Hey, do you know what looks really good? Thor: Ragnarok.
There’s a lot to digest here. First and foremost is now we have more concrete answers for where the Hulk has been and, to a lesser extent (given the post-credits scene for Doctor Strange), Thor’s additional and notable absence from Civil War. Thor has been imprisoned, lost his legendary and signature hammer Mjolnir , and Asgard is under assault from Cate Blanchett—err, I mean Hela.
It definitely gives up the angle of some Planet Hulk business, a popular yet moderately received storyline that puts the Hulk in a series of gladiatorial battles on an alien planet after he’d been sent away for being, well, the Hulk. It seems unlikely this will be the basis for the whole movie since 1) this is a Thor movie and 2) Planet Hulk involves the Hulk taking over the entire planet and returning to Earth for revenge, but it’s a slick way to involve some classic Marvel canon and rediscover a missing hero.
But the most important thing to discuss the tone of the trailer, which is, shall we say, distinct. And that is thanks to new-to-the-series director Taika Waititi. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: MCU films thrive on finding the right director. Jon Favreau for the first Iron Man, James Gunn for Guardians of the Galaxy, and the story of the almost-success Edgar Wright for Ant-Man. When that pitch becomes perfect, it’s bliss. Everything else just sort of…exists.
Based on this trailer, it looks like Waititi has taken the characters and the settings and made them completely his own, taking full advantage of his severely underestimated renown as an excuse to go all out and the more or less detached status the Thor films have always had in the MCU. Waititi is perhaps best known for What We Do in the Shadows, an extraordinary mockumentary that is full-on beautiful nonsense. It chronicles the daily lives of a group of highly dysfunctional vampires trying to make it in the modern world and my gosh is it fantastic.
Obviously a lot of credit also goes to his collaborator Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords fame (they also worked together on that show as well as Eagle vs Shark), but his trademark quirks are unmistakable. You can’t miss the way he manages to phrase something in a way juuuuuuust odd enough with perfect comedic timing that even the most mundane interactions become hilarious. In the Ragnarok trailer, for example, the fact that Thor thinks of repeatedly saving the world as his official occupation? Incredible.
Smashing that together with the bombastic and flagrant introduction of Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster and a few touches of Benedict Cumberbatch’s reality-warping Doctor Strange is a brilliant move. It gives a laterality and freedom the entire MCU hasn’t quite seen up until Guardians, but in a post-Pratt world (and, honestly, a post-Deadpool and post-Suicide Squad world where the contrasting successes of each are drastic, to say the least), it kind of makes sense. Segmenting it up further and more deliberately to continue the MCU as a (mostly) cohesive whole is only logical. Plus, you get to do weird stuff like this.
Oh, and this.
And just for kicks, here’s some more What We Do in the Shadows.