When asked what fans can expect from the latest instalment of Thor, director Taika Waititi somewhat unhelpfully says it will be “Taika-esque”.
Asked if he could perhaps describe it in literally any other way, he laughs. “I can’t! There’s no way!”
As far as whetting the appetites of Marvel fanatics goes, it’s a little counterproductive. Thor: Ragnarok will be watched by many more people who are familiar with the franchise than those who know Waititi’s work – but this may be the film that makes the New Zealand director a household name.
The big-budget Thor is a far cry from the Flight of the Conchords, of which Waititi wrote and directed a few episodes, and from What We Do In The Shadows, the 2014 vampire mockumentary he made with Jemaine Clement. And it’s almost the antithesis of Hunt for the Wilderpeople: the family friendly little-Kiwi-film-that-could, which was a surprise hit at box offices around the world last year.
But while the types of projects may differ wildly, his treatment of them – the bit that makes them “Taika-esque” – doesn’t. Even Waititi’s government-funded anti-drug-driving campaign, Tinnyvision – made in collaboration with Snapchat in 2014 – has the same warm, sly humour of his features.
And yet, after 41 years’ experience of being “Taika-esque” himself, he still struggles to describe it.
“If someone asked, ‘What are your films like?’, the best I can come up with is that they’re, like, a fine balance between comedy and drama. And they deal mainly with the clumsiness of humanity.”
Well, that’s definitely true of Tinnyvision.
As evidenced by his decision to set Ragnarok outside the Marvel universe – a ballsy move, given the size of the fandom and budget in question – Waititi is one to do things his own way. And it’s paying off.