Marvel Studios' latest, Thor: Ragnarok, introduced a slew of new characters to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including Hela (Cate Blanchett), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), the Executioner (Karl Urban), the eccentric Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) and breakout character Korg (played by director Taika Waititi), a rock-like Kronan and wannabe revolutionary who was imprisoned on junk planet Sakaar and forced to fight in the Grandmaster's gladiatorial arena.
“I knew I was going to play something in the film, because I always put myself in my films, but I didn’t know what,” Waititi shared with Business Insider. “He was one of the few minor characters that hadn’t been cast yet so I decided to do that one.”
Waititi revealed Korg's role expanded when the cast would sit down for read-throughs of the script, and he and star Chris Hemsworth couldn't help but keep coming up with jokes for the soft-spoken scene-stealer.
“We would start getting into those scenes and I would play with the voice and we thought wouldn't it be funny if this big hulking rock guy had this very delicate voice?” said Waititi, who hails from New Zealand. “I kind of based it on people I remember from home. So it's a strange combination of a big guy with a gentle-natured presence. Chris was loving that when we started doing those scenes, and we started shooting some stuff.”
“We injected him into more and more scenes and before you know it he was all over the movie,” Waititi said.
Hemsworth previously revealed he and the filmmakers wanted to "reinvent [Thor] and the world and do something completely different," adding that much of Thor: Ragnarok was "highly improvised," giving a silly character like Korg the perfect opportunity to shine as a scene-stealer with moments like...
After Thor ends up on the backwater planet of Sakaar, he's quickly captured and imprisoned by the Grandmaster's forces. The Asgardian Avenger is brought to the Grandmaster's arena where he meets Korg and Miek, a pair of Sakaaran warriors. "This is my very good friend Miek," Korg says, simply. "He is an insect and has knives for hands."
Despite his status as a supposed battle-hardened gladiator, the overtly friendly Korg befriends the incarcerated Thor, who is the newest of the Grandmaster's "champions" to be forced into combat.
"Well, I tried to start a revolution, but didn't print enough pamphlets so hardly anyone turned up," Korg explains of his situation. "Except for my mum and her boyfriend, who I hate. As punishment, I was forced to be in here and become a gladiator. Bit of a promotional disaster that one, but I'm actually organizing another revolution. I don't know if you'd be interested in something like that? Do you reckon you'd be interested?"
"I'm made of rocks, as you can see, but don't let that intimidate you," Korg tells Thor. "You don't need to be afraid unless you're made of scissors. Just a little rock, paper, scissors joke for you."
It's that kind of laid back and charming Kiwi humor that made Korg a standout character in a colorful space opera where nearly every character gets in some good gags. When Thor acknowledges that his newfound friend is composed of rocks, Korg offers a small amendment. "Perishable rocks," he says, noting that his job is to serve as a warm-up fighter whose bouts in the arena precede the marquee battles.
Korg explains the Grandmaster has a champion — unbeknownst to Thor at the time, it would be his Avenger teammate the Hulk — and that everyone who goes against this fighter died, including Doug. When Thor confidently says he'll best the Grandmaster's champion and win his freedom from Sakaar, Korg takes to calling the golden haired god "New Doug."
While Thor is jailed on Sakaar in his circular cell, he's visited by a projection of his unscrupulous trickster brother Loki. Korg, demonstrating reflexes faster than even Drax's, launches into an attack against Loki's magical hologram — only to learn, as Thor did, that Loki was physically somewhere else.
"PISS OFF, GHOST!" he yells, kicking at something that was never present.
Korg would later meet Loki in the flesh, when Thor left his opportunistic half-brother behind on Sakaar. "Hey, man," Korg says, "I'm Korg. We're gonna get outta here on that big spaceship. Wanna come?"
"Well, it seems that you are in dire need of leadership," Loki says, taking advantage. Korg replies with a gleeful "Thank you!" and boards the ship that will later be used to shepherd the Asgardian population away from their impending doom.
When Korg meets Thor, the displaced Asgardian warrior has already suffered the loss of Mjolnir, his mighty hammer bestowed upon him by his now-dead father, Odin. Thor's trusty weapon could be wielded by only those who were worthy, but it was effortlessly destroyed by the villainous Hela upon her arrival to Earth — none of which impresses Korg, who at first fails to understand the bond between a man and his hammer.
Thor: I really wish I had my hammer.
Korg: A hammer?
Thor: Quite unique. It was made from this special metal, from the heart of a dying star. And when I spun it really fast, it gave me the ability to fly.
Korg: You rode a hammer?
Thor: No. I didn’t ride the hammer.
Korg: The hammer rode you on your back?
Thor: No, no, no. I’d spin it really fast, it would pull me off—
Korg: Oh my god, the hammer pulled you off?
Thor: The ground! It would pull me off the ground up into the air and I would fly.
Korg: Sounds like you had a pretty special and intimate relationship with this hammer, and that losing it was almost comparable to losing a loved one.
Thor: That’s a nice way of putting it.
Fans can expect Korg (and his buddy Miek) to show up again in the future, as Marvel Studios president and producer Kevin Feige told Fandango the studio "has plans" for the fan-favorite characters. “When and where we’ll have to wait and see," he said, "but we, like the audience now that they’ve seen them, can’t get enough.”
Thor: Ragnarok is now playing.