The Marvel superhero juggernaut continues to roll into 2016. In addition to a certain, anticipated Avengers smackdown in April, Marvel has seven other projects planned in the wake of its universe-altering finale. Today, they announced one of those movies, Thor: Ragnarok, has secured a director.
According to The Wrap, Taika Waititi has entered into negotiations to direct the third Thor installment. The co-director of vampire spoof What We Do In The Shadows is in talks to bring everyone’s favorite Norse god to the screen for a third adventure. With credits on New Zealand’s Flight of the Conchords, and having beat Zombieland‘s Ruben Fleischer and Dodgeball‘s Rawsom Marshall Thurber to the helm, it seems Marvel is heading back into comedic territory.
Chris Hemsworth, who has three movies left on his Marvel deal, as revealed by Cinema Blend, will return as Thor, alongside Tom Hiddleston as his devilishly charming brother, Loki. In terms of story, much is under wraps but the Ragnarok subtitle hints toward a key event in the comics, which could lead to an apocalyptic shake up of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
With Captain America: Civil War in the cards for 2016, many could forgive Marvel for heavily focusing on their blockbuster, superhero collision, which could ultimately change the direction of The Avengers, as heavily-hinted at in Avengers: Age of Ultron. It’s yet to be determined if Thor will play any part in this movie, but one thing is clear — Marvel is keen on changing the game plan with Phase Three, one that introduces viewers to a slew of fresh new characters.
The decision to choose Waititi may have some people confused. Primarily known for production roles, and with only one film co-directing credit to his name thus far, some may be concerned about Marvel’s decision to let him direct a big-budget extravaganza, especially one with heavy Norse mythology and apocalyptic myths intertwined in the script.
This isn’t the first time Marvel has gambled with their franchise either, something that has rewarded them in the past — comedy directors Joe and Anthony Russo were chosen for Captain America: Winter Soldier. The movie performed successfully at the box office, grossing $714.8 million, almost double that of Captain America: The First Avenger. The Russo brothers are currently finishing production on Civil War, before they move on to future Marvel projects. James Gunn was also a relative unknown before being selected to helm Guardians of the Galaxy, another gamble that paid off to the tune of a $774.2 million gross. Gunn will also direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
It’s fair to say that Marvel Studios has dominated the modern superhero scene since their inception in 1993. The Marvel Cinematic Universe — which collectively combines The Avengers, Ant-Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy — has been the pinnacle of their output, producing twelve movies between 2008 and 2015, which have grossed over $8.95 billion in total. With Thor joining classic heroes such as Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow and Hawkeye, the films have revitalized the comic book franchise and introduced a new generation to the heroes of old.
Phase Three is set to change the landscape of the MCU, however. During the next two years, Marvel is set to expand the universe with a range of new characters. Following Civil War is Doctor Strange (2016), with English actor Benedict Cumberbatch in the titular role. An untitled Spider-Man movie (2017) and Black Panther (2018) are also scheduled to feature in Phase Three, with both characters making their much-anticipated first MCU appearance in Civil War.
It seems to be all change for Marvel. After all, keeping things fresh for the audience is key to the longevity of their franchise. With DC gearing up the competition with Batman, Superman and a Justice League movie, Marvel needs to keep the pace. With Phase Three, they might just be doing that, starting with Civil War in April, 2016.
Thor: Ragnarok opens on November 3, 2017.
[Images courtesy of Marvel and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures]