Taika Waititi is injecting Thor: Ragnarok with his own style, one that was influenced by Flash Gordon and Queen. Marvel Studios’ first two Thor films led by Chris Hemsworth were nowhere close to being failures, but over time the franchise has stood apart as one that just hasn’t hit like many others. Both films were critical and financial hits (despite being in the bottom half of MCU films), and Marvel showed a willingness for change when Waititi was hired.
His comedic abilities have been on display in What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, but he’ll now show what he is capable of doing with a much larger budget. The marketing has shown he is keeping that humor, but also pushing Thor further into the cosmos – giving it a tone similar to what James Gunn has established with Guardians of the Galaxy. That wasn’t his only inspiration behind Ragnarok however.
EW spoke to Waititi about some of the things that influenced his vision for Ragnarok. The first-time Marvel director pointed to a classic ’80s film for one source of inspiration, but also one of the biggest rock bands of all time.
I loved the kind of cosmic trippy vibe of the Thor comics. Another influence for me was Flash Gordon. I grew up loving that movie. … I’ve often said if Freddie Mercury were alive, I would have asked Queen to do the soundtrack. It just has that feel: it’s a cool bold, colorful cosmic adventure. And it just needed to be fun.
The comparison to Flash Gordon is rather fitting in the grand scheme of things. Thor takes the place of Flash Gordon (Sam Jones) and Hela (Cate Blanchett) of Ming the Merciless (Max von Sydow) in this comparison, while Ragnarok presumably doesn’t have any ties to football. Still, Flash Gordon attempts to tell a large space adventure on a limited budget, but Waititi will undoubtedly benefit from modern technology and Marvel’s helping hand. As evident by the marketing, Ragnarok should have little trouble succeeding as a cosmic epic.
Speaking of the marketing, it is easy to see how Queen would fit the tone of Ragnarok already. The first teaser used Led Zeppelin music that fit perfectly. With Queen off the table, Waititi instead enlisted Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh as the film’s composer. No full official tracks from his score have been released, but samples of his score can be heard in the second Thor: Ragnarok trailer – and it is easy to hear the rock-heavy theme. Mercury and Queen may not have ultimately scored the film as Waititi had wished, but Mothersbaugh could very well borrow from the band furthermore.
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