Thor: Ragnarok Interview with Producer Brad Winderbaum

What can you tease about how this film leads into Infinity War?

Much like Winter Soldier took a lot of ideas off the playing field to make it harder on the Avengers in Ultron, [Ragnarok is] a similar thing. The whole cosmic world of the MCU was… you had Thanos, and you had Chitauri, and you have threats from above coming. But you also have Asgard, you also have these protective forces out there too. And in a similar way we make it much harder for those protections to come help our heroes as we, as we enter [Avengers 3].

Talk about the chronology, it's a bit after Ultron where does it fit in with Dr. Strange?

You know, it’s hard. In the timeline of the MCU, things kind of happen on top of each other, especially now in Phase Three. They’re not as interlocked as they were in Phase One, you know, during Fury’s Big Week and everything. So [Thor: Ragnarok] happens maybe on top of Civil War, on top of Spider-Man [Homecoming]. Somewhere in that ball park.

In the concept art room it was pretty obvious there were images of Dr. Strange... why are those there?

Well I, I think the cat’s out of the bag that he plays a part, you know, in our film. There's definitely a puddle jumping quest element to our story. So we see Thor on a journey through multiple environments. He is on Earth for a brief period of time where he will see Dr. Strange.

It sounds like we’re not seeing Sif and the Warriors Three, but do we learn what happened to them?

Um… That’s not necessarily the case. And yes

Can you tease any sort of appearances, Easter eggs or cameos? There are so many wacky cosmic characters just in the Sakaar sequence alone. Are there other characters that we can expect to see?

I mean, yes. I'll say that it's impossible to put in every single thing that everybody wants into this movie. There are certain things that you don’t want to... you know, introduce an Easter egg that can then go on and become their own--

Can you give us an example of that?

There's any number of examples, you know. There are certain things that, if a character... there can be a character that's 'Oh that would be really great if that person was in that crowd,' it's a little pop. But you don’t want to burn them up in one pop when you can tell a story [later].

The Jack Kirby influences seem so similar to that of Guardians of the Galaxy, would you say you guys are taking cues or influence from Guardians or just based on Jack Kirby?

We’re definitely leaning into Jack [Kirby] more heavily than Guardians. There are elements of Guardians that will work their way into our film, both stylistically and narratively. In the sense that, like all the Earthbound heroes feel like they’re living and breathing in the same air, certainly now that we’re in space it feels, in a very MCU way, that we’re living and breathing in the same air.

Can you tells us about Loki, and his arc?

We left Loki as… he kind of achieved his goals, he became the king of Asgard, and he is ruling that place. And what we come to learn, what Thor comes to learn early on is that there's a lot of terrible things in the cosmos that just shouldn't be that way. And we learn that Odin was doing far more than it seemed on the surface to keep the universe safe. That there were all these threats that he had quelled or was keeping at bay using his strength and power to do so - that Loki was completely unaware, and unprepared for. So he becomes the King of Asgard, everything is great, it's a good party, but he failed to realize the threats that were just over the horizon. Hela being the biggest and most terrible one of all.

In Ultron we got a little bit of Thor figuring it out, how did that impact how this script worked?

Well obviously we look at what makes the final cut of the film as canon, so we pour over those movies a lot during the development process. And it really just informed his character. The best, biggest takeaway from Ultron was that Thor got some of the biggest laughs in the movie and he won scenes even with Tony Stark, you know? We wanted to base a movie around that Thor, that empowered, smart Thor who the other cosmic figures in his mythology would maybe be a little bit unprepared for.

So Loki is used to being able to easily get the upper hand, but now Thor is a little bit smarter, he knows a little bit more about what's going on. He can keep Loki specifically on his toes more.

Can you talk about the goddess of death, and if she's going to connect to Thanos in the future?

Obviously we always think about the movies as standalones, even if they do set up a movie down the road or pay off something from a previous film. What we hope, if we do our jobs right, is that Hela is one of the best villains we've had. Maybe the best, hopefully. Certainly Cate has been delivering an incredible performance. She's really scary and really charming, she's very easy to watch, very fun to be around. But very murderous and horrible at the same time.

And you're right that those are things that Thanos values. Whether or not she... when and how she plays into the future of the universe is uncertain now, at this point.

What about Grandmaster - Jeff Goldblum hasn’t been here yet, it seems like a short one-day shoot. What's up for his character and what's he going to look like?

He is... you know, Jeff Goldblum is, uh... he's Jeff Goldblum. He's going to be - especially under Taika’s character - I think he's going to really be a fun, kind of an elusive character. He's the ringleader of the circus on Sakaar. But he's also a little bit of a brutal dictator, although he's completely unaware. You know, to him it's all good all the time.

Those Planet Hulk rumors were around for a long time, always denied but obviously true. Can you talk about the decision and why he's such a pivotal character in the final battle?

I mean, it was a very early idea. In the earliest development of Thor, we were looking at ‘Planet Hulk’ as inspiration, maybe not even to integrate the Hulk into the franchise but the idea of a planet where there's gladiatorial games as being a Thor predicament. It really was a cool idea to us.

Somewhere in the early conversations, when it looked like it was going that way, it was a no brainer. It actually started off as like, ‘…could we have Hulk in there too?’ And then as soon as that spark ignited, it ignited kind of an idea machine. And suddenly [Hulk] was married to the plot.

What conversations led to Taika being selected as the director of this film?

The movies are basically assigned, so I finished Ant-Man and I knew I was doing Thor, the third installment of a Thor movie next. There were certain things that Kevin [Feige] wanted out of the film: one was definitely the comedic side of Chris, who’s an awesome comedy actor as it turns out. A big fun kind of space epic that's not so married to Earth, and really just a fun adventure film that has big stakes, but also has a breakneck speed and takes you on a crazy adventure.

So honestly I just started thinking about the films I liked last year [What We Do in The Shadows] was one of my favorites. And then I just watched all of Taika’s other films. [Hunt for the Wilderpeople] hadn’t come out yet. It was Boy. When I saw Boy, he became like my number one pick. It had the combination that I think we always are striving for at Marvel, which is a great sense of humor that ran through the whole thing, but also had moments of real drama and melancholy that the characters had to deal with.

And felt like it had the ebb and flow of life, you know? It was like highs and happiness and lows and like and bad situations and overcoming it. His movies deal with real, real serious themes, but you always leave feeling uplifted. I think and hope that when this movie comes out, it feels like it exists in the Taika Waititi canon of films for those reasons.

NEXT: How Thor: Ragnarok Makes INFINITY WAR Possible

Key Release Dates
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017) release date: Nov 03, 2017
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