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Film

The two modern sci-fi classics mentioned in 'Thor: Love and Thunder'

It hasn’t taken all that long for the filmmaker Taika Waititi to reach the very heights of Hollywood stardom, rising to popularity ever since the release of his first comedy feature film, What We Do In The Shadows. Since then, the New Zealand director has flitted from independent cinema, with such films as Hunt for the Wilderpeople, to big-budget entertainment, bringing his wacky humour to the Marvel movie Thor: Ragnarok.

Well established in the circuit of satirical comedy, having worked with Jemaine Clement, James Bobin and recently-minted Oscar-winner Bret McKenzie on multiple projects, Waititi’s films are doused in quirky humour whilst aligning with the visual identity of Wes Anderson. The winning tonal formula has done the filmmaker well too, winning the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2020 for Jojo Rabbit.

For most moviegoers, however, Waititi will be most well-known for bringing a cinematic elegance and distinct wacky humour to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, helming the 2017 movie Thor: Ragnarok that would inform the eccentricity of the franchise’s future. 

Five years after the release of the superhero flick, Waititi is back with a sequel, Thor: Love and Thunder, with the new film reuniting Thor (Chris Hemsworth) with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) the titular hero’s ex-girlfriend. Upon her arrival, she sparks a strange love triangle between the protagonist, his old hammer, Mjölnir and his new weapon of choice, the axe Stormbreaker, a comedic storyline that only Waititi could conjure. 

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Making her first return to the franchise since 2013, Portman’s character makes a joyous arrival, donning the iconic helmet and red cape of the title character as she becomes The Mighty Thor. She also engages in several scenes of quippy dialogue with several characters in familiar Waititi fashion, at one point explaining the laws of astrophysics to a young man, referencing two modern classic sci-fi movies.

Breaking down exactly how wormholes work, she draws attention to the Paul W. S. Anderson cult sci-fi flick Event Horizon, as well as the Christopher Nolan epic Interstellar to make her point. 

At the start of Anderson’s 1997 movie, Dr. Weir (Sam Neill) explains the complicated theory of wormholes by folding a piece of paper in half and punching a pen through it. This very same demonstration is recreated in Nolan’s film by Dr. Romilly (David Gyasi) and is once again copied by Portman’s Jane Foster in Taika Waititi’s latest MCU movie. 

As a lover of great science fiction, no doubt it was Waititi’s intention to join this niche genre trend, becoming the latest director to reference the wormhole demonstration. Which film and which director will be next?