – most famously with Edgar Wright on Ant-Man and Patty Jenkins on Thor 2 – the method has also yielded some fantastic results.
Brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, Peyton Reed, Scott Derrickson, and James Gunn are prime examples of this, spinning their small bodies of work into big success with the Captain America, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, and Guardians of the Galaxy franchises, respectively. Like with many MCU directors before him, a few eyebrows were raised when Waititi was selected to helm the third Thor film. Having impressed with his work on Flight of the Conchords and What We Do in the Shadows, his knack for comedy was unquestionable. But given the rave reviews Thor: Ragnarok has received so far, it’s clear that he’s just as capable of handling action and spectacle and doing so within the continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
We spoke with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige at the Thor: Ragnarok press junket and asked him about the influence of Jack Kirby and Walt Simonson and wanted to know if there are plans for more with Waititi.
“Well, we’ll see. I would love, love, love to work with Taika again and I have every confidence that we will. What we’re working on right now is the next six movies. The next six movies that will bring us to Untitled Avengers in May 2019, which carries off a lot of what you see in this movie. In some cases very directly, and continues to build and grow. The notion of the Jack Kirby elements. Walt Simonson has always been an influence on the Thor series for us, obviously, he’s done such amazing work in Thor. Jack Kirby has been an influence on every Marvel movie we’ve ever made because he built the Marvel Universe with Stan, Steve Ditko, and the whole gang there, but this movie, and coincidentally being the 100th year anniversary of Jack Kirby’s birth, we really wanted to be that unabashed love letter, and a film by Taika, when talking to the art department, and saying, “oh look at that, it really should be like this”, looking at Jack Kirby costumes and background panels, and the art department doing something inspired by it and then Taika going no, no. Do this! [referencing exact Kirby art] And that’s why you have, it’s direct to translation of Kirby’s artwork which hasn’t been seen in a movie before.”
With Marvel looking more and more to the work of Steve Ditko, Simonson, and Kirby for inspiration and design work, inventive directors like Gunn and Waititi seem to be perfect matches for the cosmic sensibility of the MCU. While Thor and the Guardians are still connected to the same universe as the Avengers, their setting and history allows for more radical themes, environments, and set pieces.
We’ll have to wait a little while longer to judge for ourselves how well Waititi’s vision works for the God of Thunder, but it seems pretty clear that Thor: Ragnarok will maintain the fun of the director’s previous films.
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