Taika Waititi says Marvel could 'change everything' about Natalie Portman's Thor: Love and Thunder character
Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit stormed awards season like a bolt of lightning, but the writer-director’s upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder may or may not find a silver lining on one of the darkest clouds hovering over the film’s source material.
The Oscar-winning filmmaker and actor has revealed that Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster — set to take the reins from Chris Hemsworth as the first female Thor in the forthcoming Marvel sequel — might undergo a narrative shift when the movie hits theaters next year, adding that the character’s cancer diagnosis (which played a large role in the comic books series upon which the film is based) could change in the translation from page to screen.
“We don’t know. That comics run was a big inspiration, and was an influence on the first few drafts,” the 44-year-old told Variety on whether Foster will have cancer or not in Love and Thunder. “But at Marvel, we always change everything. I could say one thing right now, and in two years, it will be the complete opposite — or that thing won’t exist. We continue writing even in post-production.”
He also told the publication he’s open to having the film explore the sexuality of Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie.
“I think so. The IP is not mine. But with the actors, I feel whatever makes them comfortable — whether they feel like there’s a natural choice, or a natural way for that character to go — then I’m pretty supportive,” he said when asked if he’d like to portray the character as explicitly queer. “If Tessa wanted to do that, I’m in.”
Outside of the Marvel universe, Waititi became a superhero to many in his own right at Sunday’s Oscars ceremony, where he became the first person of Maori descent to win an Academy Award for writing Jojo Rabbit‘s adapted screenplay. He dedicated his victory to his indigenous children, though he told Variety the evening wasn’t all a celebration.
“You know inherently human beings are good. But even driving to the awards yesterday afternoon, we came up Highland and there were all these Trump supporters who were screaming at us and flipping us off. And screaming, ‘Four more years! Four more years!’” he remembered. “It takes a lot of effort to get out of bed and go down to Highland and wait for black SUVs to drive past and tell people who work in the movie industry that they’re evil and that gays should go to hell. That’s a lot of effort! So some part of me feels like, ‘If they’re going to make that much of an effort, I might as well make an effort as well.’ It’s too easy to think, ‘Oh, well — they’re dummies. I won’t do anything about it.’ I think that’s what they rely on.”
Divisive politics are, in part, what inspired Waititi to write Jojo Rabbit, billed as an anti-hate satire that follows a young boy (Roman Griffin Davis) initially sympathetic to Nazi logic but who ultimately endures a change of heart after meeting a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) his mother (Scarlett Johansson) has hidden inside the walls of their German home.
“I just thought, I’ll take that story and add Taika-isms. And if I want to show a kid conflicted between two sides of his conscience, how can I do that?” he said of the decision to include a fictionalized version of Adolf Hitler (played by himself) as the boy’s imaginary friend throughout the film. “I don’t want to show shots of him like most filmmakers do, walking through wheat fields. There might be a smarter way to show how his conscience manifests itself.”
Read Waititi’s full Variety story here.