How Taika Waititi finally figured out how to make Thor relatable in Ragnarok

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Oct 19, 2017

Taika Waititi is about to give Thor a major makeover – and it's not just the new haircut. In a recent profile in The New York Times, the oddball New Zealand director revealed how he convinced Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige to hire him to direct Thor: Ragnorok, the third installment in Marvel's superhero saga.

And part of it was his vision to take a fresh approach to the Norse God, starting with the new look that star Chris Hemsworth had been hungering for.

"We Ragnaroked Thor's hair," Waititi told The Times.

"I just ended up being the straight guy," Hemsworth added, regarding how he saw Thor in earlier Marvel movies. "Sort of the guy from another world who the joke was on him half the time. I wanted a little more wit and charm."

Under Waititi's guidance, the actor got his wish with his formerly long blond locks cut short and spiky for the sequel.

According to Taika, in the first two Thor films the character is "basically a rich kid from outer space who comes down to Earth and gets to kiss a cute girl."

Now, said the helmer with a laugh, "This is the most human that Thor's ever been."

Waititi acknowledged he's an unlikely candidate to take the reins on one of Marvel's biggest franchises, given he's better known for directing quirky low-budget indie comedies about indigenous Maori (he's Maori himself) – his 2010 film Boy was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, for example.

But while he didn't think directing a Hollywood blockbuster was his "cup of tea," when briefed to pitch Thor: Ragnarok as a buddy comedy, he likened his take to "Withnail & I in space," referencing the hit 1987 British black comedy about the misadventures of a pair of unemployed actors in late-'60s London.

In this case, Thor's buddy is Mark Ruffalo's Hulk, who, like Withnail, is the unstable one. And the humor comes in watching "just these two people who happen to be superheroes making their way across the universe," noted Waititi, adding that Thor has to "take care of this time bomb and keep him out of trouble."

The director also said fans can expect Hulk to revert to being Bruce Banner, the latter of whom hasn't been seen in two years since Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Thor: Ragnarok hits theaters on Nov. 3.