Ladies and gentlemen, production is now officially underway on two Marvel Studios films. Spider-Man: Homecoming started rolling cameras last month, and as of yesterday the sequel Thor: Ragnarok has begun principal photography in Australia. The third installment in the Thor franchise looks to be the best one yet, as Marvel not only enlisted a very different kind of director for the follow-up, but also put together one hell of a cast that includes Cate Blanchett as the villain and Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk/Bruce Banner in a co-starring role.
Director Kenneth Branagh brought an elegance to the first Thor, and Alan Taylor—in his feature debut following solid work on Game of Thrones—moved the franchise to a darker (and duller) place with Thor: The Dark World. For Ragnarok, Marvel is reversing course as evidenced by the hiring of What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople director Taika Waititi. He’s an inspired choice, as his films thus far prove a penchant for timing, humor, character-centric storytelling, and inventive set pieces. Here’s hoping that carries over into the Marvel universe.
As for the story of Thor: Ragnarok, things are very much under wraps, but the film’s characters give us a solid idea of what to expect. Blanchett plays Hela, a powerful villainess who in the comics was appointed goddess and ruler of the northernmost realms of the dead, where she oversaw the souls of all who did not die in battle. As Odin’s focus grew more broad, Hela attempted to annex the realm of Valhalla, which houses the souls of whose who did die in battle, leading to a pretty epic war. We also have Creed standout Tess Thompson as Valkyrie, the idealistic feminist leader of the Valkyrior, the custodians of Valhalla. And then there’s Karl Urban as the villainous Skurge, likely a more physical antagonist for Chris Hemsworth’s hero to give us some serious fisticuffs onscreen.
And tying it all together—and quite possibly tying Ragnarok into the larger MCU as the lead up to Avengers: Infinity War—is Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster, one of the oldest living beings in the universe and one of its Elders, who is capable of traversing space, time, and the dimensions.
Filming on Thor: Ragnarok will continue through October. Its November 3, 2017 release date marks Marvel Studios’ second film of next year, with Spider-Man: Homecoming arriving on July 7th. Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, and Anthony Hopkins also star. Check out some tweets from Marvel filmmakers below marking the start of production.
— Taika Waititi (@TaikaWaititi) July 4, 2016
— Louis D’Esposito (@louisde2) July 4, 2016