‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ Director Taika Waititi Explains the Difference Between Him and James Gunn

Taika Waititi and James Gunn are star directors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Waititi helped save the Thor movie franchise with Thor: Ragnarok and the quickly greenlit Thor: Love and Thunder. Gunn wrote and directed the two Guardians of the Galaxy movies in the MCU, and he also looped in Waititi for a small role in The Suicide Squad. That collaboration highlighted the wildly different directing styles of Waititi and Gunn.

Taika Waititi (left) and James Gunn attend the premiere of 'The Suicide Squad' in 2021. Waititi humorously explained how he and Gunn differ as directors by saying Gunn "just knows what he's doing."
(l-r) Taika Waititi; James Gunn | Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images; Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage

The web connecting Taika Waititi, James Gunn, the MCU, and DCEU

Several threads connect Waititi, Gunn, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and the DC Extended Universe. 

  • Gunn debuted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe by writing and directing the first Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014. Then he helmed Guardians: Vol. 2 in 2017.
  • Waititi joined the MCU by directing 2017’s Ragnarok. The film put the franchise back on the map following The Dark World, which fans considered the worst Marvel movie for years. 
  • Waititi signed on for a small role in the Gunn-directed The Suicide Squad in 2021. The New Zealand native plays Ratcatcher.
  • Waititi closed the loop when he directed Guardians actors Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel in Thor: Love and Thunder in 2022.

They share several interwoven threads, but The Suicide Squad was the only time Waititi and Gunn worked directly together, and it showcased the difference in their directing styles.

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Waititi hilariously and honestly explains how his directing style differs from Gunn: “He just knows what he’s doing”

Natalie Portman, who starred in the first two Thor movies before returning for Love and Thunder, shed some light on Waititi’s directing style. She explained his approach was different from any movie she’s worked on because he shoots a lot of footage and leaves a lot of high-quality material out of the final edit.

That’s the diplomatic answer. Waititi explained how his directing approach radically differs from Gunn’s during a Fandango All Access conversation (via YouTube). When asked if the Guardians actors knew what they were getting into with Waititi behind the lens, he honestly broke down his approach compared to Gunn’s.

“James directed me briefly in ‘The Suicide Squad.’ He just knows what he’s doing, that’s the difference. He’s got a plan, and he knows every frame that he’s going to shoot. He storyboards everything, and he just knows what he wants. Where I’m just like, ‘I don’t know what I want. I’ll see it somewhere in there at some point.’”

Taika Waititi describes how his directing style differs from James Gunn

There you have it. Gunn takes a methodical approach to directing, while Waititi does things much more loosely. It surely makes for some great outtakes (which no one will ever see because he’ll never make a director’s cut), but it also means entire roles of star actors get left out.

Who was cut from ‘Thor: Love and Thunder,’ how much has it made, and will there be a ‘Thor 5’?

Portman returned, and Waititi added Gunn’s Guardians characters to Love and Thunder. Still, several cameos from notable actors missed the cut thanks to Waititi’s “I’ll know it when I see it” directing approach.

Peter Dinklage was rumored to return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Eitri, but if he shot any scenes, they’re not in the movie. A lawsuit against Lena Headey confirmed her Love and Thunder role, but Dinklage’s fellow Game of Thrones alum doesn’t appear. The movie’s IMDb page lists Jeff Goldblum’s hairstylist and makeup artist among the crew, but not the actor. He reprised his Ragnarok role, but he didn’t make the cut.

Waititi cut several stars out of Love and Thunder, but it hasn’t affected its box office total. The movie opened with $144.1 million its first weekend and surged past $315.5 million in less than a week, per Box Office Mojo.


Thor: Love and Thunder is the latest in a long line of Marvel hit movies, but will there be a Thor 5? One of the movie’s two post-credits scenes features a surprising cameo that sets up a fifth film, but there’s nothing official yet. If Thor 5 happens, and if Waititi gets the call to direct, the stars should expect more haphazard filmmaking from the creative Waititi.

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