Fans of Taika Waititi may already know the director is fond of improvising, thanks to his background in comedy. But when he took on Thor: Rangarok, we wondered if he might have to button up a little more. After all, Marvel is a corporate studio with big budget expectations. This week, however, Waititi and the cast of Thor: Ragnarok said they were all given fairly free reign, with Waititi noting he expected to be reigned in somewhat but that a call from Marvel's Kevin Feige never came. In fact, he says that he and the cast were able to improv "probably 80%" of the movie. He has a specific way of attempting this improv, as well.
My style of working is I'll often be behind the camera, or right next to the camera yelling words at people, like, 'Say this, say this! Say it this way!' I'll straight-up give Anthony Hopkins a line reading. I don't care.
Taika Waititi is clearly into the improv model, telling MTV at Comic-Con that he would throw out a bunch of stuff to try and they would see what stuck. He's not the only person with ideas, though. Recently Thor: Ragnarok lead Chris Hemsworth revealed that it was a Make-A-Wish kid visiting the set who gave him the idea to talk about how he and Hulk were friends from work, a line that is one of the highlights of the trailer for the movie.
So, it seems like improvising worked out for the cast and crew, who attempted it at every turn. And Taika Waititi also took the opportunity to make it clear that he had no issues dealing with Marvel, who he says was open to his creative vision for Thor: Ragnarok. All in all, it sounds like working together was a good fit for the studio and the director.
They say go for it get in the sandbox, throw everything around and see what you come up with. And then we know the rules of our universe, what we want, and so now we'll start helping you shape it into something that fits into your universe. It's actually the perfect model. Because as a filmmaker, you want to be left alone.
If you've been keeping tabs on the interviews Taika Waititi and co. have been doing recently, just the other day, they bandied about a 95% improvisational rate, so there's clearly some room for variation, here. The key takeaway though is that the cast and crew of Thor: Ragnarok seemed to really have a good time on set and used the improvising as a way to flex their creative muscles and try something new. Hopefully, this new direction for Thor will be a good and fitting one.