The first teaser for “Thor: Ragnarok” that dropped on Monday confirmed what many Marvel fans have been suspecting for months: filmmaker Taika Waititi is about to breathe hilarious new life into the franchise. The trailer ends with a comedic twist when Thor — upon learning that his opponent in a gladiatorial battle is the Hulk — starts celebrating rather than cowering with fear.
“We know each other!” Thor says to Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster. “He’s a friend from work!” Unfortunately for Thor, there’s no indication that the Hulk is going to go easy on the Norse god.
Injecting fight scenes with Waititi’s deadpan sense of humor represents a new comedic direction for Marvel, but the New Zealand-born filmmaker has been coming up with fresh takes on fight scenes for years, starting with his 2007 debut feature film, “Eagle vs. Shark.” Here are five examples that prove Waititi is a perfect fit for the Marvel universe.
“Eagle vs. Shark” (Jarrod and Lily)
Shooting a great fight scene where the fighting takes place entirely on a video game is almost impossible, but the droll Fight Man tournament in Waititi’s “Eagle vs. Shark” has a clever twist that makes up for the lack of action. While blood splatters in the video game battle between Lily’s “Dangerous Person” avatar and Jarrod’s “Eagle Lord,” sparks fly between the two characters in real life, hinting that these mortal enemies are actually destined to fall in love.
“Eagle vs. Shark” (Jarrod and Eric)
Starting a fight with someone in a wheelchair is just wrong. Losing the fight is just pathetic, if also hilarious. When Jarrod confronts his high school nemesis Eric, the “fight” turns into a dark comedy of errors. A slow motion sequence of Jarrod using nunchucks on a handicapped person is jarring, but before long, Jarrod finds himself in a headlock, despite the fact that his opponent is paralyzed from the waist down. After an entire movie of building to this climactic moment, Waititi somehow makes it so that the audience is rooting against the hero.
There are too many unconventional fight scenes in Waititi’s second feature film, “Boy,” to pick just one, but the trailer for the film captures some of the best moments, like when the main character of Boy explains the legend of his father, Alamein (played by Waititi). “He holds the record for punching out the most people with one hand,” Boy says over a slapstick montage that shows Alamein standing over a dozen knocked out rugby players. In another scene, Alamein breaks out of prison, narrowly escaping a guard by stabbing him in the eye — with a spoon.
“What We Do in the Shadows”
“What We Do in the Shadows” contains the pettiest fight between two vampires in any movie. The scene starts when Deacon tells the newly-bitten vampire Nick to “Shut up,” adding, “You’re not ‘Twilight'” and “You don’t even know who Dracula is!” The shoving match quickly escalates into a bat fight, until Deacon turns back into a vampire and throws the bat version of Nick against the wall like a baseball. “That wasn’t fair, man,” Nick says, complaining that Deacon ripped his jacket. Theres’ nothing scary about this vampire duel, but that’s the point.
“Hunt for the Wilderpeople”
“Shit. Just. Got. Real!” problem child Ricky Baker says while cocking a rifle in a scene where his foster parent Hector fights three hunters in the New Zealand bush. The only conflict stems from a hilarious misunderstanding involving molestation, but Hector and the hunters come to blows and shots are fired. “Back up homies,” Ricky says, coming to Hector’s defense. “Yeah,” Hector says, taking the rifle. “Shit just got real.”