Thor: Ragnarok – 12 Revelations From Director Taika Waititi

Thor Ragnarok

by John Nugent |
Published on

The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues apace with Thor: Ragnarok, the Thor threequel that arguably takes first prize in the trilogy. To learn more about, we sat down with its director, Taika Waititi for a lengthy Empire Podcast Spoiler Special – here’s 12 big secrets he unleashed.

MAJOR SPOILERS from the start.

1. The destruction of Asgard was controversial

Thor Ragnarok

The film’s explosive final act sees the prophesy of Ragnarok fulfilled, as Asgard is destroyed by the fire demon Surtur. Waititi admits this was a big move, and one that generated some discussion in script development. "There was a little bit of talk in the beginning: 'Is it too much to destroy Asgard?'” says Waititi. “But no! The more spectacle, the better. I think it's what a lot of the fans wanted. Fulfilling the mythological idea of the death of Asgard." ‘Twas not ever thus. There were "a couple of moments, right at the beginning" of the script phases where Asgard was saved; another version of the story saw the final battle in Valhalla, the Asgardian heaven. “We had this big showdown there. That idea only lasted a couple of weeks.”

Waititi does not mourn Asgard. “I wasn't really that keen on what Asgard looks like,” he says. “Seems like quite a privileged place. Completely made of gold. Full of nerds and scholars. Doesn't seem like my kind of party town.”

2. The ‘Get Help’ gag was a Chris Hemsworth original

Waititi nurtured an improvisational set, often running several different iterations of each scene to get the best gags – and Chris Hemsworth proved to be a master improvisor. Among Hemsworth's contributions was the 'Get Help' gag, where Thor and Loki pretend to be in need of help – before Thor chucks Loki into the path of the bad guys, like a bowling ball. "That was his idea," reveals Waititi. "There's a lot in things in the film which have come straight from his input. I'm very lucky to have someone around who's very invested in the emotionality of the scenes, but wants to have fun."

3. Taika Waititi didn’t care about the Marvel pressure

Thor Ragnarok

Waititi was conscious of the other Marvel films while directing. "You do have to acknowledge they exist." He pauses before deadpanning: "In interviews." The pressure of joining a billion dollar franchise certainly entered Waititi’s consideration, and he admits to wondering: “‘Am I the Jenga block? Am I pulling that one Jenga block that's going to topple the entire empire? I think early on I just decided I don't care.”

Waititi’s approach, as he puts it, was simply “to make the best movie possible and hopefully they'll help me steer the ship. I'm captaining a ship and blindly steering to whatever sparkly cool-looking thing I can, not realising most of those things are icebergs. Marvel are the ones with their hands on the wheel going 'Just move over this way, between those icebergs?'”

4. A scene with Thor and Hulk is based on Waititi’s experience as a parent

Finding stuff that was relatable was an important factor for Waititi. "When you look at comic book characters, we don't have anything in common with them," Waititi says, "especially not Rich Kid Space Viking or Bipolar Angry Green Beast. So you've got to bring them into situations that all of us have been in." For the scene where Thor and Hulk talk about their feelings, Waititi was inspired by conversations with his children. "As a parent, I've had those conversations with my kids. 'Honey, you just can't do that, you can't hit your sister.' And she goes, 'I'm sorry, I just get so angry." It's the exact conversation that Thor and Hulk are having."

5. Hulk beats Loki up in a deleted scene

Thor Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok has plenty of callbacks to earlier Marvel movies – but one moment, from the battle on the Bifröst bridge, didn’t make the final cut. “They all land on the bridge – Thor, Loki and then Hulk. They stand for a second. Then Hulk just smashes Loki, punches him out of the frame – just like in Avengers, when Hulk did it to Thor. It was a crowd favourite, but we just had to get rid of it for time. It might be on the DVD.”

6. Chris Hemsworth was not keen on taking his shirt off

Despite his universally-admired Asgardian abs, Chris Hemsworth was not wild about the scene where Thor wakes up shirtless in Hulk's apartment. "He wasn't at all up for that,” says Waititi. “What's the point of working out so hard and spending all of these years crafting this perfect thing? It's a crime to deprive humanity of at least seven shots in a row of those abdominals.”

7. The Hela revelation comes early because of Star Wars

Thor Ragnarok

Straying away from her origins in the comics, Hela (Cate Blanchett) is revealed to be Thor and Loki’s estranged sister, exiled by Odin. The revelation came later in earlier script drafts – but a similar revelation in Star Wars put paid to that, according to Waititi. “We thought, ‘We can't ever compete with Luke and Darth, which is the greatest reveal ever. Why bother? Let's get it out of the way early, because it's actually not the most important thing. What's more important is the fact that Asgard was built on lies.”

8. Mjolnir is essentially a hand-me-down

Thor Ragnarok

Of the many revelations about Asgard’s secrets and lies, what’s particularly suprising is that Thor’s beloved hammer Mjolnir originally belonged to his sister. "I love Thor thinking he was the favourite son all this time,” says Waititi. “I loved showing that Hela was the favourite, that Odin had such high hopes for Hela and had possibly made that hammer for her – that it was just a hand-me-down for Thor.”

9. Odin’s New York scenes were changed because it was "a bummer"

Early pap shots taken on set showed Anthony Hopkins dressed as a hobo, living on the streets of New York – a vision that never came to pass. And eagle-eyed viewers noticed the scene in the trailer where Hela destroys Mjolnir is in a different location in the finished film. "What we wanted originally was for Thor and Loki to find Odin in New York, living on the streets, Fisher King style,” Waititi explains. "There was something really cool and interesting about that, and I think that might be on the DVD, that version. But something about having him there and then dying made a lot of audiences in our test screenings feel too sorry for him. It was such a bummer seeing the great king of Asgard stuck in New York. We preferred the idea he'd be in some mystical Norse environment.” In the finished film, he’s found in Norway, the source of much Norse mythology.

10. Doctor Strange’s teleporting was all completed all in-camera

Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange

Benedict Cumberbatch puts in a neat little cameo as Doctor Strange – and Waititi had fun using simple practical effects to achieve the teleporting around his sanctum. “It was all in-camera,” Waititi confirms. “Just jump cuts – hard-cutting to Chris doing a little wobble, as if he'd just arrived. For me, it was great - we didn't need to do some sparkly VFX illusion. That stuff is very satisfying as a filmmaker.”

11. Taika Waititi plays three characters in the film


Everyone knows that Taika plays Korg, the scene-stealing bag of rocks. But he also technically cameos as two others. “I am one of the heads on the three-headed alien, this character called Haju [this may not be correct spelling],” says Waititi. “I'm the head on the right. And I'm also the motion-capture for Surtur," the fire demon who ultimately destroys Asgard (though Clancy Brown provides Surtur’s voice).

12. Yes, that is Thanos’ ship in the post-credits sting

Debate raged on the internet about the mysterious ship which moves in on Thor during the first post-credits scene. Watiti is fairly unequivocal. “I think it's pretty obvious that it's Thanos' ship”, he says, expressing relief that the big purple baddie’s space toilet has finally been retired. “I feel like that chair would take a long time to get around the galaxy.”

Thor: Ragnarok is in cinemas now.

Read Empire’s review of Thor: Ragnarok

Empire Podcast Thor: Ragnarok Spoiler Special With Taika Waititi

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us