FOR one who grew up reading rented superhero comics in newsstands along Juan Luna S. and in F. Ramos supermarket during the late ‘60s, today’s movie adaptions of Marvel and DC heroes bring out the fanboy in me – curious, excited and entertained.
I am sure it was the first Superman movie with Christopher Reeve in 1978 that set the bar on how a superhero should be on film. When Tim Burton took on “Batman” in 1989 starring Michael Keaton, the bar was raised higher. Then came “Spider-Man” (2002) that had Tobey Maguire, “X-Men” (2000) and the rebooted and dark “Batman” (2005) directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale.
The DC Justice League Universe had to play catch up starting with “Man of Steel” in 2013 and seems to have found its stride in “Wonder Woman” (starring Gal Gadot) only this year. The upcoming “Justice League” (with screenplay by “Thor” director Joss Whedon) should put DC back in the race with Marvel.
Which leads me to the Mighty Thor, who tops my list of superheroes. I even used Thor as the theme of a speech when I was a commencement speaker about 25 years ago. The first two films “Thor” (2011) and “Thor: The Dark World” (2013) with Chris Hemsworth in the title role were serious films bordering on Shakespearean. Tom Hiddleston (as evil brother Loki) at times stole the scenes of Hemswort,h who needed to keep the strong and straight-faced image of the God of Thunder.
When it was announced that New Zealand director Taika Waititi would direct “Thor: Ragnarok,” I was a bit dumbfounded. For the record, two of his films, “Boy” and “Hunt for The Wilderpeople” are the highest grossing domestic films of all time in New Zealand. I loved the fun and Kiwi-ness of the humor in these Maori-family oriented comedic films. It just seemed a tall order for Waititi to direct a big-budget superhero film.
In early scenes of the film, I thought Waititi might have gone overboard by turning Thor into a clown; but he didn’t. Instead he kept the Norse God close to persona, and introduced the scene-stealer Korg, the Kronan rock warrior who befriends Thor. Not only are the banters between Thor and Korg funny, but the Kiwi Maori accent of the latter is unique, if not charming.
Probably, Disney and Marvel might have picked the Kiwi director because “Thor: Ragnarok” was about family – father Odin, brothers Thor, and Loki and their sister Hela, the latter wanting to take Asgardian throne. Like any superhero movie, the highlight is the action sequences and “Thor: Ragnarok” delivers big-time.
There is no doubt that “Thor” will reach $1-billion at the box office. Once that happens, Waititi will join another Kiwi director, Peter Jackson (“The Hobbit,” “The Lord of the Rings”) in that elite club. Not bad for an indie film director from the nation of 4.6 million, New Zealand.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on November 11, 2017.
Latest issues of SunStar Cebu also available on your mobile phones, laptops, and tablets. Subscribe to our digital editions at epaper.sunstar.com.ph and get a free seven-day trial.