After the lackluster sophomore film Thor: The Dark World, the God of Thunder’s solo franchise needed a serious shot in the arm. Enter Taika Waititi, a relatively unknown director from New Zealand who, despite never helming a big-budget blockbuster before, managed to completely blow audiences away with his first Marvel Studios film Thor: Ragnarok.
It’s only natural for fans to direct their attention to the action on-screen, but there are certainly those of us who are just as interested in what happens behind the camera. If you happen to fit that bill, then this list of 10 fascinating behind-the-scenes facts from Thor: Ragnarokis for you!
‘He’s A Friend From Work!’
Prior to the release of the first trailer, it wasn’t entirely clear how much comedy would be incorporated into Thor: Ragnarok, but that quickly changed when fans witnessed the God of Thunder’s reaction to being reunited with Hulk on Sakaar. However, as hilarious as this moment is, the “he’s a friend from work” line wasn’t the idea of Taika Waititi or even Chris Hemsworth. The line was actually suggested to Hemsworth by a young child who, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, was on-set the day that scene was filmed.Advertisement
The God Of Improv
Scripts are overrated! At least that’s Taika Waititi’s philosophy. According to the director, approximately 80 percent of the dialogue in Thor: Ragnarok was completely improvised, which helped establish a “very loose and collaborative mood” among the cast. This also gave Chris Hemsworth more of an opportunity to showcase his comedic talent, with Waititi stating “He's so good and underutilized in that department. He's legitimately one of the funniest things in this film.”
The Led Zeppelin Significance
When the aforementioned first trailer for Thor: Ragnarok dropped, fans were not only surprised by the style and tone but the soundtrack, which consisted of the classic Led Zeppelin tune Immigrant Song. Given the fact that the song’s lyrics make several references to Norse mythology, it makes sense that it was chosen. However, what makes it surprising is that Led Zeppelin is notorious for refusing to license their music to be used in any form of media. The rare exceptions are typically projects that have some sort of connection to famed rock journalist Cameron Crowe, such as Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Almost Famous.
Lady Sif’s Absence
Neither of the two leading ladies from the first two Thor films, Natalie Portman (Jane Foster) and Jaime Alexander (Lady Sif), returned for Thor: Ragnarok. However, while Portman was vocal about her refusal to return and was explained away on-screen, many fans were left wondering why Lady Sif was nowhere to be found. Well, despite Alexander’s desire to reprise her role, she was unable to do so thanks to scheduling conflicts related to the third season of her NBC TV series Blindspot. Still, some expository dialogue to explain her absence would have been nice.
Tessa ‘The Terminator’ Thompson
Terminator franchise veteran and director James Cameron made waves recently thanks to his very vocal (and frankly misguided) criticism of Patty Jenkins’ superheroine blockbuster Wonder Woman and its depiction of female heroes. However, prior to these comments (back when Thor: Ragnarok was still filming), Valkyrie actress Tessa Thompson revealed that she channeled Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor from Terminator 2: Judgment Day for her performance.
The Bod Of A God
It’s no secret that secret that Chris Hemsworth is in phenomenal shape, but the body of a god doesn’t come easy. To get into fighting shape for Thor: Ragnarok, Hemsworth had to put in grueling workouts six to seven times a week and consume approximately 6,000 calories a day. According to trainer Luke Zocchi, Hemsworth stuck to an old-school bodybuilding regime of lifting a large weight-load for a small number of reps. By the time he reached his peak, Hemsworth had packed on 20 lbs. of solid muscle and weighed in at over 200 lbs. Needless to say, his effort doesn’t go unappreciated, as Hemsworth is currently the only Avengers actor who has a shirtless scene in all three of his solo outings (he has one in Avengers: Age of Ultron, too).
Sam Neill’s cameo as Odin (or rather the actor playing Odin in a play) certainly came as a surprise to most moviegoers, but it also marks a reunion 24 years in the making. That’s because Thor: Ragnarok is the first film that Neill and Jeff Goldblum, who plays the Grandmaster, have appeared in together since the 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park. What’s more, both Neill and Goldblum’s characters now exist in the same cinematic universe as fellow Jurassic Park alum Samuel L. Jackson, who plays Nick Fury.
The ‘80s Influences
If you weren’t aware that Thor: Ragnarok was influenced by a number of classic ‘80s films, perhaps you need to brush up on your movie history. Specifically, though, Taika Waititi has cited 48 Hrs. (1982), Withnail & I (1987), Midnight Run (1988), Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987), and Big Trouble in Little China (1986) as direct influences on either the film’s aesthetic or the Thor/Hulk dynamic. Additionally, he cites the 1969 classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as a source of inspiration.
The Comic Influences
Of course, longtime Thor fans likely care less about what films influenced Thor: Ragnarok and care more about what comics it borrowed from. In addition to the obvious Ragnarok and Planet Hulk influences, the film also incorporates elements from such storylines as The Surtur Saga and Contest of Champions, as well as Skurge’s epic last stand in 1985’s The Mighty Thor #362.
A Starfleet Reunion
Jurassic Park isn’t the only franchise whose cast members were reunited in Thor: Ragnarok. Karl Urban (Skurge) played Dr. McCoy in Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), and Star Trek Beyond (2016); Chris Hemsworth (Thor) played Lieutenant George Kirk in Star Trek (2009); Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Strange) played Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), and Idris Elba (Heimdall) played Krall in Star Trek Beyond (2016).
True, Anthony Hopkins’ Odin didn’t have a whole lot of screen time in Thor: Ragnarok. However, a little Odin is better than no Odin at all, and that’s almost what we had. Initially, Hopkins decided not to reprise his role as the All-Father, but after reading the script, he had a change of heart.
The Infinity Gauntlet Retcon
When a seemingly fully assembled Infinity Gauntlet was spotted in Odin’s vault in Thor and a stone-less one was seen in Thanos’ possession in Avengers: Age of Ultron, many fans were left scratching their heads. Was Odin’s a replica? Are there TWO Infinity Gauntlets in the MCU, a la the Ultimate Universe? Well, it turns out fans weren’t the only ones to notice this inconsistency. To clear things up, Marvel addressed the elephant in the room by having Hela knock the Infinity Gauntlet over and declaring it a fake – a conscious effort by the studio to iron out a nagging wrinkle in its ever-expanding cinematic universe.
Matt ‘Loki’ Damon
Much like Sam Neill, Matt Damon also had a surprise cameo in Thor: Ragnarok, playing the actor who portrayed Loki in a play. However, while this was Damon’s first role in a Marvel Studios production, it’s far from his first time playing Loki. In Kevin Smith's 1999 film Dogma, Damon played one of the main protagonists, an archangel named Loki (a role he played alongside Batman, himself, Ben Affleck).
Skurge, The Cowboys Fan
When we first meet Karl Urban’s Skurge, he’s attempting to woo a pair of Asgardian women by showing off the treasures he accrued. Among them is a pair of M16 rifles that he picked up in Texas, which he lovingly named “Dez” and “Troy.” When said together, it sounds like “destroy,” but this isn’t the only reason behind the names. “Dez” is a reference to wide receiver Dez Bryant, while “Troy” is a reference to quarterback Troy Aikman – two figureheads of the premier Texas football team, the Dallas Cowboys.