During an appearance on the Smartless podcast, Waititi expressed his initial apprehension to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a director (and, ultimately, an actor in CGI form). Waititi, who helmed 2017's Thor: Ragnarok and 2022's Thor: Love and Thunder, claims he accepted Ragnarok for the money.
“You know what? I had no interest in doing one of those films. It wasn’t on my plan for my career as an auteur,” shared the New Zealand-born writer/director behind Boy, What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and more. “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.'”
Waititi, 48, continued, “And Thor, let’s face it—it was probably the least popular franchise. 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.”
When asked on the podcast if Marvel executives were concerned with his lack of excitement about the gig, Waititi conceded he was likely one of the last directors on the list of candidates—although Marvel Studios is fond of picking up indie auteurs with a knack for comedy.
“I think there was no place left for them to go with that," Taika said. "I thought, ‘Well, they’ve called me in, this is really the bottom of the barrel.'"
Thor: Ragnarok—a sequel to 2011's Thor and 2013's Thor: The Dark World, widely known as one of the MCU's low points—hit theaters in November 2017 and earned near-universal acclaim along with $853 million at the worldwide box office. Waititi followed up Ragnarok in 2022 with Thor: Love and Thunder, which brought back Natalie Portman, took home $760 million, and was seen by many as a sharp dip in quality.
Below, listen to Taika Waititi's full interview on Smartless, co-hosted by Arrested Development stars Jason Bateman and Will Arnett, alongside Sean Hayes.