Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Marvel released a trailer about a wise-cracking guy in space, gigantic battles with monstrous creatures, a seemingly unstoppable villain, all woven together with a unique balance of action and humor and set to a nostalgic soundtrack from the 70s. Now I know what you’re thinking – “Yes, I’m very excited for Guardians of the Galaxy to come out in a month, I wish May was already here!” Except instead of Peter Quill and Baby Groot and everyone else doing fun cool space stuff, we get Thor, a fundamentally different character, doing fun cool space stuff. Yes, this is a Thor trailer.
If Marvel has shown anything throughout the creation of their cinematic universe, it’s that they’re willing to adapt and change things that don’t work, and try to find what strikes the right chord with the largest possible audience. But for all of their workings and improvements, a character it felt like they just couldn’t get quite right was Thor. Sure Loki, as a villain, was one of the more interesting characters in their universe, but even he couldn’t make the standalone Thor movies anything more than mediocre. But now the comic giant is taking a different approach, and it appears to be the ever so subtle art of “let’s just make it exactly like Guardians of the Galaxy”.
Now before we get into the actual trailer itself I think we should discuss the strategy here because while I think it’s an interesting move by Marvel, I also have my doubts as to it managing to work for very long. While Guardians of the Galaxy is an incredibly fun, comedy-filled romp through space, Thor is, as I said earlier, a fundamentally different character. Chris Hemsworth is fun and certainly has the comedic chops for a fun role, sure, but Thor as a character and personality has never been one of nonstop jokes and wisecracks. And while I feel like this tonal shift for the Thor movies feels good, it only does so because Marvel has taken something that is universally disliked (or at best considered mediocre) and made it more like something that is universally loved. And I can’t help but feel that’s a patchwork solution – sure, we might love Thor: Ragnarok for being a fun Guardians of the Galaxy-eqsue space romp, but it’s going to get old pretty quickly if two Marvel properties are pumping us full of joke-riddled space adventures and not much else. I almost wonder if it’d be better to try to make Thor more serious and try to rewrite the formula on a serious Marvel movie rather than just scrapping it and doing something else altogether.
But, all that speculation aside, it’s hard to deny that the trailer looks really damn fun and cool. The Led Zeppelin soundtrack! The Hulk! Jeff Goldblum! Thor’s haircut! Loki flipping knives or something! The 80s-themed title card! What a good time! The trailer moves at a brisk pace and other than showing an incredibly powerful villain and a couple of key action set pieces, we don’t learn too much about the movie’s plot, which is nice considering the snafu everyone seemed to have with the most recent Spider-Man trailer. But what’s more, this Thor movie actually looks interesting, and while that might be because it’s basically exactly like Guardians of the Galaxy, it could also be because it’s not trying so hard to be an epic tale like the first two Thors were. Don’t get me wrong, this trailer still has all the epic staples that Marvel likes – it showcases marquee cast members (Goldblum) and moments (the Hulk is back, baby!) but it does away with the sweeping shots of Asgard, and Thor trying to stand while thinking pensively and looking noble. It’s a welcome change (for now) to a member of the franchise that desperately needed a facelift, though I can’t help but go back to my point that it’s unclear how long this change will be a welcome one.
What’s more, the movie could still be mediocre. This is just a good trailer, and what’s more, it’s a good trailer for a movie that comes from a series of others that were nothing more than average. So while Marvel has shown that the Thor story and arc might be drastically different, they haven’t necessarily shown that the story and arc are better and we likely won’t know until the film’s release. However, it’s a welcome change to actually be excited about a Thor movie for once, instead of thumbing through the calendar and noting when Spider-Man comes out while also reminding yourself that Ant-Man and the Wasp is a thing that’s happening in a year.
In short, there’s still a lot of ways in which Marvel could screw this up, or at the very least, show they haven’t actually fixed or changed much to do with Thor and the mythos surrounding him. But having a fun new trailer to watch and speculate over without dreading having to force yourself to see a mediocre movie that DC fan boys can use as proof that Marvel movies aren’t actually that good is a welcome change of pace.