That New Thor Trailer Proves Marvel Really Knows What You Want
The first trailer for Thor: Ragnarok opens not with a bang, but with a wink: the Norse god of thunder in chains, cracking wise. "I know what you’re thinking," he deadpans in the voiceover. "How did this happen?" Thor might be smart, but in this case he's wrong. What you’re actually thinking is: Is that a joke? In a Thor movie? Followed closely by Wait, is that Zeppelin?! The answer to these questions—because this is Marvel, and Marvel has deconstructed CinemaScore in its test kitchen so many times that it can turn Ant-Man into a half-a-billion-dollar juggernaut—is an emphatic "yes."
Yes, Chris Hemsworth builds on his Ghostbusters comic turn to bring a little levity to Mr. Mjolnir Risin'. Yes, the Ragnarok trailer begins with the churning riff of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” While the classic rock anthem functions as a punchline of sorts, with its Thor-adjacent lyrics about battles royale and "the hammer of the gods," though, it also calls back to something far bigger. You may recall that in 2014, Marvel’s first trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy used Blue Suede’s "Hooked on a Feeling" and a strong dose of goofiness to accomplish the impossible: getting people excited to see a movie about Star-Lord and a bunch of other obscure characters. The tactic succeeded so handily, in fact, that many an ensuing film has tried to copy it—and now, Marvel has realized that it can apply it to all of its MCU heroes, even the ones who have been kicking around the multiplex for years.
And in Thor's case, that might actually be for the best. Even though the first Thor was one of the earliest installments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe—and the one that introduced audiences to Marvel’s non-Earthbound heroes—his standalone movies have always been the least vital. He doesn’t have the political intrigue of Captain America or the swagger of Iron Man. He’s just this preternaturally handsome god, you know? This trailer gives him a whole new look and cohort to go along with franchise stalwarts like Heimdahl (Idris Elba) and fan-favorite Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Not only does Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) make a surprise appearance, but we get our first looks at Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Hela (Cate Blanchett), the MCU's first female primary villain.
Marvel has clearly taken a few other notes from its *Guardians of the Galaxy *strategy this time around, including something that the Thor movies have traditionally lacked: fun. Sure, the movies had laugh lines here and there, but by the time The Dark World came around in 2013, things had gotten a little self-serious. For Ragnarok, though, Thor seems to be heading to quirky-town, particularly when it comes to the trailer’s crescendo, a gladiator face-off with Hulk that prompts the Norse god to hoot, “We know each other! He’s a friend from work!” That move—upending an exceptional situation with day-to-day banality—is one of director Taika Waititi's greatest strengths, and shows exactly what Marvel was thinking when it hired the guy behind vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows. Couple that sensibility with Guardians moves like brilliant tertiary casting (Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster is the Ragnarok version of Glenn Close and John C. Reilly being in Nova Corps) and a little retro pop culture (Star-Lord's ’80s mixtape, meet Ragnarok's new retro-game-influenced neon logo), and all of a sudden the prospect of a third Thor movie isn't just tolerable, it's straight-up exciting.
Marvel has always succeeded in part because of story-first institutional oversight, similar to that of other Disney holdings like Lucasfilm and Pixar. Like them, Marvel is a well-oiled machine. And now, like any good machine, it has finally become self-aware. It knows what you want, and it's no longer holding back on delivering it. Even if it takes a little Ragnarok and roll.