So far the November box office has been ruled with an iron hammer by the God of Thunder's third solo film, Thor: Ragnarok, and it looks like that success will continue this weekend. The film's box office success and critical acclaim have been largely attributed to a tone change and the hiring of director Taika Waititi. We know that Waititi wanted to try something new with the film, and he convinced Kevin Feige he was the right fit. The hilarious director, who also plays Korg in the film, spoke about what he thought he could bring to the Marvel Universe in his normal tongue in cheek fashion, saying:
Full disclosure, I've never made a superhero movie before. So I thought Marvel didn't care anymore. My strengths were tone and that's it. I said, 'You guys can take care of the explosion, I'll focus on what I've done before' and I didn't get fired because I'm a G.
While Taika Waititi is explaining things in his characteristic, humorous way, the point he is making is actually very important. The reason Thor: Ragnarok succeeded with critics and audiences in a way that its predecessors did not has almost nothing to do with the action or the explosions. The film benefitted from a tone change that many people, including Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth, felt the franchise needed. Waititi was able to shepherd this shift and bring his own sensibilities to one of Marvel's funniest movies. As Deadline reported, the director's strengths, including tone, character, humor and dialogue, are what gave him confidence in his ability to tackle Thor: Ragnarok. These elements are far more important ingredients of what makes a great movie than how well things go boom. After all, a movie can excel at action and still be a critical failure.
Taika Waititi proved an inspired choice by Marvel as he reinvigorated the Thor corner of the MCU moving forward. Marvel's decision to hire a director based on their mastery of tone and character is one that has served them well in the past. The studio has a history of hiring directors known mostly for smaller, independent films or TV, and bringing them into the fold. This has allowed each director's unique strengths to stand out in films that still fit in the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is a strategy that, although attempted, for some reason hasn't worked out as well for Marvel's sister studio, Lucasfilm.
With Marvel's Phase Three coming to an end with 2019's Avengers 4, the future of Thor's solo outings remains to be seen, although we have some thoughts about what to do with the character next. Taika Waititi, while not attached to a potential Thor 4, already has some ideas about how to open the film. In the meantime, look through our Marvel movie guide to see what's coming up.