When Thor first made his debut in 2011, audiences were quick to champion the mjolnir-wielding Norse god. The character quickly became one of Marvel’s most successful, spawning a number of films and catapulting Chris Hemsworth into another tier of fame that even eludes some of Hollywood’s most long-standing veterans of film.
But it was the third film, Thor: Ragnarok, that changed everything for both the Marvel character and its actor. Directed by Taika Waititi, the superhero’s third go-around proved to be the most entertaining yet, injecting a fresh sense of humour into the franchise and allowing Hemsworth to invest more in the character. Thor became more expansive, more dimensional and for audiences, this led many to claim the film was not just the best Thor film, but potentially even the best from Marvel, too.
Not surprisingly, Waititi has become something of a hot commodity in Hollywood. In his native New Zealand, the man should practically have a landmark erected in his honour. Films like Hunt for the Wilderpeople, starring Sam Neill, have showcased the humour that seems intrinsic to New Zealanders as well as the beauty of its natural landscapes.
Thor may have commanded a bigger budget for the star director, but Waititi leaned all the way into its production with the same humour that made him a household name in New Zealand, and now the world. Audiences couldn’t get enough of the idiosyncratic wit the director brought to the film, which amassed close to $US854 million worldwide (approx. $1.2 million AUD) and a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 93 percent. Given the overly critical nature of audiences these days, that’s about as sure to a universal ‘thumbs-up’ of approval as you can warrant.
It comes as good news then that the director will write and direct the follow up to the 2017 blockbuster, with The Hollywood Reporter announcing he has signed up for Thor 4. Chris Hemsworth is also expected to reprise his career-defining role as the Asgardian god of thunder.
The announcement was unexpected, as both Hemsworth and Waititi have been busy lining up other projects. With Waititi taking up the fourth instalment of the Marvel franchise, it doesn’t bode particularly well for Warner Bros.’ adaptation of Japanese manga, Akira. Originally expected to be released in May of 2021, the project has since been put on pause indefinitely as the production dates seemed to clash with Thor 4. It’s unclear what will happen with Akira, which has already suffered delays and could, as so often happens in Hollywood, be shelved altogether.That doesn’t bode well for fans hoping to see the live-action remake of the Japanese manga show, but it does see Hemsworth and Waititi team up once again – and we all know how great this pairing is.
Where Hemsworth seemed destined to always play the handsome, rugged heartthrob with the action chops to match, Waititi allowed him to break free of the mould and express more of his personality. He proved to audiences that he has a penchant for comedy, and certainly delivered a film that leaned into the hilarity that lasers, sci-fi cheesiness and an '80s-themed soundtrack all-too-easily conjure.
With Marvel continuing to churn out superhero movie after superhero movie, Taika Waititi is the best director to deliver something new, exciting and with a comedic edge that so often falls short in most other MCU films.