Fresh perspectives on Taika Waititi‘s latest for Marvel. Let’s see how Thor Love and Thunder applies the organizing adage: “closer to the problem = closer to the solution”.
Jeanne is a Queer Biracial Tongan media critic and author known for sharing her unique perspective on popular media on Twitter, guest appearances on podcasts, and arguing in bars about temporal paradoxes. https://twitter.com/fangirlJeanne.
Johnnie Jae is an Otoe-Missouria and Choctaw founder, journalist, organizer, creator, and futurist empowering others to chase their passions and create for healing and revolutionary change. She is the founder of A Tribe Called Geek, an award-winning media platform for Indigenous Geek Culture and STEM, and #Indigenerds4Hope, a suicide prevention initiative designed to educate, encourage, and empower Native youth. Jae is a co-founder of Not Your Mascots and LiveIndigenousOK as well as a founding member of the Fan Organizer Coalition.
Jena English is an educator/filmmaker currently teaching film and media at a girls school in Los Angeles. She is also a graphic designer and photographer. Her most recent project is Validation, a web series about the life and times of a parking attendant with a heart of gold. https://vimeo.com/showcase/8749735
“[Blackbeard] is presenting as a queer character, not just within our time, but within his own time” – Tea Fougner.
“It’s historical fiction about pirates if the executive producers were all tumbler users” – Cayden Mak.
Pirate Tea and First Mate Cayden Mak have boarded the show to talk about Taika Waititi and David Jenkins‘ glorious new show on HBO, Our Flag Means Death. It’s a queer pirate romcom with roots in history and a remarkable diverse cast.
The conversation is spoiler-free till about 13 minutes in. There’s a special intro to this episode about a real life crisis that’s happening– and what you can do about it (one place to start – https://transequality.org
Tea Fougner (who is 30% pirate facts by volume) is the editorial director for Comics at King Features Syndicate and co-chair of Programming for Flame Con, the world’s largest LGBTQ+ comic convention. Tea co-modded a 200-person pirate RPG for three years and has a 13-hour piratecore playlist on Spotify. Listen here https://t.co/Abq5wIkips & follow https://twitter.com/teaberryblue
Cayden Makhttps://twitter.com/cayden has spent the past decade organizing people for racial justice leveraging many aspects of technology and pop culture formerly of 19 Million Rising (an Asian American Pacific Islander civic organizing group I love.
A big screen adaptation of the beloved graphic novel The Incal from Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius has taken a major step forward. Taika Waititi will adapt and direct the film. Waititi is collaborating with Jemaine Clement and Peter Warren on the project. It’s the first film for comic and graphic novel publisher Humanoids.
The Incal is a French graphic novel by Jodorowsky and Jean Giraud, aka Moebius. It introduced the “Metabarons Universe.” It was originally published in installments between 1980 and 1988 in the French magazine Métal Hurlant. Additional volumes were releases into 2014, Before the Incal, After the Incal, and Final Incal. It also featured spin-off series Metabarons, The Technopriests, and Megalex.
The story revolves around the Light Incal, a crystal of enormous and infinite powers and the numerous factions that want it. A group comes together to save the universe and stop the forces of the Dark Incal.
Star Wars is seeing Oscar gold as Taika Waititi and Krysty Wilson-Cairns are heading to a galaxy far, far away.
Waititi who won “Best Adapted Screenplay” for Jojo Rabbit and directed the season finale of The Mandalorian will direct a new Star Wars film coming to theaters. Waititi is part of the Disney family as he directed Marvel Studios’ Thor: Ragnarok and will be directing and writing Thor: Love and Thunder.
Wilson-Cairns received a BAFTA Award for “Outstanding British Film of the Year” for the Oscar-winning film, 1917. She, along with Sam Mendes, received Academy Award nominations for “Best Original Screenplay” and the Writers Guild of America Award for “Best Original Screenplay.” Her credits also include the television series Penny Dreadful.
It’s new comic book day! What’s everyone getting? What are you excited for? Sound off in the comments below. While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.
It should be no surprise that after the success of Thor: Ragnarok it looks like director Taika Waititi will be back for Thor 4. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the director has inked a deal to write and direct the follow-up film.
But, that will come at a cost. The long in the works Akira from Warner Bros. will get pushed back. The film was to be released May 21, 2021, and a worldwide search for actors is going on.
The two projects conflict and one has to go, so Akira is losing out. It’s unknown if the project will go forward with Waititi or not but according to the report, Warner Bros. would like to and have him pick up the film after Thor 4.
The last time we saw Thor was in this year’s Avengers: Endgame where he was leaving Earth with the Guardians of the Galaxy for adventures unknown.
Kabam has revealed their latest video for Marvel Contest of Champions, a motion comic featuring a humorous scene with Thor: Ragnarok stars Korg and Miek recruiting Champions for “The Revolution 2.0” – or as he likes to call it, the “Re-Revolution.” As a special surprise, Taika Waititi (Director of Thor: Ragnarok, What We Do in the Shadows and the upcoming Jojo Rabbit) has reprised his role as Korg for the video!
Usually when films get around to their third, the quality dips… a lot, and we’re left with a shell of a franchise that tarnishes what’s come before. Thor: Ragnarok not only bucks that trend, but delivers a film that’s not only the best of the three Thor films released so far, but also one of the best in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Directed by Taika Waititi with a script by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost, Thor: Ragnarok is a visual treat of a film that feels like a comic come to life in many ways. This shouldn’t be surprising as both Kyle and Yost have written comics themselves and have a long history in animated comic based franchises. Pearson was part of the team behind Agent Carter, a television series focused on a kick-ass female lead, which in itself makes some of the film not surprising.
With Odin deposed from the throne the evil Hela returns to take over Asgard and the Nine Realms. Thor is sidetracked as he’s sent to the world Sakaar where he’s forced into a gladiator role and comic book Spartacus. That latter part is a new take on comic writer Greg Pak’s “World War Hulk” storyline that saw the Hulk in a similar role. But, here the Hulk is a companion Thor must win over as we find out where he’s been all these years.
What’s immediately noticeable about the film, beyond it’s different visual tone, is the comedic sense of it all. Waititi is the director behind the hilarious shorts featuring Thor and a roommate and that same humor is here. It’s a dry sense of humor where quips are given back and forth and visual jokes are few and far apart. Chris Hemsworth in the title role plays off the humor well delivering it all with a seriousness that makes it all even more entertaining. But, that humor is also mixed with lots of action that’s well paced and keeps things flowing through the end battle. An action film with comedic elements or is it a comedic action film? That’s a hard one but the laughs were enough that I missed dialogue either because I was laughing or the audience was, making the film one you’ll need to see multiple times to get everything.
But, back to Waititi and the visuals. With an energy about it that feels like Blade Runner, Fifth Element, and bubblegum pop mixed together, the worlds are bright and visually stunning each in their own way. Sakaar is a mixed of colors which enhance each scene and brought into the design of every character. Watching the film I couldn’t help think this was Jack Kirby’s brilliance brought to the screen for us to enjoy. Warriors for the Grandmaster, played by Jeff Goldblum, look like the design of Kirby’s Celestials. The film is almost an homage to his brilliance, fitting for the year we celebrated his 100th birthday. All of it pops in the IMAX 3D I watched the film in.
The movie expands the cast too. Hemsworth is his usual entertaining self getting to up his comedic chops. Tom Hiddleston as Loki has his moments as well but generally plays the mischievous straight man to everyone else’s jokes. Mark Ruffalo, who is a newcomer to the Thor franchise, brings more interest to Bruce Banner and the Hulk, creating a neurotic man both lost and afraid of what might happen. But those newcomers are where things stand out. Idris Elba as Heimdall gets to step up and be a badass in the film, making me long for more Elba in the Marvel Universe. Goldblum brings a cosmic disco sense to it all in his Grandmaster making a villain fun. Karl Urban as Skurge is possibly the low point with just too little to do. But, Cate Blanchett as Hela and Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie are the two real highlights.
Blanchett delivers a villain role that is badass and tragic and very intimidating. She is Thor’s better in every way and this is the first villain in a Marvel film I felt this. She’s not defeated in some battle, she kills unknown amounts of people, and she does it with her own hands. Thompson too rocks as Valkyrie a bounty hunter who has a history with Asgard and Hela. Her initial badassness is confirmed later as the real battle begins and again we get a character who is every bit Thor’s equal. The two women being such highlights makes me think Pearson’s role with Agent Carter might have helped. Two commanding women are not something we generally see in a Marvel film, let alone two that are better than the male lead in so many ways. Hela whips Thors as and Valkyrie gets the better of him again and again. The tide feels like it’s turning a bit when it comes to female characters in comic adaptations with the addition of DC’s Wonder Woman who herself rocked the big screen this year.
The story itself is solid with few flaws and a finale that actually doesn’t disappoint. Third acts generally have been letdowns when it comes to comic films and this is the exception to the rule.
IMAX 3D just immersed me in the movie with moments actually causing me to feel like I was falling and moving too, a fun addition to it all.
Is the film a must see? Yes, on the big screen and preferably in IMAX 3D. Then you can see it again when you realize you’ve missed a lot from laughing and being entertained. One of the best Marvel releases yet and one of the best and most entertaining films released this year.
Thor’s outings in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been. . . uneven at best, to put it kindly. Indeed, Thor: The Dark World remains the unequivocal nadir of the MCU’s otherwise good track record. But given that and Avengers: Age of Ultron also being less than stellar — the last two times we saw our Asgardian hero — you might come in to this film with zero expectations.
Prepare to be blown away by one of the best movies in the MCU and certainly Thor’s best film appearance to date.
Chris Hemsworth reprises his role as the Norse God of Thunder. Reunited with his presumed-dead brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), they track down their missing father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), who reveals a deep family secret — an older sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett), the goddess of death who has her sights set on the Asgardian throne.
Various misadventures find Thor reunited with fellow Avenger The Hulk / Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), against whom he is pitted in gladiatorial combat reminiscent of the storyline in Planet Hulk. They must escape back to Asgard to take on Hela with the help of a recalcitrant Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) who is probably the best part of the movie and given some of the most fun action pieces and one of the best character arcs of any person in the film.
But don’t be fooled into thinking most of this is a Planet Hulk movie. Its roots go far deeper than the relatively recent storyline. But if you take one part Planet Hulk, plus equal amounts Jack Kirby and Walt Simonson classic Thor, that’s the comics cocktail from which this springs.
The ringmaster for this particular circus is director Taika Waititi, who delivers something truly unexpected: a different kind of Marvel movie. One of the most common complaints against the MCU is how similar / unoriginal / mass produced they feel. Thor: Ragnarok defies that claim with its humor, characters, visuals, and soundtrack.
This movie is funny. Of course, that should be of no surprise to those who know Waititi for his time working on Flight of the Conchords or his previous films What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. It’s a very specific humor which is undeniably Kiwi in its politeness, awkwardness, and wry sense of irony — and wholly different from Joss Whedon’s or James Gunn’s much broader humor in The Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy films.
Waititi also brings along some familiar faces to those who know his other films, including Rachel House, who plays a lackey of Jeff Goldblum‘s The Grandmaster in Ragnarok, is very similar to the character she played in Wilderpeople. And Waititi himself shows up (as he is wont to do in his own films) as Korg, a rock-person gladiator who ends up with some of the funniest lines in the film.
Waititi’s work has always been good before, but he’s never been given this big of a canvas to paint on. Wilderpeople especially felt like they spent the majority of the movie’s budget on a climactic, over-the-top car chase full of explosions that would make Michael Bay blush. With the ability to really cut loose — and decades of Kirby and Simonson art to draw from — Waititi gives us some of the most astounding visuals of the MCU so far.
While not quite as mind-blowing as last year’s Doctor Strange, the visualsWaititi seems to be trying to give us a late 70’s/early 80’s psychedelic trip of a sci-fi movie, complete with a soundtrack by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh — heavy on the Devo and John Carpenter synth vibe. Oh, and a heaping helping of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song in case you couldn’t get enough of it from the trailer. Waititi also borrows (steals?) visually from fellow Marvel director Sam Raimi in fun and unexpected ways and includes perhaps the most interesting nod to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory ever.
But a film always comes down to its characters and its themes. And this is where Thor: Ragnarok perhaps shines above many of its other MCU peers. Every character in this film goes on a journey. Their stories, interactions, and dialogue are incredibly well-woven together. Everything has a purpose and eventual payoff. It sits alongside its peer Logan this year for being so well-crafted from a storytelling perspective. One tiny complaint is that it gets a little too bogged down in its own exposition in the middle. It could stand to lose five or seven minutes, but not much more.
And at the end you ask yourself, “So what?”
One of the great joys of being able to analyze movies is to ask these questions. Is this just a cashgrab to get butts in seats, buy popcorn, and sell merchandising? There’s something unique in here, which requires going into very minor spoiler territory. Skip the next 5 paragraphs if you don’t want to know any more.
[Begin Minor Spoilers]
The title Thor: Ragnarok is instructive. Ragnarok — the Norse apocalypse — is the destruction of the world, and in the case of the film and the comics, of Asgard. But it often signifies a form of creative destruction or nihilism necessary for a new chapter.
Hela comes to Thor and Loki replacing their ideas of what Asgard was — a beautiful civilization that loves peace — with the true history that she once rode with Odin making war on the 9 Realms to capture their treasure and slay millions of innocents. Odin cast her out when he decided to switch brands from bloodthirsty warmonger to benevolent father-king, but he kept the gold and trinkets that made him powerful. But after a lifetime, Odin passes onto Thor the wisdom that Asgard is not a place– it’s people. You could just as easily insert for “Asgard” there the names America, Britain, Spain . . . New Zealand.
And so here we are in 2017. Maybe we’re looking at the world with fresh eyes, that the advances of “the West” are built on a bloody history of colonialism, slavery, and other forms of oppression. Perhaps we’re now seeing the chickens of our nationalism, jingoism, sexism, and quest for economic hegemony coming home to roost in the the rise of forces and ideals we long thought dead or outmoded. Perhaps Ragnarok — some creative nihilism — is what we need to wipe the vestiges of former power away to be replaced by a more pure, benevolent rule of law.
Or maybe it’s just a story about two brothers, one of whom has a magic hammer, and it gets smashed by their mean old sister, so they have to recruit a giant green monster to help beat her up. Could be that, too.
ONE OTHER THING (Is it a spoiler to reveal what isn’t in a movie?) If you’ve got your hopes up to see the final infinity stone, just tamp those expectations down. You do get a couple glances at the Tesseract (aka the Space Stone), but we already knew about that one anyway, right? Right. Just enjoy the movie without worrying about it moving that particular storyline forward.
But, of course, make sure you stay through the credits, because. . . well, you know the drill.
It’s likely unfair to castigate the MCU for having movies that feel like they came off an assembly line. While it may have been true previously (again, looking at you, Thor: The Dark World and Avengers: Age of Ultron), it’s worth noting how unique the Marvel Phase 3 films have been:
Captain America: Civil War is a philosophical political thriller and ethical Rorschach test with action set-pieces. (I still don’t trust anyone who is totally Team Iron Man) Doctor Strangeis a psychedelic mystic Hero’s Journey where the real enemy is ego. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2is a family drama where a reluctant patriarch has to lose the last vestiges of his mother and father to become the father he needs to be — and where a raccoon cries at the end as he wonders whether or not there is a god. Spider-Man: Homecomingis a John Hughes movie with superheroes. Black Panther looks to be the most unique Marvel movie of all.
There is a theme running through all of these: the act of creative destruction. In all of these films, our characters have to give up something they love or thought defined them in order to take the next step in their hero’s journey.
Further, family looms large in Cap: Civil War, Guardians 2, and Spider-Man. Family is at the core of Thor: Ragnarok, as it’s essentially sibling rivalry writ large with intergalactic consequences. It’s almost like. . . they actually plan these things out and are trying to say something more broadly about the human condition.
Kudos, Marvel. And Kudos (or whatever the New Zealand equivalent) to Taika Waititi. You have created something unique that blends together some of the best parts of the history of the character of Thor, given us astounding visuals, great music, jokes to make us laugh, action to thrill us, and even some nuggets to ponder.
You’ve given us a film finally worthy of the God of Thunder. Go see this on the biggest, brightest screen you possibly can. And then hug your family and friends. Because even in an apocalypse, home is not just a place– it’s people.