During my visit to the offices of Marvel Studios yesterday, I learned that director Taika Waititi has cast himself as Korg in Thor: Ragnarok. The filmmaker hinted at the character’s appearance in the film during production, but his role had been kept under wraps…and it looks great.
Korg, an alien known as a Kronan, played a role in the Planet Hulk comic book storyline from which this film borrows key plot elements. The comic version of the character was exiled on the Red King's planet of Sakaaar (after being defeated by Thor elsewhere, coincidentally enough) and ends up forced into gladiatorial combat, just like Hulk. An earlier version of Korg was seen in Thor: The Dark World, although it seems like that character is being written off as another Kronan warrior.
Korg is a giant rock warrior who is a warm-up gladiator in the Grandmaster’s Contest of Champions. Korg is pretty intimidating, standing about eight feet tall, made of grey-looking rocks, and sporting a brown gladiator armor costume with red spray war paint markings (a cross with a circle). Taika jokes that he’s wearing a 2017 male bikini. The concept art we saw also showed the character with a huge staff. In an animation test, Korg used it as a bat, clobbering his enemies into the distance.
In the film, Korg befriends Thor and welcomes the God of Thunder to the planet Sakaar, explaining how society on the planet operates. We were shown a scene featuring Thor’s first meeting with Korg. While the Kronan looks physically intimidating, he is super helpful and overly friendly. Waititi’s comic timing is brilliant, and if you’ve seen his roles in his previous films, then you have an idea of what to expect. Waititi explained that Korg is modeled after Polynesian nightclub bouncers at who are the biggest people in town, but have the lightest and most delicate voices: “They are very endearing, but you don’t want to fuck with them.”
Waititi had always planned on playing a role somewhere in the movie, as he does with most of his projects, but the role of Korg was not something he initially anticipated playing in the movie. Taika performed the role on-set in a performance capture suit. Before showing us some footage of him in the suit, the director was quick to point out that Mark Ruffalo (who returns as Bruce Banner/the Hulk in the movie) calls the mo-cap costume, “the emasculation suit.” On set, Taika wore a 2D rendering of Korg’s head positioned above his own so his actors would look at the proper eye line.
Alongside Korg is his best friend Miek, another character from the Planet Hulk comic books. The image above is from the comics – the MCU version of Miek is very different. Miek is an insect creature with a crab mouth and a black and red exoskeleton with knives for hands and bionic legs. The character does not talk in the film, but was played on-set by a performance capture actor. It seems like he might be the kind of sidekick character that will be doing some entertaining bits in the background as the characters with dialogue move the plot forward.
Thor: Ragnarok opens on November 3, 2017.
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