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Thor 4’s Taika Waititi went from being New Zealand’s best-kept secret to one of Hollywood’s most celebrated creators. But that wasn’t always the case. When the New Zealander was announced as the director of Thor: Ragnarok, Marvel’s decision left the public scratching their heads. Given the success of the sequel, the director proved himself to the naysayers. The Oscar-winning director revealed how he finally convinced a studio like Marvel to take a chance on him.
Taika Waititi’s rise in Hollywood has been a hard-fought one. But like many directors from outside of Hollywood, executives wanted him to repeat his previous success instead of giving him a real shot. The multihyphenated creator said about his early Hollywood offers:
Every time I’d make a film, I’d come to L.A. and they’d offer me a script that was basically the film I’d just made. And that just meant that that’s the only way they saw me, was in what I’d done and not what I could do. So, I would continue to go back home and make another film that’s completely different to everything else I’d made. And by the time Thor: Ragnarok came along, I’d done four completely different films where you couldn’t really say there’s a particular style that I have.
I must give Taika Waititi kudos for showing the film industry his range rather than giving up his dreams. His story doesn’t sound too far from comparable stories of other prominent figures. Oftentimes, Hollywood wants creators to replicate the work that first caught executives’ eyes. Sometimes, this practice works for translations, but it can also pigeonhole the artist. Fortunately Waititi was able to change the studios’ minds.
During his Interview Magazine conversation with Godzilla vs. Kong’s Eiza Gonzalez, Taika Waititi revealed his versatility caught the eye of Marvel. That’s when Marvel picked him to direct Thor: Ragnarok. He commented on the life-changing moment:
Eventually, someone did say, 'This makes us interested for what’s next, and we’re not going to ask him to continue to do the thing he just did.' That’s when Marvel was like, 'We think you should do Thor.' They were the first American studio to take a big risk on me. Ever since then, more doors have opened, and the people who are at the door have realized it’s more exciting when you don’t know what to expect from someone.