When it comes to Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there’s no denying that Marvel has outdone themselves on most of their casting choices thus far. Not only have they landed the incredibly talented duo of Lupita Nyong’o and Michael B. Jordan for the upcoming Black Panther film, but they also managed to score Michael Keaton for Spider-Man: Homecoming. However, as great as those casting choices have been, they’ve been nowhere near as unique as the casting for Thor: Ragnarok. Not only did director Taika Waititi manage to land Cate Blanchett for the role of Hela, but they also landed rising actress Tessa Thompson who was a standout in last year’s Creed alongside Jordan. The casting of Thompson as Valkyrie proved to be a huge step for Marvel Studios. For those familial with the character, in the comics, she’s depicted as a white woman with long blonde hair. It was a case of colorblind casting that proved Marvel was hearing the fans and their call for more diversity within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
So when Comic Book Resources had the choice to sit down with director Taika Waititi for his latest film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, they asked him about the decision to cast Thompson in the role. According to Waititi, they went into the casting for Ragnarok with the desire to diversify the cast. And Thompson ultimately proved to be the best choice for the role.
Right from the start we wanted to diversify the cast, and it’s hard when you’re working with Vikings. [Laughs.] You want to be more inclusive and provide a broader representation. And at that point, you have to look at the source material as a very loose inspiration. And then take it from there and go with your gut. Say, “You know what? None of that stuff matters. Just because the character was blonde and white in the comic book. That doesn’t matter. That’s not what [that character] is about.”
People forget that. Die-hard fans will say, “That’s not really authentic to the comics,” but as soon as they watch the movie, and they’re involved in the story, and actually what’s happening, everybody forgets. The fact that we even have to keep having this conversation is ridiculous, because we keep forgetting. Unless it’s the topic of the film, it just shouldn’t even be — what do we even care?
I think the story is king, and you want the best person for the job. And Tessa tested against — we cast a very broad net, and Tess was the best person.
Regarding the stellar cast Marvel and Waititi managed to assemble for Ragnarok, Waititi believes they were able to gather such a tremendous cast because of how well the other Marvel Studios films have been. He also creates Marvel’s reputation as delivering “high quality” products as the part of the reason they’re able to bring in such high caliber talent.
I think a lot of them having seen how good the other Marvel films are, they want to be part of that. Superhero movies are seen like really ridiculous, cartoony things anymore. There’s a time and a point where you really wouldn’t want to touch superhero movies, especially in the mid to late ’90s and definitely in the ’80s. There were a lot of very ridiculous and possibly career-ending move to make if you were an actor. But I think that the reputation of Marvel is very high. The things that they do is very high quality and they tell good stories. That’s the main thing. That’s why I got involved with them as well. At the heart of it they want to tell good stories, and that’s what I’m about as well. I’m not about explosions and the like. I like that stuff. I think it’s fun to do, but it’s not why I became a filmmaker. The thing I love is character and story.
Thor: Ragnarok, which will be directed by Waititi, stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Cate Blanchett as Hela, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, and Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk. Also appearing in the film are Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster, Karl Urban as Surge, Idris Elba as Heimdall, and Anthony Hopkins as Odin. Ragnarok will hit movie theaters on November 3rd, 2017. Until then, you can follow along here for any and all updates concerning the movie.
Source: Comic Book Resources.