‘Thor: Ragnarok’ director says up to 80 percent of the film was improvised

Despite the fact that dozens of directors have helmed Marvel films, the MCU has retained a relatively consistent look and feel. That said, we’re beginning to wonder if Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok is ready to break the mold in a major way.

With a penchant for comedy and a habit of appearing in his own films, The Hunt for the Wilderpeople helmer seemed an intriguing-yet-curious choice from the start. While some wondered how the director would handle a major Hollywood franchise, most of those folks’ fears were allayed by the awesome teaser and then the even awesome-er Comic-Con trailer. Colorful, fun, and epically retro, both spots piqued our interest by teasing a fresh, fearless approach to a genre that may just be getting the slightest bit stale.

As excited as we are for Waititi’s film, however, we can’t help but be a bit concerned about what he told MTV about its use of improv, not typically a convention of superhero films. The director admitted that “about 80 percent” of the film was off-the-cuff and expressed surprise at the amount of latitude he was given to innovate.

“Mark Ruffalo would be finished shooting for the day,” said the director, “and he’d come up to me and he’d be like, ‘Why have we not been fired yet? We are doing the most insane stuff in this film, so where’s the phone call?'”

The director went on to detail his irreverent, shoot-from-the-hip style, saying, “I’ll often be behind the camera, or right next to the camera yelling words at people, like, ‘Say this, say this! Say it this way!’ I’ll straight-up give Anthony Hopkins a line reading. I don’t care.’”

For the uninitiated, a line reading is when an actor or actresses is directed to deliver a line in a specific way. While it’s relatively rare for legends like Sir Anthony Hopkins to be micro-managed to that degree, it sounds like Waititi sought to establish an informal, anything-goes environment in which such a move wouldn’t be a sign of disrespect.

There’s a thin line between off-the-wall (often a good thing) and off-the-rails (almost always a bad thing), but everything we’ve seen so far suggests that Waititi will stay on the right side of it.

We’ll find out for sure on November 3, 2017, when Thor: Ragnarok hits theaters. The film stars Chris Hemsworth, Idris Elba, Cate Blanchett, and Mark Ruffalo, among others.

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