At this point, you have to know Taika Waiti is gonna Taika Waititi—especially since it’s been long known he isn’t coming back for a potential Thor 5. But the director’s self-deprecating appearance on the SmartLess Podcast, hosted by comedic actors Will Arnett, Sean Hayes, and Jason Bateman, has left some Marvel fans flummoxed and angry.
When discussing why he joined Thor: Ragnarok, Waititi gave an answer describing his Marvel Studios experience in a way that’s been taken as somewhat crass. Perhaps he’s weary of answering the same questions over and over again, or perhaps he’s feeling removed enough by now to slip in some acerbic honesty, but he shared, “You know what? I had no interest in doing one of those films.” Waititi phrased his response un-seriously, with his particular sense of humour, like the time he joked about his Star Wars movie progress. “It wasn’t on my plan for my career as an auteur. But I was poor and I’d just had a second child, and I thought, ‘You know what, this would be a great opportunity to feed these children.’”
He continued to dig into his bit, which is what MCU fans are perhaps acting precious about despite the positive reception of Ragnarok: “Thor, let’s face it—it was probably the least popular franchise,” he said. “I never read Thor comics as a kid. That was the comic I’d pick up and be like ‘Ugh.’ And then I did some research on it, and I read one Thor comic or 18 pages, or however long they are. I was still baffled by this character.”
For those who are familiar with his 2010 film Boy, which features endearing references to the Hulk, it feels like he’s just joking about not caring; at one point, at least, he presumably had at least a casual fan interest in Marvel Comics. It does seem strange that the narrative around directors of color hired by Marvel, like Waititi and Nia DaCosta, sometimes feeds into the idea that they’re ungrateful—but Marvel Studios itself is also be to criticised for how it’s put many creative auteurs through the wringer, including Edgar Wright with his defunct Ant-Man film. So who are you really caping for? Waititi’s Ragnarok follow-up, Thor: Love and Thunder, was fun and still more interesting than the first two Thors.
Still, Waititi has no hard feelings about the next Thor sequel going on without him, and isn’t opposed to working with Marvel again, “I would never feel like they are cheating on me,” he shared, and continued to joke: “We’re in an open relationship, and it’s like if they want to see other people, I’m happy for that. I’d still get back into bed with them one day.”
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