Before Thor: Ragnarok ever hit theatres, most fans would agree that the character of Thor was in need of a bit of an overhaul. He managed to become a fan-favorite through his first solo film and 2012’s The Avengers team-up movie, but his solo sequel, as well as his overall role in Avengers: Age of Ultron, left a little something to be desired. The respective sequels failed to elevate the streak of the character to make him as essential to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as any other Avengers character. Therefore, for the third film in his solo trilogy, Marvel brought in director Taika Waititi to completely revamp Thor and Asgard.
The director brought his unique style, flair and storytelling prowess to the God of Thunder to deliver what most fans agree to be the best Thor movie yet. Thor: Ragnarok was colorful, energetic, action-packed, hilarious and moving all at once. It was an epic film that not only lived up to the hype of Marvel’s reputation, it also managed to redefine the character of Thor and his place in the MCU. Today, CBR goes behind the camera, and lists 15 mind-blowing secrets that we learned from Taika Waititi himself in the film’s director’s commentary.
15. WHO PLAYED SURTUR?
Thor: Ragnarok dropped us into the middle of the action by pitting Thor against one of the biggest villains from the comics: Surtur, a fire demon from the realm of Muspelheim and the one foretold to bring about Ragnarok. We first see this demon in all his fiery glory, sitting atop his hellish throne while he trades wits with the God of Thunder.
Surtur is bigger than a normal man; he is also generally more “on fire” than your average human being. It was hard to say if the villain was purely a CGI creation, or if there was a motion-capture performance behind the demon. Well, thanks to Waititi, we now know that he was the one who brought the character to life with a motion-capture performance, while Clancy Brown voiced the character for the film.
14. A DC/MARVEL CROSSOVER
What superhero comic fan doesn’t dream of seeing a Marvel and DC Comics crossover on the big screen, of seeing the Avengers cross paths with the Justice League of America? For fans,. it truly is the ultimate crossover, and one that seems like it might never happen, considering the various studios and legalities at play. However, such a crossover already happened in Thor: Ragnarok.
No, it wasn’t a Superman cameo. Instead, it was a shake-weight. Yes, the shake weight that Skurge has in his collection in Thor: Ragnarok is actually tied to DC’s 2011 Green Lantern film, in which Taika Waititi co-starred alongside Ryan Reynolds. In fact, the director revealed that he purchased this very shake weight while he was filming Green Lantern. With that now out of the way, a Batman/Iron Man confrontation is the next logical step, obviously.
13. THIS THOR LOOKS FAMILIAR
When Thor made his return to Asgard at the start of Ragnarok, he discovered that his father Odin (who was actually secretly Loki in disguise) was living a life of leisure filled with snacks and watching theater. The play all Asgardians had gathered to watch was one that told the story of Loki’s heroic death, as seen in Thor: The Dark World.
But while most audience members were surprised to see Matt Damon play the role of Loki, most didn’t recognize the actor who played Thor. If he looked familiar, it’s because he was played by Chris Hemsworth’s own older brother, Luke Hemsworth. The actor, most famously known for his role as Stubbs on HBO’s Westworld, came aboard the film for a quick cameo to portray his younger brother in the play.
12. A VISIT TO THE SANCTUM SANCTORUM
When Thor and Loki reach Earth to search for their missing father Odin, they are quickly side-tracked when they are taken to Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum, giving us the context, as well as the rest of a scene, that was set up in the mid-credits scene of 2016’s Doctor Strange film. But while this scene was featured in Thor: Ragnarok, it was actually shot nine months before the shoot of the Thor film.
In fact, in the Ragnarok director’s commentary, Taika Waititi revealed that he and Chris Hemsworth traveled to London, where Doctor Strange was filming, during the shoot of the Benedict Cumberbatch-starring film. It’s there that they filmed the scenes featuring both the God of Thunder and the Master of the Mystic Arts. This just goes to show how much planning was made in advance by both Marvel and Waititi.
11. HELA’S POWER
In the comics books, Hela is a powerful character who can kill anyone with a touch. As the Goddess of Death, there is nothing much that can stand in her way, really. For Thor: Ragnarok however, her skill set was altered in order to make her a more physical threat, and her power more visually interesting. Instead of being able to kill anyone with a touch, she was made infinitely more destructive with her ability to generate her own weapons.
While facing the armies of Asgard, Hela could create knives, spears, spikes, axes, and swords, no matter how big or small. However, such an impressive power isn’t unheard of in the comic books. In fact, it’s an ability that belongs to another Thor villain: Gorr, the God Butcher. Fans of the comics could recognize this ability, and Taika Waititi confirmed that it was borrowed from the character.
10. SAKAAR: A KIRBY WORLD
Ask any comic book fan, and they will tell you that Jack “The King” Kirby was just as important a Marvel comic creator as Stan Lee. His artwork, his creations and his sci-fi epics offered a guiding hand for many of Marvel’s early cosmic adventures, and Taika Waititi and the rest of the team behind Thor: Ragnarok wanted to make sure that the legendary creator received his proper due.
In fact, in the director’s commentary, Waititi revealed that the entire design of the planet Sakaar, from the the extra’s costumes to the shapes of the buildings and structures and even the bright colors used, all called back to Kirby’s work. The director also said that one of the weapons used on the planet was even based on one of Kirby’s space station design This homage was even apparent in the font used for the movie’s title.
9. THOR ODINSON AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
One of the funnier scenes of Thor: Ragnarok involves Thor, strapped to a chair before meeting the Grandmaster. Around Thor, the technology and equipment around inform him all about Sakaar, its origins and its practices. It’s there that we learn about the Contest of Champions, the wormholes surrounding the planet and the Grandmaster. The presentation is automated, eerie and funny.
The scene obviously emulates famous family-friendly theme park rides over at Disneyland. But that’s not all. We also learned that the chair sequence features music from the Gene Wilder-starring classic, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. This is meant to be a direct nod to the Wondrous Boat Ride from the film, another reference to a theme park ride.
8. THE STORY BEHIND THE FAKE INFINITY GAUNTLET
Back in the first Thor film, Marvel fans were thrown in a frenzy when they spotted an Easter egg of particular interest: in Odin’s treasure room, eagle-eyed viewers had spotted the famed Infinity Gauntlet, adorned with all of the luminescent Infinity Stones. However, with subsequent Marvel films, fans learned that the Gauntlet was not assembled, and that the various Infinity Stones were scattered across the cosmos.
This made fans wonder about the Thor Easter egg. Originally intended as a fun nod to the comics, the reference now went against the master plan of the MCU and everything it was building towards. To fix this, Thor: Ragnarok featured a scene where Hela dismissed the Gauntlet as a fake. According to Waititi, it was very important to include that scene due to the Gauntlet’s presence in the first Thor.
7. THE GRANDMASTER’S HOME DECOR TASTE
If the general Jack Kirby influences weren’t enough of an homage in Thor: Ragnarok, then the Grandmaster’s decorations were a direct reference to The King of comics. In fact, thanks to the director’s commentary, Taiki Waititi informed us that the artwork depicted on the entire mural of the Grandmaster’s chamber is an actual piece of Jack Kirby art.
In case you’re wondering which mural we are referring to, it’s the one located at the back of the room Loki and the Grandmaster find themselves in during Thor and the Hulk’s arena fight scene. What some might have dismissed as a simple homage is actually real artwork from The King himself. It stands as another great nod to one of Marvel’s most important creators, and a very nice touch from Waititi and his design team.
6. STRONGEST THERE IS
The arena fight between Thor and the Hulk was one that many fans were anticipating in Thor: Ragnarok. The two characters had previously fought in 2012’s The Avengers, but the battle was cut short before a clear winner was revealed. Considering that fans constantly debate which of the two is stronger, the God of Thunder or the Jade Giant, Taiki Waititi wanted to join in on the conversation.
In his movie, the director wanted to showcase that, yes, the Hulk and Thor are both massive powerhouses, as evidenced by the brutal hits both fighters deal. It was important to him to showcase that both are evenly matched when it comes to fists. But, there is also the little fact that Thor is an actual God of Thunder – and this, theoretically, gives him a whole lot more power than the Hulk.
5. A STYLISH FLASHBACK
One of the more visually stunning scenes of Thor: Ragnarok takes place when Loki, after a fight with Valkyrie, glimpses a flashback of the female warrior’s battle against Hela. The scene is a sequence of striking images that depict Hela killing an entire army of Valkyries. The flashback is heavy on CGI, and it features a very unique style of lighting to blend in with the dream-like quality of the sequence.
Interestingly, this very style of lighting is actually new, and was invented by two of Taika Waititi’s friends, one of whom starred opposite the director in his previous vampire film, What We Do in the Shadows. This blend of all-new lighting helped give the Valkyrie flashback a flair and a style all its own, and it created one of the more memorable scenes of the film.
4. WHAT’S HEIMDALL BEEN UP TO?
When we find Heimdall in Thor: Ragnarok, he is already living as a rebel in the forest. We come to learn that Odin, who is actually Loki ruling Asgard in disguise, declared him an enemy and traitor, forcing him to live on the run. Considering that Loki was secretly sitting on the Asgardian throne at the end of Thor: The Dark World, this would mean that Heimdall has been on his own for a while.
In fact, in his director’s commentary, Taika Waititi revealed that, according to him, Heimdall was forced out of his role as gatekeeper ever since the events of The Dark World. In that movie, Heimdall went against the orders of the real Odin to help Thor free Jane Foster from Asgard, a crime that undoubtedly led to him being imprisoned. Not one for cages, Waititi believes that Heimdall broke free soon after.
3. THOR’S FUNNIER SIDE
Fans of the MCU might have been surprised to see that Thor was all but a different character in Thor: Ragnarok. He was less serious, and he cracked a lot more jokes than before. This was a a jarring departure for some, who only thought that Thor had been re-invented for this film. However, Thor’s funnier personality actually has an in-universe explanation, courtesy of Taika Waititi.
In the movie commentary, the director revealed that Thor’s change in personality is a result of all the time he has spent on Earth and with his fellow Avengers. Thor spent a great amount of time on Earth throughout his movies, as well as in-between The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Thanks to Tony Stark, Thor has learned a great deal about sarcasm and irony, and this sense of humor and snark has rubbed off on the God of Thunder.
2. THE HULK/BANNER DUALITY
According to the director’s commentary, one of the scenes Taika Waititi is most proud of in Thor: Ragnarok is when Hulk transforms back into Bruce Banner inside the quinjet. Viewers might recall that the scene showcases a brilliant display of CGI effects that illustrate how hard both Hulk and Banner are fighting for control of the body they share.
The scene was important to Waititi, because it was a great display of the duality between Banner and his other half. Both are vying for control, and both aren’t particularly fond of the other. What’s more, Waititi even teased a bit of the future when the director revealed that this duality will continue to come into play and evolve in the next two Avengers film, Infinity War and Avengers 4.
1. WHAT MAKES A KING?
One of the biggest twists and surprises in Thor: Ragnarok came near the end of the film, when Thor battled Hela for the fate of the realm. During their fight in the throne room of Asgard, with a strike of her blade, Hela manages to cut out one of Thor’s eyes. The moment is appropriately shocking, and now we know that it was something that had to happen to the God of Thunder.
In fact, according to Waititi, losing his eye, just like his father had before him, was something that Thor had to go through in order to become the king Asgard needed him to be. The first Thor film started with Thor nearly becoming the new king, but he wasn’t ready then. Only in Ragnarok, when Thor understands what his responsibility is, and what the responsibility of his father was, can he now become the true ruler of Asgard.
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