Taika Waititi is experiencing a rough patch in his career when it comes to the quality of the final project. Films such as Jojo Rabbit, Next Goal Wins, and Thor: Love and Thunder have earned him awards and have their supporters, but they fail to reach the high points of his earlier films. That said, not all of his pivots to mainstream have been misfires. Thor: Ragnarok is a delightful romp and a highlight in the MCU canon. The film brought spark back to the stories of Thor, who as a character had been let down by either poor writing (Thor: The Dark World) or bad characterization (any Avengers film).
However, when asked on the Smartless podcast, Waititi admitted to initially having no interest in doing one of those films, mentioning that even as a kid, he never read Thor-based comics. While he goes on to say that he had a great time working with Marvel and lead actor Chris Hemsworth, it’s clear he’s working to establish himself away from the major studio.
“It wasn’t on my plan for my career as an auteur. 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.”
If you also gagged a little at the line “my career as an auteur,” I don’t blame you. Waititi’s tone is often flippant, but there’s a hustle and ego to him that most (male) directors possess if not openly express. No shame in someone taking on a gig for the money, especially if it allows them to tackle smaller projects moving forward that better express their creative vision. The problem is that since doing the Thor franchise, it’s not like we’ve seen great projects that uh, speak to those auteur aspirations.
He also hasn’t shied away from conversations with bigger names and producers, with his name being floated for projects involving the Star Wars universe to the live-action adaptation of Akira that should never, ever, happen. His name is now also attached to the film adaptation of the novel Klara and the Sun.
Looking ahead to whatever big, “auteur-friendly” film he releases next, here’s hoping it’s better than Next Goal Wins and lives up to the standards he holds himself to.