Avengers and Thor: Ragnarok star Chris Hemsworth had his first Saturday Night Live hosting gig back in 2015; his episode could have included a racially charged and potentially controversial sketch, had it not been for Hemsworth's uneasiness regarding the premise.
SNL, for its entire 43-year existence, has been known for pushing the envelope in sketch comedy, but some ideas simply never make it to air, possibly for ethical and sensitivity reasons, or even corporate concerns.
Speaking on Late Night with Seth Meyers, writer and Weekend Update co-anchor (and now co-head writer) Michael Che, alongside his WU partner Colin Jost, spoke to Meyers about some of their rejected sketch ideas. One such idea was for a Chris Hemsworth-hosted episode that would have had the actor portray his MCU role of Thor in the sketch. After describing the premise, it might be a bit obvious as to why Hemsworth wasn't too excited about the idea.
My favorite sketches are like really racially charged. Like Chris Hemsworth hosted and I wanted to do a sketch where the Avengers saved the day but in the process Thor accidentally kills an unarmed black teenager. He said it wouldn't help with tickets. I thought it would have helped with tickets!
While Che's sketch never made it past the pitching process, another Avengers-related sketch did make it to Hemsworth's first SNL episode. "Avengers News Report" was a far tamer sketch, with Hemsworth as Thor and SNL cast members as his fellow Avengers celebrating rambunctiously after defeating Ultron - the episode aired in March of 2015, in the lead up to the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Che's rejected idea certainly gained some laughter amongst the Late Night audience - executed correctly, such a sketch could work as being provocative and timely. On the other hand, such a premise could be lambasted as tone deaf and insensitive. In an age of racial unrest and activist movements like Black Lives Matter, several Americans likely wouldn't chuckle at the image of a black teenager being killed by someone thought to be a protective figure, when such an event is happening to real life people - if Americans haven't been affected personally by similar killings, they have at least seen similar imagery on the news. A different comedy show, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia took on this scenario in its season 12 premiere, and spun it for some shock laughs, to some mixed reactions.
As Jost and Che speculated on Late Night, Hemsworth probably did not find the idea to be "on brand." With a big release in Age of Ultron approaching after the Hemsworth episode, the actor, Marvel Studios and Disney would likely not want their Avengers property attached to what could have potentially been a negative news story. Although with Black Panther providing African-American filmmakers and artists a voice through a larger blockbuster, perhaps Che has some other ideas cooking in his comedy head.
Saturday Night Live airs Saturdays at 11:30pm ET on NBC.
Source: Late Night with Seth Meyers
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