Teaching Our Children to Appreciate and Respect Differences: Thor Ragnarok Press Conference

I was invited to an all-expense paid trip by Disney in exchange for my coverage. No other compensation was provided. All views shared are completely my own.


Thor Movie Poster


On October 11th, I attended the Thor: Ragnarok press conference in Los Angeles.  It was my first premiere press conference and I was really excited.  The room was full of media and the stage was set. The cast was one by one, Kevin Feige (Marvel Studios President), Karl Urban (Skurge), Rachel House (Topaz), Jeff Goldblum (Grandmaster), Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie), Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk), Cate Blanchette (Hela), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), and Taika Waititi (Director & Korg).  While the entire interview was informative and entertaining, I decided to concentrate on the following three key learnings:


Photo Credit: Dwan @MommaDJane


It’s no surprise that the first question asked was directed to Chris Hemsworth, I would have started with him myself.  The moderator jumped right in and asked, “what makes this Thor different from the others?”  Chris responded saying,

“Taika Waititi.  I think we all had a, a vision, and an idea, and a want to do something vastly different than what we’d done before – to take it to a different place.  And that meant doing away with what we knew, and just reinventing it. It all came from his crazy, wonderful brain, and his inspiration, and him pushing us every day on set, and constantly encouraging us to improvise, and explore, and take risks.  And it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had on a set, and a film that I feel the proudest of, just because of this – this whole team, and the collaboration, and fun we had.”

 The beauty of the question and the answer was the word “different.”  Taika took a “different” approach that took the movie in a different direction.  And the cast loved it!  As moms we are challenged with teaching our children to appreciate and respect differences.  What makes us different, is what makes us beautiful. And while our children did not come with a manual, they did come with an open mind.  Helping them accept their “different” as kids makes them more productive adults.


Photo Credit: Marvel Studios


I am completely smitten by Taika’s passion.  When asked, “you kind of brought an independent sensibility to this monstrous film, and gave it fun, and a little heart, too.  What was the process like for you?” I thought how befitting, it’s the perfect statement -question combination for Taika.  His answer did not surprise me at all, he said,

“Well, when they first asked me to come and talk to them about making this film, obviously I thought that Marvel had lost their minds, so they’re just hiring anyone now.”  “But I came in, and I knew my strengths, and I had to ignore the scale of this monster, this beast.  It’s a huge, huge film.  And what can be distracting on set is if you look over your shoulder, and you see 300 people standing there.  And you know, so you – I have to – I just had to keep reminding myself what’s more important is what’s inside the rectangle, and usually, it’s two or three people trying to remember their lines.  So, it doesn’t matter the scale of the film – that’s always the same, you know.  I just focused down on what I was used to, which was what’s in front of the camera.”

Don’t you love it, Taika focused on what was in front of the camera…people.  Our world is increasingly diverse.  Our children have friends that are much different than them. Like Taika, we can easily be distracted by our differences, that’s why we must help our children be more heart-centered and focus on people.  We can seek out cultural events or eat ethnic food to learn more about our differences.  But when we try to get to know people that look, live, eat, or speak differently than we do…that takes heart and teaches our children how to live inclusively.


Photo Credit: Marvel Studios


The critics are talking about how “different” Thor: Ragnarok is in comparison to the first two films.   It’s mostly contributed to Taika.  Even Kevin Feige said, “Thor was our idea, but perfected and improved by Taika.”  It’s clear that the difference is also due to the nontraditional approach to the movie.  I don’t want to spoil it, but there are several scenes that will truly shock you, especially if you are a Thor fan.  The next question was directed to Tessa Thompson.  She asked, “First, did you have any pressure playing a character that was mechanical white in the comics, and bringing that character to life?  How did you feel about that?”  Tessa responded,

“No, I didn’t feel any pressure with that specifically.  The things that I thought about around particulars of Valkyrie had more to do with, mass and size.  For example, I thought, I’m short,’ or I’m not buff enough.’  Or how she’s arguably as strong as Thor.  How do I stand next to a person like Chris Hemsworth and feel like that’s true, you know.  So, I didn’t think so much – I mean, satisfying Norse mythology, it’s mystifying, and fantastical, and glorious, and also very confusing and doesn’t make a lot of sense.” 

“I remember someone online saying like, ‘You know, Tessa Thompson playing Valkyrie is white genocide.’  Which is just as mystifying as Norse mythology.  I just figured, this thing that I’m tasked to do with any character that has its own iconography is to capture the spirit of the character, and I think the spirit of all of us, at the risk of sounding, cheesy, has very little to do with what color we are.  So, I just didn’t really invest in that.”

I remember applauding so loud in response to Tessa’s answer.  It was perfect! She was confident, passionate, and very impressive.  If we are going to teach our children not to make decisions based on stereotypes, then we must lead by example.  Tessa playing the role of a traditional white, blonde superhero was not only different, but heroic.  This is a “teachable moment” for us moms.  Some of our children may ask about Valkyrie not being white.  We will have an opportunity to help them learn about differences and not pretend that they don’t exist.


Photo Credit: Britni Newton Vigil

As moms, we are our children first teacher.  We teach them how to count, say thank you, play patty cake, to pray, to be respectful…the list goes on.  We have to do the same when it comes to appreciating and respecting differences.  Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common.  We must celebrate it daily.  It’s nice to have movies that reinforce those beliefs.

Are you teaching your children how to appreciate and respect others’ differences?  By doing so we are ultimately teaching our children to be responsible and successful.  Please share your thoughts about the importance of diversity.



P.S.  On November 3rd Thor: Ragnarok will be in theatres everywhere.  I hope you and your family decides to go see it.  In the meantime, follow Marvel on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates.

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  1. That panel must have been so amazing. One of the greatest things about Marvel – most especially the later movies – is that they actually teach lessons if you look for them. I’m so eager to see Thor: Ragnarok.

  2. I always try to teach my child to accept others for the way they are. He has friends of every single race out there and he does not see any color whatsoever, just that they are friends. That panel how you have been an amazing one to interview. This movie looks like it’s going to be a great movie.

  3. Something that I think is awesome is that when I was growing up in the 70’s, we all knew even as kids that there was a mold to fit in to make you popular and if you did not fit that mold you were “less than”. Four decades later when mothers are telling their kids that they need to be proud of the things that makes them special, it is truth and we are breaking molds all the time. Like you said “What makes us different, is what makes us beautiful.”

  4. Wow these are some pretty important lessons that aren’t so easy to teach to our children. I am looking forward to seeing the movie!

  5. I am so excited to go see Thor: Ragnarok. I love what you said. What makes us different is what makes us beautiful.

  6. It’s really cool that so much thought went into making the film have heart. It sounds like the new director had a clear vision! I’m looking forward to seeing the movie!

  7. This is fantastic! I’m excited to see the new movie, but even more so with this viewpoint. I have to say one of the best things about my kids school is the amount of diversity. There are easily 90% of kids names who I can’t pronounce until I ask them to pronounce it for me. In fact just this week we have our “International Festival” where families can sign up for a table to teach us more about their home country! It’s one of my favorite nights and the kids get to learn more about their friends.

  8. This is so great to hear! I love when large movie franchises make an effort to teach better values and focus on messages. I know they want to make money and just get a lot of people to come see the film, but if you can do both it’s a win win!

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