Beginning with Captain America: Civil War and the absurd numbers it achieved in the box office, it is clear that Phase Three of the Marvel Universe is in full swing.
Thor: Ragnarok, premiering November 3, 2017, is probably the Phase Three addition that has fans the most inquizative.
Thor -- while an integral part of The Avengers -- hasn't had the best of times in his standalone franchise. The first Thor film in 2011 wasn't bad, and it introduced Thor into the MCU, but it didn't really wow fans either. It served as a setup for The Avengers, and that was really it. Thor: The Dark World came around in 2013, and did much of the same thing. It served as a placeholder so we could see what Thor and his brother Loki were up to while Earth wasn't in any immediate danger. After two lackluster outings, it's easy to see why fans would be hesitant to jumping with joy for the third film of the trilogy. Sure, it's our chance to see Loki and the Hulk hang out in space, but there's been nothing to prove to us that Thor can have a great standalone movie.
Fortunately for fans, director Taika Waititi happens to be the perfect man to turn the ship.
If you travel in horror or cult comedy circles, Waititi is a name you might recognize.
After getting his start working with Flight of the Concords, Taika debuted his first feature length film in 2013 titled, What We Do In The Shadows. The film, starring Waititi and Concords star Jermaine Clement, was a mockumentary following a couple of vampire roommates living in modern day New Zealand. While it was a huge hit among fans and critics, it didn't really build enough of a resume to get anyone excited about his direction for Thor. But, it proved he knew how to handle comedic timing and that he could connect with an audience.
Every doubting thought about Thor: Ragnarok should be immediately reversed.
The film is not in the hands of some up-and-coming director anymore.
It is in the hands of someone -- like James Gunn and the Russo Bros -- who knows exactly what it meant to bring comedy into a big world without taking away any of it's consequences.
There were times throughout another Waititi film -- Hunt for Wilderpeople -- where audiences are left laughing their asses off while leaving them on the edge of the seat, nervous for the characters.
On top of blending the two most important elements that make a great hero movie, Waititi showed that he was a master of large landscapes. The way he incorporated the jungles of New Zealand and made every shot look equally as beautiful, it puts to rest worries of how Agard will be portrayed. This is man ready to really give fans the Asgard they deserve.
While the first two films have looked great, they seemed to have lost the ability to make the setting a real character in the film. Remember When Harry Met Sally? You know how, in that film, the city of New York was a character, not just a backdrop? That's what Waititi did the New Zealand countryside. And that's exactly what he's about to do with our beloved home to the gods.
As if Waititi's skill as a filmmaker wasn't enough, he has begun to fill the film with an incredible cast.
Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Jaimie Alexander, Idris Elba, and Anthony Hopkins are all returning to reprise their Asgardian roles from The Dark World and they are being joined by some of Hollywood's finest.
Mark Ruffalo is bringing his hero, Bruce Banner into the fold as he wrestles with being both man and Hulk. Judging by his history with Loki, I'm sure he will give us a fun performance.
Tessa Thompson (Creed, Selma) will be bringing her talents to the MCU as beloved hero Valkyrie. While the character plays a huge part in Thor's story, she has the opportunity to cross over and join the Avengers as well. Veteran actor Jeff Goldblum (Independence Day, Jurassic Park) and Oscar-Winner Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, Carol) will be joining the film as the wise Grandmaster and the villainous Hela, respectively.
Rounding out the cast is an actor who is no stranger to comic book movies or sci-fi epics. Karl Urban (Star Trek Beyond, Dredd) will be playing the role of Skurge, and I'm sure comic fans are excited to see one of their favorite actors join the universe. This may be one of the most star-studded casts of the MCU, and Waititi now looks like a casting genius by bringing all of these exceptional actors together.
What We Do in the Shadows is available on HBO GO as well as HBO Now, while The Hunt For Wilderpeople will release to screens in the U.S. on June 24.