Director Taika Waititi has exclusively revealed that cult ’80s movie Flash Gordon is the biggest influence for his sci-fi threequel Thor: Ragnarok. Taking the box office by storm, the God of Thunder seems to have struck gold (and lightning) for the third time, and it could all be thanks to the flowing hair of Sam J. Jones’ portrayal of Flash.
Both Flash Gordon and Thor may come from the colorful pages of comic books, feature colorful villains, and flying heroes, but it would be easy to end the similarities there. Looking at 2011’s Thor and the 2013 sequel Thor: The Dark World, you would be hard pushed to find any inspiration from 1980’s Flash Gordon – so what’s different about Ragnarok?
Screen Rant sat down with Waititi, who explained the inspiration for his retro spectacular of Norse gods and neon. With the Ragnarok director having previously expressed his love for Flash Gordon, it is no surprise that Mike Hodges’ movie received top billing:
SR: The Thor movie is clearly inspired by science fiction movies of the 80s, but which directly influenced you for Ragnarok?
Taika Waititi: I think Flash Gordon is one of the biggest…You know, the tone and the colors, definitely the colors sort of how bright and in your face that film is. The soundtrack as well, sort of got similar feels to it. That film was actually the only film I ended up showing the H.O.D.s before we started shooting . Then, what else did we have? Other films I looked at early on were Big Trouble in Little China.
While Ragnarok is nowhere near as campy as Flash Gordon or the Joel Schumacher era of Batman movies, there is a refreshingly colorful palette away from the gritty superhero movies that fans have become used to in recent years. Thankfully, Waititi had slightly more of a budget than Hodges had to bring his vision to life, yet Ragnarok and Flash Gordon are both ambitious in their storytelling. Where else can you see the influences of the muscular football star heading into space seep into Waititi’s first MCU adventure?
Sam J. Jones sports some pretty substantial hair in the ’80s comic book movie, so it isn’t too hard to see where Ragnarok got the idea for Thor’s hair obsession from. Also, the technicolor planet of Sakaar, OTT ruler The Grandmaster, and the Hulk arena scenes aren’t a million miles away from Mingo City, Prince Vultan, and Flash’s deathmatch in Sky City. It is easy to spot the similarities between Cate Blanchett’s turn as the villainous Hela and Max von Sydow’s Ming the Merciless too, and the similarities still don’t end there.
Waititi maintains that had Queen frontman Freddy Mercury still been alive today, he would’ve been first choice to provide the soundtrack for Ragnarok. That may not have been possible, but Ragnarok still has an ’80s-inspired retro soundtrack of rock and electronica. Feeding off the success of the likes of Guardians of the Galaxy, Ragnarok proves that music can be just as important to a superhero movie as the story itself.
Waititi had always seen Ragnarok as more of a standalone than a conclusion of a trilogy, and it shows that Marvel boss Kevin Feige had faith that the director would work his magic on the movie. Differing drastically in tone to the first two Thor movies, Waititi injected his signature comedy into the movie to give it part of what has made it so popular. Sadly, unlike Flash Gordon, there was no Queen soundtrack for Thor: Ragnarok, but MCU fans can still rock out to Led Zeppelin.
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