We asked Kiwi filmmaker Taika Waititi about working in the MCU and bringing a bit of Big Trouble in Little China‘s Jack Burton to the character of Thor.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is renowned for enlisting interesting and unlikely filmmakers to put their own spin on the brand; guys like James Gunn on Guardians of the Galaxy, and now Hunt for the Wilderpeople‘s Taika Waititi. But how much creative freedom does the studio allow?
“They gave me a lot of creative freedom, actually,” Waititi tells STACK. “I think that’s to their credit and what makes all their films successful is that they get people who aren’t the obvious choice and just let them run it, knowing that they can corral and guide them along the way because they’ve made all these big films before.
“So I was very relaxed and I knew I was going to be guided in the right way. If I veered off the path, someone would say, ‘No, get in your lane, this is where we’re going.’ It was a very collaborative affair.”
Waititi says it was business as usual when making the transition from small indie films to a big tentpole blockbuster. “I’d done a lot of big commercials as well, so it wasn’t a new experience to be on a big set. We shot for 85 days principle photography; my films are usually 25–30 and it was just a matter of keeping up the energy for that long.”
The director has stated in the past that he wanted to bring a Big Trouble in Little China vibe to Thor: Ragnarok – but did he succeed?
“Yeah,” he grins. “Kurt Russell’s one of my favourite actors and I grew up with films like Big Trouble in Little China. What I love about Jack Burton in that film is that all he wants is his truck back, and he goes on this big adventure. That’s what I wanted Chris [Hemsworth] to do. All he wants is his hammer back and to go home.
“Chris is legitimately funny, he’s such a hilarious guy, so I thought I’d utilise that and use it to our advantage. I thought it was underutilised in the other films.”