Thor was arguably the most important film, story-wise, for setting up The Avengers in Phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It also needed to overcome the challenge being the first film in the franchise set partly off-world, bringing to life the Marvel Comics take on Norse Mythology in a way that fits in with the tech and science-based worlds of Iron Man and Captain America. It needed to strike the right balance of Shakespearean family politics with the light humor of a fish out of water story while establishing not only a new hero, but one of the most important antagonists in the MCU: Loki (Tom Hiddleston).
It did a commendable job at that since of a dozen Marvel Studios films to date, Loki remains their most effective "villain.". Thor even made more money at the box office than Captain America: The First Avengers but its post-Avengers followup in Thor: The Dark World, while perhaps even more humorous than its predecessor, might be Marvel's weakest film in terms of its plot and characters. Thor: Ragnarok needs to be something different and Thor himself, Aussie actor Chris Hemsworth, agrees.
Speaking with CB while promoting his role in Ron Howard's In the Heart of the Sea, Hemsworth wants to see Thor 3 get a "dose" of James Gunn did with Guardians of the Galaxy:
"I think it needs to be injected with that sort of smart wit and unexpected kind of humor, kind of what James Gunn came in and did with Guardians [Of The Galaxy]. It was like off center and unpredictable and I think we can definitely use a dose of that, you know."
Again, to their credit, the Thor films had their charm, as well as comedic bits. The laughs and smiles weren't the issue. It was the other stuff. Reportedly, Thor: Ragnarok had a script that was deemed "too dark" by Marvel which helped Taika Waititi land the job of directing it, to help make it "lighter." Waititi's work writing, producing, starring in, and directing What We Do in the Shadows was tremendous and unique so if Marvel's looking to replicate the success of James Gunn's Guardians they certainly made a good pick for the director's chair.
"We’ve done regal. We’ve done Shakespeare, and we’ve shown that. I think now it’s time to go, 'Ok, cool. Let’s try something different,' and Taika just had such a brilliant sort of take and funny kind of ideas about where we could, how we could do that."
Being different won't be an issue it seems for the third Thor movie. We already know from the film's title announcement last October that this particular story - which may prove to be the last Chris Hemsworth Thor movie - will have a major impact on the Marvel Cinematic Universe leading into Avengers: Infinity War. It's Marvel's first movie to be shot in Australia and more importantly, it's been confirmed that Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner a.k.a. The Incredible Hulk will be co-starring in what's being described as a buddy adventure.
New characters will be introduced in Ragnarok as well, including - if rumors are true - the first main female villain in the franchise and perhaps another hero in Valkyrie (more on that here). Just like Captain America: Civil War is serving as a massive event-style ensemble, Marvel is looking to do the same to bolster the marketability and importance of Thor: Ragnarok. There's a lot riding on Thor 3. What do you want to see?
Captain America: Civil War will release on May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange - November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 - May 5, 2017; Spider-Man - July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok - November 3, 2017; Black Panther - February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 - May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp - July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel - March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.