I have reviewed for a few years now, so I am used to the glamour of attending critics’ screenings. There, we sit with a glass of wine, watch a (hopefully) good flick, and feel very lucky to be given the opportunity for this to be our occupation. This site has done well enough to warrant a call from the powers that be, inviting us to the Thor: Ragnarok red carpet at the Gold Coast. I am a professional, so I will not tell you that I jumped up and down in absolute delight at the prospect. I may have, but I won’t tell you. The red carpet is a whole new experience to usual critics’ fare. It was sweaty, tiring, and exhilarating. Attending this premiere taught me a lot about film, the industry, and the wonders of stardom.
First of all, press pits are sweaty. We have to stand for hours in the heat, just waiting for the event to be set up. I found myself taking pictures of the patterns in the carpet to keep me occupied. I also accidentally ended up on the news, behind a Channel 7 representative, as I posed for photos. I am in hopes it made me look far more important than I actually am. When waiting in close confines with the entirety of Queensland’s online media, you overhear a few conversations. Turns out—nobody felt like they were important. One girl was really nervous to see Chris Hemsworth, another man ran a small YouTube channel and was shocked to have been given an invite, and a man with a road-mic taped to a camcorder lamented his lack of ‘admirable’ equipment. These people were industrious, passionate, and were just there because they loved cinema. This shared passion was infectious, spreading through confines of the velvet rope.
Meanwhile, a young Asgardian, dressed in full costume and wielding Mjolnir, raised his hammer for us as we snapped photographs. The fans crowded us, all buzzing with anticipation to see the God of Thunder. As his time to grace us grew nearer, the clouds grew darker and thicker. The air was filled with a thick humidity, adding to the suspense. When the lead star finally arrived, the fans’ screams acted as his thunder. While I could have pushed for an interview with Chris Hemsworth, he spent the majority of his time taking photos with his fans. He held the young Asgardian’s Mjolnir and posed for a selfie. The faces of the children blessed with this stardom was experience enough.
Superhero films are the tales of men becoming gods. It is no secret that superhero films litter the contemporary box office—to the delight of some and scorn of others. But the truth of the matter is, after seeing the faces of the fans waiting in dull weather for a glimpse of Thor himself—these films connect with people. I was lucky enough to interview Brad Winderbaum, executive producer of Thor: Ragnarok and a slew of other Marvel films such as Ant-Man, Iron Man 3, and The Avengers, about this phenomenon. Speaking on Marvel’s success, and director Taika Waititi, Winderbaum boasted:
You know, I think nostalgia is a big part of our films in the sense that the characters have been around for seventy years or so… you tap into different parts of the characters based on where they fall in time… the reasons why we choose the directors we do is because we want someone to draw out the humanity in these larger than life characters. Taika is one of these guys. When you watch one of his movies, they are so funny and so filled with humour and excitement, but these feel like real humans with real emotions and real problems.
There was no doubt that the fans surrounding the red carpet had, in some way, connected with the characters that they saw on screen. Their enthusiasm was palpable, showcasing the strength of Marvel’s product. For me, director Taika Waititi was the draw-card of this event. I have seen every one of his films, and adored each of them. Standing so close to one of my creative heroes was an experience I could not put in to words. I wasn’t able to grab him for an interview; however, that might be a good thing. I may have just crumbled, unable to stop myself from just telling him how GOOD he is at what he does. And, to be honest, I didn’t need to. Every interview I overheard sang his praises. It was almost as if Thor: Ragnarok is a Taika Waititi film first and a Marvel venture second.
Unfortunately, we will not be able to give thoughts on this film until closer to its release. The premiere screening was heavily guarded, and we at FilmBunker were just playing paparazzi for this event. Only time will tell if the film itself lives up to its marketing. When sitting in a dark cinema at a critics’ event, sipping on your complimentary beverage, it is easy to feel disconnected from a film’s reach. We can gauge how good or bad it is based on a film’s merit alone, and the screen is completely isolated from the outside world. There was an exuberant amount of heart that lay in the creation, and reception, of this film. Being out in the open, snapping our photos and hearing the fans’ screams of joy, has succeeded in infecting me with the film’s hype, but also cemented my passion in this industry—a push that was necessary after the horrific tales that have haunted film media as of late.