My latest post is up at Adweek, a look at how Marvel Studios embraced a sense of fun on many fronts to revitalize Thor and help sell Ragnarok as a goofy buddy comedy, not a heavy and confusing story of dark elves and weird stones.
Not knowing what to do with a character hasn’t stopped Marvel from making multiple solo films featuring Thor. As played by Chris Hemsworth, the God of Thunder’s two solo outings to date have been a decidedly mixed bag. 2011’s Thor was a decent bit of drama that mixed comic book pulp with Shakespearean drama, the latter resulting from the influence of director Kenneth Branagh. At the other end of the spectrum is 2013’s Thor: The Dark World, which was dreary and slightly depressing, with a generic “ancient evil threatens the world” story that did no one any favors.
The marketing for the third movie, Thor: Ragnarok, which hits theaters today, promised something drastically different. With director Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) at the helm, Marvel has taken a very different tack in the pitch it’s making to the audience. In particular, there are a few ways in which the studio’s tactics are looking to tap into what’s hot, what’s unique and what’s worked about the character’s other movies.