The Thor wing of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has come a long way since the first movie in 2011. Following the less-than-beloved sequel Thor: The Dark World, a bit of improvisation from Chris Hemsworth did more than just improve the flick: It may have saved the film version of the character. Thor successfully transitioned into being a gleefully zany series, with the help of the star’s comedy and writer-director Taika Waititi.
Chris Hemsworth’s quick thinking helped keep the ‘Thor’ series alive
Marvel initially struggled to find the right formula for Thor movies during the early phases of the MCU. Both Thor and Thor: The Dark World were lacking in the storytelling department. The character arcs were generic and the action scenes largely uninspired. There was such a lack of an artistic vision that some wondered if the MCU would be better off moving on without Thor at all.
Kevin Feige admitted (via MsMojo) that the decision to make a third Thor movie was inspired by the comedic bits of Dark World. Many of these moments were not in the script, coming straight from Hemsworth himself. One example is when the Norse warrior walks into Jane Foster’s (Natalie Portman) apartment and casually hangs Mjolnir on her coat rack as soon as he walks in. There were still a ton of issues to work out with the character after The Dark World, but these hints of comedic chops from Hemsworth hinted at a possible way forward in future movies.
‘Ragnarok’ leveraged the comedic chops of the cast to allow some improvisation
In their desperation to make Thor work on the big screen, Marvel did what they’ve rarely done with their biggest properties: they gave a director total freedom to reimagine the character with minimal intervention from the studio.
Fresh off the cult comedy hits What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople (which he also wrote), Taika Waititi was brought in to helm Thor: Ragnarok. The filmmaker came with a different sensibility than other MCU directors. Marvel movies evolved past the never-ending darkness of the DC stuff, but the overall tone became repetitive in a different way, depending on sarcastic quips during conversations far too often.
With Thor: Ragnarok, Waititi did something completely different. The movie was incredibly light-hearted and almost defiantly silly in a way that makes you question why more comic book adaptations can’t have this much fun.
The looser tone was reflected in how Ragnarok was made. Waititi has said that over 80 percent of the dialog was improvised during shooting. The decision reinvigorated the franchise and the movie became a massive hit worldwide.
The tone of ‘Love and Thunder’ might be different from ‘Ragnarok’
Thor: Love and Thunder is set to iterate on the vibe shift that came with Ragnarok. Waititi reprised his role as writer and director, and he is clearly excited about the final product, calling it “the craziest film I’ve ever done” in an interview with Empire.
“If you wrote down all the elements of this film, it shouldn’t make sense,” he says. “It’s almost like it shouldn’t be made. If you walked into a room and said, ‘I want this and this and this.’ Who’s in it? These people. What are you going to call it? Love And Thunder. I mean, you’d never work again. Maybe I won’t after this.”
It’s clear to see from the trailer that this movie is attempting to be as wacky as possible. Jane Foster is back, only now she has the power to wield Mjolnir herself as Mighty Thor. The Guardians of the Galaxy are involved in the plot. Christian Bale moves from Batman to Marvel villain Gorr the God Butcher. We’ll have to wait until July 8 to see how the movie turns out. But no one can say Love and Thunder lacks for creative ideas.
Waititi’s distinct style is apparent in everyone project he’s involved in, but he insists that this film is a more serious and emotional affair than Ragnarok. The marketing doesn’t signal that, but looks can be deceiving. It took two movies to figure out that Thor is actually funny, after all.