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Taika Waititi Says He Directed ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Because He ‘Was Poor’

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Taika Waititi Says He Directed ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Because He ‘Was Poor’


Taika Waititi wasn’t particularly interested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before he became part of it, and only directed “Thor: Ragnarok” for the money, he said on Monday’s episode of the “SmartLess” podcast.

“I had no interest in doing one of those films,” Waititi said on the podcast, which is hosted by actors Will Arnett, Jason Bateman and Sean Hayes. “It wasn’t on my plan for my career as an auteur. But I was poor and I’d just had a second child, and I thought, ‘You know what, this would be a great opportunity to feed these children.’”

“And ‘Thor,’ let’s face it, it was probably the least popular franchise,” he continued. “I never read ‘Thor’ comics as a kid. That was the comic I’d pick up and be like, ‘Ugh.’ And then I did some research on it, and I read one ‘Thor’ comic … [and] I was still baffled by this character.”

Once deemed an indie cinema wunderkind for “Eagle vs Shark” (2007) and “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” (2016), Waititi is a more divisive figure today. He’s the first Indigenous director to win an Oscar, for 2019’s “Jojo Rabbit.” At the same time, he’s been slammed as a Hollywood hack who left his roots behind. “The Taika Waititi Fatigue Is Real,” a recent headline on The Ringer declared.

Waititi made “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017), Marvel’s third movie centered on the character, after co-writing the beloved vampire comedy “What We Do in the Shadows” (2014). He went on to win a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for “Jojo Rabbit” before helming “Thor: Love and Thunder” (2022), the fourth “Thor” entry and one of the most polarizing Marvel films to date.

“It’s hard to see it now but Taika Waititi was most definitely an Auteur,” wrote one person on X, formerly Twitter, on Monday. “It saddens me that the man who made beautiful films like Eagle Vs Shark, Boy, What We Do In The Shadows & Hunt For the Wilderpeople turned into a hack.”

While many on social media are frustrated at Waititi, and argued that his candor was “a big fuck you to the fans because he doesn’t actually care” about Thor, others are less concerned.

One person on X wrote: “I’m happy he was able to provide for his loved ones.”

Taika Waititi has directed two "Thor" films for Marvel Studios, and said he's open to helm another one at some point.
Taika Waititi has directed two “Thor” films for Marvel Studios, and said he’s open to helm another one at some point.

Jordan Strauss/Invision/Associated Press

“Ragnarok” grossed $853 million worldwide and earned Waititi praise for his inventive direction. It’s still regarded by many as a high point of the MCU. By contrast, “Love and Thunder” ― while reportedly grossing an impressive $760 million ― was widely panned for its twee humor and lack of gravitas.

“I think we just had too much fun,” Chris Hemsworth, who has portrayed Thor Odinson for Marvel Studios since 2011, told GQ earlier this year. “It just became too silly. It’s always hard being in the centre of it and having any real perspective.”

Some esteemed auteurs, such as Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino, have come under fire after voicing their distaste for the way comic book movies came to dominate Hollywood.

Waititi said he wouldn’t direct a fifth “Thor” movie, but that he’d be open to helm another entry even if other filmmakers get a crack before he returns. In Waititi’s words, he and Marvel are “in an open relationship, and it’s like if they want to see other people, I’m happy for that.”

He concluded: “I’d still get back into bed with them one day.”



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