Well, I certainly underestimated things.
Like the millions of other people around the world, I watched the new Thor: Ragnarok trailer yesterday. However, I watched it just the one time in the morning and didn’t give it a second thought. As the day progressed, my social media feed was inundated with Ragnarok buzz, and by the end of the day just about every single pop culture site had published their mandatory deep dive into every second of the trailer. THR was left struggling to glean some lesson from the trailer’s record-breaking success, deducing that earning 136 million views in 24 hours (the best debut for any Disney movie trailer) probably means people….um….umm…..
Have missed Thor and Hulk since their two-year, post-Age of Ultron absence, minus Thor’s Doctor Strange cameo?
Have really missed Loki since 2013’s The Dark World?
Totally dig that someone finally thought to put Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” and its “hammer of the gods” lyrics over a Thor trailer?
Love the jokes (e.g., “he’s a friend from work”)?
Can’t get over how the comical tone of Hulk vs. Thor seems to be throwing shade at Batman v Superman?
Love the candy-colored universe new-to-the-franchise director Taika Waiti has come up with?
Love pointing out the resemblance between Cate Blanchett’s goth villainess Hela and Elizabeth Banks’ Rita Repulsa from Power Rangers?
Can’t get enough of Tessa Thompson (as new love interest Valkyrie) or Jeff Goldblum (as semi-villain The Grandmaster)?
Or were just so surprised by how different this looks from the prior two Thor movies (no hammer? no Asgard? no long hair?) they had to re-watch several times to take it all in?
It’s all of those things, really. But way back before all of that fanfare and analysis came in what I saw in the trailer was a classic case of a sequel moving forward by doing away with all that came before. In one fell swoop, we see Hela destroy Thor’s hammer, set fire to his mystical homeland and banish him off into a buddy movie with Hulk. It’s the type of let’s-reboot-without-actually-starting-over-and-recasting course correction the Thor movies probably need, at least based on box office and tepid fan response. But it’s taking me a minute to adjust because, well, I am one of those weird people who actually likes the first two Thor movies.
At one point, I considered the Thor movies to be my favorite individual franchise in the Avengers kingdom (Captain America has since earned that honor). I recognize, however, that the people at Marvel Studios clearly feel as if they still haven’t made the perfect Thor movie yet. So, they keep shaking things up.
The first film was Shakespeare in far-too-shiny space mixed with fish-out-of-water comedy on Earth. Nice, but not perfect. Goodbye, Kenneth Brannagh; Hello, Alan Taylor.
The second film switched over to a Game of Thrones visual aesthetic and plunged more headlong into fantasy. Eh, somehow even worse this time. Everyone still pales in comparison to Loki, don’t they? Don’t let the door hit on you the ass, Taylor.
Now, Waiti is blowing it all up and throwing more colors at us than Guardians of the Galaxy. Thor is newly single (having broken up with Natalie Portman’s character in-between movies). The Warriors 3 and Sif are nowhere to be found. Dark World’s cliffhanging mystery with Loki and Odin isn’t all that important anymore. Instead, it’s a matter of how quickly can you get Thor out of Asgard and over to co-starring in a cloak-and-dagger Planet Hulk movie. Such a locale change is to be expected at this point in any franchise. Just look at a powerless Tony Stark wandering around small town Tennessee in Iron Man 3. The same goes for taking away Thor’s hammer. Again, look at Tony briefly losing his suit in Iron Man 3.
And it looks great. It’s just, well, you remember when the people who actually liked Amazing Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man 2 felt a little rejected when Sony kicked Andrew Garfield to the curb and loaned the franchise out to Marvel for a complete re-do? The resulting new movies with Tom Holland will probably be better than what came before, but it’s only natural to want to pause for a moment to remember that, hey, I kind of liked what you were already doing.
I’ll get over it. The Thor movies have only ever flirted with greatness, never quite achieved it, and no one wanted a repeat of the bland villain of The Dark World or Natalie Portman being shoved into something she didn’t actually want to be in. Kat Dennings’ schtick as Darcy was bordering on annoying. Chris Hemsworth’s comedy chops have been sorely underutilized. So, let’s set fire to what came before, have a fun side adventure on a Gladiator planet with Hulk followed by a cosmic road trip before ending with Thor perhaps getting around to saving Asgard from Hela’s apocalypse.
Thor: Ragnarok is due out November 3, 2017.