The director hopes his next film Thor: Ragnarok will be "Taika-esque"
Director Taika Waititi, who wrote the first screenplay for Disney’s Moana, has revealed he is relieved that it “was not insulting to Pacific cultures”.
Speaking to The Guardian, Waititi discussed his upcoming film Thor: Rangnarok, Marvel and his original screenplay for Disney’s Moana.
Speaking of Marvel’s latest iteration of the Thor franchise, Waititi described it as “Taika-esque”. When probed to expand on this description, the director simply said laughing, “I can’t! There’s no way!”
The New Zealander may not be household name yet but attaching a big-budget Marvel film to his resume would be a step in the right direction. That’s not to say his previous work was necessarily unheard of. The director wrote a few episodes of television show Flight Of The Concords and was praised for What We Do In The Shadows, the 2014 vampire mockumentary he made with Jemaine Clement.
Boy and Hunt for the Wilderpeople also became top grossing New Zealand films.
Speaking of his work, Waititi said, “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.”
One of Waitit’s biggest claim to fame was writing the original screenplay for Disney’s Moana. The New Zealander, who is half-Māori himself, had written the first script just before opting to make What We Do In The Shadows in New Zealand. “I basically didn’t want to be living here, working in an office, writing someone else’s movie,” he says.
He jokingly added that the only thing that remains from his original script is, “EXT: OCEAN – DAY”.
“I was relieved it was not insulting to Pacific cultures. That was a big worry for me. I was very nervous about it. You often ask yourself, ‘Oh my god, do I get involved with something like this?’”
Waititi’s original script focused more on Moana’s family relationships and added “very Pacific humour” to the film, according to producer Osnat Shurer. Shurer said his script gave the filmmakers “permission to continue down that road because he’s from that culture”.
However, Waititi said they could have pushed it further. Laughing, he said, “I know the danger is they’ve got to be respectful but Pacific islanders and Polynesians have some of the least respectful humour on the planet.”
“[But], as Americans making a film about another culture, and having been criticised in the past for their depictions of minorities, they have to be a bit safer.”
Waititi is often promotes New Zealand’s indigenous through his work and even told BuzzFeed that it was his responsibility to hire Indigenous people to work on Thor: Ragnarok.
“It’s a responsibility you have to the Indigenous people. You’re coming to a country and you’re bringing money into the economy and creating jobs but I think you have an even bigger responsibility to look after the people that have less opportunities.”
Thor: Ragnarok has an initial release date of 27 October 2017.