Marvel-Comics - Thor: Love and Thunder : virtual press conference with the director Taika Waititi

By Mulder, Los Angeles, 03 july 2022


Thor: Love and Thunder is an upcoming American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Thor, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the direct sequel to Thor: Ragnarok (2017) and the 29th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film is directed by Taika Waititi, who co-wrote the screenplay with Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, and stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor, alongside Tessa Thompson, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Chris Pratt, Jaimie Alexander, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Sean Gunn, Jeff Goldblum, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper. In the film, Thor recruits Valkyrie (Thompson), Korg (Waititi), and Jane Foster (Portman)—who is now the Mighty Thor—to stop Gorr the God Butcher (Bale) from eliminating all gods.

We were at the Thor: Love and Thunder virtual press conference for the french journalists with the director Taika Waititi.

Q :  Hi everyone. We'll switch to English now. Thanks so much for joining us for this press conference for the new Marvel Studios movie Thor love and thunder. This movie is directed by Oscar winner Taika Waititi who was behind the last Thor adventure Thor Ragnarok that grossed over 850 million dollars worldwide here again in Thor: love and thunder he directs rights and plays the role of the lovable rock creature Korg. Taika thank you so much for taking the time to talk to the french journalists

Taika Waititi : All right, nice to meet you all. I can't see anyone.

Q : So you really reinvented Thor with the first movie you directed for the MCU and I think that one caught a lot of people off guard because it was such a departure for Thor. Thor now has become the first Marvel character to lead four franchise films. With this one did you want to stay with the same tone as Ragnarok or were you hoping to kind of go off in a different direction.

Taika Waititi : Well you're right. This is the first time that they've done four films with a hero. For me it's the second . So you know for me there could also be one more. If I do three thought films then that would make sense, but with this film, definitely I wanted to keep that same tone that we successfully used in Ragnarok and that time really just came from, you know, seeing the first two Thor films which were great, and like you know i really appreciated them but what I needed to do to come in here and make it feel like my own thing or to bring my part of myself to the franchise was to really go back to the comic books and embrace the big fun colorful adventures of Thor that you know and that we've seen since then the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. All of that Jack Kirby art and just that bombastic nature of these really larger-than-life characters and adventures and going into Love and Thunder after Ragnarok, I thought as the third Thor film that we probably wouldn't do another one so we put everything we had into that and thought, “Well then, we're done.” Then they said let's do another one. I thought oh my god now we've got to come up with more ideas. Back to the books we went! That's where we found the God butcher and we found the storyline for Jane Foster for the Mighty Thor and those were the two things that we needed just to make this feel like new. You know, just branch off into a new bigger adventure.  I’m really happy that tonally it's consistent.

Q : Well, let's talk a bit more about the influences because there's so many fun influences in the film. There's a little bit of screwball comedies from the 50s with the whole thorn Mjolnir thing. There's the dark German expressionism that comes through with Korg. Talk to me a bit about the choice for that black and white sequence which is so unexpected and who you were paying tribute to with that, if you were.

Taika Waititi :  With that black and white sequence, I was just paying tribute to Truffaut, Obviously that was from Jules and Jim and I really wanted the middle of the movie to stop and just be an homage to François. I mean, I really like that black and white sequence. You know there's so many great black and white comic books you know the graphic nature of just those two tones really lends itself obviously to cinema but to comic book and superhero movies you never really see that. You know Sin city did it really well it was you know super graphic, and like just it's just that black and white was incredible and I think because we promised such a colorful film to the fans to also at the middle of the film to like to have 20 minutes of just black and white also just felt like something new and unexpected for this film. What was the first part that you were talking about?

Q : Well, the romantic comedy kind of that screwball comedy with Thor and the hammer.

Taika Waititi : Well with Thor,  you know he's been around for thousands of years he's had more experiences than we could ever have and it's a very hard character to make relatable to human audiences because of you know just who he is and I think that what we really wanted to do with this film again just with the fans and with what's expected is to do something that tested the limits of Thor and you know what how we identify with a superhero like that and the best way to do that is to give him a midlife crisis and make him feel like he's lost and he doesn't have any purpose and also do something that no one really expects from a really super strong tough character like that is to really test his biggest muscle, which is his heart.  You know to bring in this idea of love and to see what that does to him.

Q :  Absolutely and that's what's so great with the way Chris Hemsworth does it is obviously there is a lot of love in the big heart, but he's also so physically big. Tell us a bit about how Chris's preparation for this movie and the attachment he has to the character

Taika Waititi : So he spent upwards of like six months at least just working on, you know, on getting as big as he could for this character. For this film, it's the biggest he's ever been on screen. You know there was no computer enhancements or anything like that. He was that big you know i remember seeing him on the first day of his arm was literally like that as big as my head and he cares that much about the character and about you know bringing something for the audience that they've never seen before and i think that was just you know a paid off and it was worth it especially in that one scene and you know when we really tap into Chris's real talents. His true assets.

Q : Exactly. We got a new face of course in this movie is Christian Bale. Such a great portrayal of Gorr the God Butcher. Did you pretty much let him lead that portrayal or did you bring him in certain directions to really tap into the way the character is in the comics ?

Taika Waititi : It was a collaboration on that there were certain things where like we our sensibilities are lined on a lot of stuff where we looked at some Chris Cunningham like videos, you know music videos and stuff like the Come to Daddy music video for Apex twin and stuff like that. We just see like really quite scary images of what this character could be and just wanted visually some things that would be remembered. I mean there were points, but you know when we were shooting and we thought, “Man, maybe it's too scary for kids.” You know, he's just scary. I think when you look at him… I think he's scarier than Thanos, you know. I think  he's a monster in the true sense, but also you know Christian is incredible and that's why you hire him. He is incredible at bringing ahumanity to any of his characters. Doesn't matter if they're villains or not and I think with this character in the comic books, as well. He's a sympathetic character. You don't have to agree with what he's doing, but you can understand why he's doing it and that's what really appealed to me about Christian doing this was that you know he can carry that weight and make a sympathetic villain. That is a very rare thing to be able to do 

Q : He certainly does and he makes the theme of loss that comes through in the film so evident too, but what's so great about the film is there is this loss with a serious side, but it is so funny like Thor: Ragnarok was, as well. Where do you find the inspirations for the jokes?

Taika Waititi : The jokes come out of nowhere. Really, sometimes they're on the day like when we're just there and like they'll be like in collaboration with people, like Chris.  You know whoever's around. You know there might just be things that's a mistake someone says and then we'll focus on that and, like, make something new out of that. Other times the jokes have been in there right from the beginning. I try and shoot everything I can and then figure out like what's going to be in the movie later on in the post-production .

Q : One of the journalists said something like, do you think that the MCU needs to lighten up more, kind of like what you brought to Thor?

Taika Waititi : I don't know about that. I mean, I think that everyone needs to lighten up more. I think the cinema is too dark and it's too depressing at the moment and I think it always has been. I think that… you know there's this false idea that comedy is sort of like a lesser art… A lesser form of cinema. Comedy,, I’ll say this to you right now, is harder than drama. it is harder to make people laugh and it's harder to test jokes and to test the tone of a film when you have comedy than a drama. You know a drama is doing well and is successful when nobody's laughing. You know you're making a drama and people are laughing, you're screwed. You know like with a comedy, it's like you have to consistently work on this material and bring people in and with my films, they're not just comedies. You know they're comedies with hearts or they have things where it's, you know, that they are again proposing, you know, human problems and human dilemmas. Like Jane Foster is going through a very human problem and I think they have those things in your film and everyone's experienced somehow, you know, this idea of like someone dying or someone being close to death who's around them you know loved ones and I just love the question that story poses. Like,  what would you do if you had the option of like you know one day as a god or a year as you, you know?

Q : Do you have an answer to that question ?

Taika Waititi : I have children now so I’ll take them with me.

Q : Among the many hats that you wear for this film, of course, you're also an actor. You play Korg,. Just describe to us what a typical day is like when you're both directing and doing the motion capture and acting.

Taika Waititi : It's very normal for me. I’m in all of my films. I’m very used to that. I think that for me it's my comfort zone. It chills me out to be able to act as well and it's also a great way for me to direct other actors because I can be in the scene with them and just say it right in their face. Be there in the immediate vicinity rather than a voice across here, you know, yelling out things a. I can just be there in the moment with them, so I actually find it better to be able to act while on directing.

Q :  What about the influence of Jason Aaron's comics. Obviously, that's where the God Butcher story came from. Did you work with him at all? Did you talk about it at all together ?

Taika Waititi : Jason Aaron  came in. We brought him in mainly during the writing phase. I wanted to have a chat with him about just the themes and ideas, you know, within the stories and then got to bring him into post-production when we were like really trying to balance the tone of the film and like make sure that Korg and Thor and Jane Foster were each being served properly and equally within the film and so that the character arcs were satisfactorily being met and he was invaluable. I mean, he knows the stories more than anyone and so it was great to be able to involve the person who came up with the ideas.

Q : Tell us about getting Natalie Portman back on board when it seemed like after having done her last movie she really wasn't that into coming back. Was it difficult to convince her and how do you think you were able to do that?

Taika Waititi : It wasn't that difficult because I think, you know, the big difference right from the get-go is that she's not just Thor's girlfriend. She's not just the love interest. She got to be a superhero to wield the hammer and be a really powerful character and, you know, a real symbol,especially for young girls watching these films. You better see more and more female superheroes as powerful as the males and, you know, if not more powerful in this film. I think it's very important, but also, you know, if it was me and i was Natalie, that would be a really for me. It'd be a great reason to do that also to have fun and not have to, you know, watch as the man flies around fighting everyone. Like part of them wants to kick ass, as well.

Q : Children have always been an important part of your films and one of the journalists was asking about the use of children in this movie. Was it a way of metaphorically putting the Marvel universe into their hands or was it meant to tap into Phase Four or a little of both?

Taika Waititi : I was thinking that, I’ll be very honest, i have no idea what any of the other projects or anything else that has happened in the MCU. I don't know what Phase Four is. I don't know what any of these characters are. I just watched Ms. Marvel, which I think is the best thing that i've seen in a long time and, you know, i just come try and do my thing. Kevin [Feige] and those guys know what's happening with everything else and I’ll just leave it up to them. But in terms of having the children, that was like a really important part for me because I feel like movies in general are just getting too serious and when you're looking at superhero movies… When i was a kid i grew up in the 80s when i was watching movies that were made for kids, and adults you know, but mainly kids like family films, but like i remember seeing E.T when I was like nine or ten and it just like it blew me away that we could have films like this and i think nowadays, you know, even with Star Wars, with Marvel, with DC…  I feel like kids are being pushed to the side a lot, you know. Like, I think, you know, when i go into Disney+, we look at a lot of these films and kids are like, “Is it okay if i watch that?” I’m like man, it's crazy that a kid has to ask that you know a kid has to ask is it okay to watch, you know, a Marvel movie.  It's like it should be obviously. We want, you know, some of these things are some pretty heavy stuff. Some of the violence is a bit intense. But for me, it was very special to be able to make something that involved kids, you know. Kids would, you know, like we had kid all of our kids are in the movie. Everyone. All of our kids are there. All of the monsters and creatures in the film are designed by our children, you know. They drew all the pictures and, you know, then the VFX vendors turn them into these three-dimensional creatures. So, it's a very special thing for me to be able to do that and also to make something that my kids can watch and come to the film and see and see themselves and have something that they can be proud of too.

Q:  It's interesting that earlier you were talking about how you feel like a bit outside of the whole MCU and one of the journalists was asking about that; like is it complicated to write, direct, create a movie that has to sort of fit into a continuity of others while still being its own thing. How do you strike that balance?

Taika Waititi : Honestly I try not to think too much about it because if I start being concerned with all the other films and everyone else's, you know, work. It’ll become an obsession, so I just have to kind of be selfish and think about, you know, this movie here, do whatever i can, and then not think too much about what happens outside of that and with all of the other three. I mean, there's so many characters so many projects, you know.  They've got 10 more years of things planned, you know.  It’s… I can't keep up with it and so i just come and do the best i can with this one little thing that i got and I’m very protective over Thor.  I feel like a real joint ownership over that with Chris, you know, in terms of like what we've managed to do together 

Q : And you were able to bring in another new face in this one. We were talking about Christian Bale. What about Russell Crowe? How did you convince him to come on and be Zeus?

Taika Waititi : Another new actor! Can't wait to see what he does next! Russell's been a friend of mine for a while and  just the idea of having the Zeus just seemed ridiculous and crazy enough to make sense for this movie. You know, I just think like in terms of a character reveal in the film when he catches a thing and then the camera pulls down that's him, looking sort of similar to his character in Gladiator and it's and when you think about like big heavyweight actors and people who have really kind of like stood the test of time, you know, and they're like really in that pedigree of just the greats for me. Russell Crowe is definitely up there. Christian, as well, is up there, but like, just to see Russell in their role was a really special moment for me!

Q :  There are quite a few Oscar winners in this movie for sure and that's a definite plus. Were you all comparing notes on where you keep your Oscars at home?

Taika Waititi : Anyone keep their Oscars? Found my one the other day.

Q : There's another journalist who was asking about music; the role that music plays in the movie and, obviously, Guns and Roses. It's such a big influence in this one. Where did that come from?

Taika Waititi :  Well, we wanted this film to feel real.  I just had to have a big nod to 80’s rock and the artwork, the fantasy art of the 70s and the 80s and, I mean, really, honestly, just stuff that i grew up with.  You know, when I was a kid, the stuff I thought was cool, you know, and what i thought was cool when i was a kid was He-man and Beastmaster and Conan and just like big stupid fantasy films like that. That's the stuff! I was also into, like all of the artwork that came with, like, rock albums like the Iron Maiden albums and, you know, I was a big fan of Metallica and when I was a kid, I was just really into rock and metal, so it was just sort of more like… I guess it was maybe just more for me this movie.

Q : So tell us about this new technology. Thor: Love and Thunder is the first MCU to use something called “the Volume.” What is that exactly and what does that change for the actors  ?

Taika Waititi :  Basically, the Volume is when you're on a soundstage, you basically create a circular room made of tv screens and they're all linked together and they, you know, you can go as high as you want and you make a ceiling with tv screens as well and you basically project your entire environment on there and what it means is that the scene is lit the from the images from these screens, right. So I’ll be doing it on the Mandalorian where the main character has basically has a mirror for a Helmet and so everything that you're seeing in the mirror all the reflections of the environment is all in camera and it's all there because of these screens and so, for the actors, instead of having a blue or green screen where they have like a tennis ball on a stick and, you know, they're looking at like what am I looking at.  You’re like, “I don't know. It's either like a giant dragon or some sort of monster. We'll figure it out later.” This way, you can see what you're supposed to be looking at and it's like the 20’s and 30’s rear projection method. It's just a more advanced version of that so you can control the environment. You can shoot at magic hour all day long for, you know, months if you want in the same environment. You control where the sun is and you just… You get more in camera feeling with your shooting and it was the first time, I think. It's a really great tool.

Q : Another journalist is looking forward now and saying are there other Thor stories that you'd like to tell on the big screen. To show the evolution, further accomplishments, maybe things you'd like to tap into from the comic books. Like, what are you thinking if you're thinking that ?

Taika Waititi : Ihave not been thinking about it. I just wanted to finish this film and then go and do some other films, and then, you know, if I do another Thor, you know, it has to be with Chris and with Marvel, obviously. But I think over the next couple of years, I’d think about what that could be. I think, again it  has to be something that feels like a challenge, but also unexpected and after, like, the scale of this film… Just how big and crazy this film is, I don't know. You know, like, it just has to feel unique and like something that, you know, that no one could predict. Maybe it's a tiny, small, little independent one, you know. Maybe it feels like, you know, a very small low budget film with Thor in it. It may be interesting.

Q : I saw and you can tell me if this is true or not, that the origin of this movie actually came on opening night of the last one… of Thor: Ragnarok. Is that true ?

Taika Waititi : That's right! We opened the film. We released the film and we went out to dinner; me, Chris, Kevin and everyone, and that night at dinner, we started pitching ideas for another film, if we were to do one, and this idea of Thor being lost, meditating under a tree or whatever, and Korg telling the whole story to some people in a cave and telling the story of like, you know, the last five years for Thor! That all came from them!

Q : Well, I guess with the opening night coming up for this movie, maybe that's where the inspiration could come for the next one. You never know. What was it like shooting in Australia?

Taika Waititi : Australia is an amazing place to shoot. Really great. It was also in the middle of the pandemic, so, you know. And luckily in New Zealand and Australia, it hit less hard than everywhere else, so it was a relatively normal environment to be existing in, down in that city. You know, there were hardly any cases. you know, we were on set every day. We didn't get shut down once. We didn't get any delays, which was amazing, you know. To do like you know whatever 90 to 100 days shoot and not get any delays.

Q :  Just one more quick question from another journalist asking about King Valkyrie played by Tessa Thompson. She's definitely a queer character in the MCU, but it's not overstated. It's not her raised in-story. Do you think that's just the way of the future in film and that's the way we should be?

Taika Waititi : I hope it is the way of the future, because the best way to deal with the stuff is…  You know, i'm sick of seeing films where there has to be a big long monologue about what it's like to be different, you know? It feels, like, very preachy. I understand why we have to have it, but, you know, the big hope is to get to a place where it's just accepted and normalized, and I think how it's dealt with in this film, you know, is a very small part of this film. But, I think it's meaningful enough in a giant Marvel film that, you know, for people to feel seen or that it's just accepted.  It's like, I think just the idea that  no one bats an eyelid around the stuff in these movies where they're just like, “Can we just know you're gay? Can we actually just get to the main issue? Here we've got to rescue these kids!”  You know that stuff is there, that that makes me really happy, but it's not that no one even cares, you know? I think, hopefully, we'll get to that that point where, you know, it doesn't. Even… I'm very happy talking about it, but, where it's like, you know, it's not a talking point in any sense.

Q : Just before we go, a quick word for your French fans?

Taika Waititi : The best French I can do- I can only remember like two sentences from high school, which is 30 years ago, “’Qu’est ce que c’est? .. un cadeau” (in French). What I’d love to say the French fans is, thank you for supporting me on, you know, all of the work that i've done, but especially with the MCU and with the last Thor film, and I know you're going to love this one.  You know we've pushed it further. We're making this film bigger, brighter, bolder, more bombastic, and it's just- You know, it's Thor on steroids! Not the Christian steroids! It's all natural! You're gonna love this film and thank you again for your support!

Q : Thanks for taking the time to speak to us! Have a great day!

Synopsis :
Thor embarks on an unprecedented quest for his own serenity. But his retreat is interrupted by the appearance of Gorr the God Butcher, a galactic killer on a mission to exterminate the gods. To confront this threat, Thor teams up with Valkyrie, Korg and his ex-girlfriend, Jane Foster, who - to his surprise - wields his hammer, Mjolnir, as well as he does. Together, our heroes embark on a harrowing cosmic adventure to try to figure out what is causing Gorr, Butcher of the Gods, to lash out and stop him before it's too late.

Thor: Love and Thunder
Directed by Taika Waititi
Written by Taika Waititi, Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
Based on Thor by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby
Produced by Kevin Feige, Brad Winderbaum
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Christian Bale, Tessa Thompson, Jaimie Alexander, Taika Waititi, Russell Crowe, Natalie Portman
Cinematography : Barry Idoine
Edited by Matthew Schmidt, Peter S. Elliot, Tim Roche, Jennifer Vecchiarello
Music by Michael Giacchino
Production company : Marvel Studios
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios
Release dates : June 23, 2022 (El Capitan Theatre), July 8, 2022 (United States), July 13, 2022 (France) Running time : 119 minutes
Photos : Copyright Marvel / Disney