Just about every Avenger is going to be returning for this May's Captain America: Civil War with the exception of two notable names: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). However, the green rage monster and God of Thunder will get their moment in the spotlight during Marvel's Phase 3 when they unite for Thor: Ragnarok, the third installment of Thor's "solo" film series.
The announcement of Ruffalo joining the cast was a pleasant surprise for fans, as his take on Bruce Banner/Hulk quickly became a hit with audiences. Previously, Ruffalo described the film as a "buddy pic," and now he's revealed a bit more when it comes to the tone Marvel is striving for while developing the project.
“There’s a little bit of Midnight Run, with [Charles] Grodin and [Robert] De Niro. I feel like that’s kind of where we’re heading with this relationship between Thor and Banner. It is a universal road movie – that’s where we’re heading. It’s not where you'd think it will be, so it’s not your classic road movie but it has that structure, I think."
Even though Ragnarok, as defined in Norse mythology, essentially translates to the end of all things, the studio wants to go in a different direction for the film. Taika Waititi, helmsman of the vampire spoof What We Do in the Shadows, is calling the shots on Thor 3. And late last year, the studio brought in comedy writer Stephany Folsom to fine tune the script, after they found the initial draft by Christopher Yost and Craig Kyle to be too dark. It's obvious Marvel is going for something light-hearted, and Ruffalo's comparison to the classic Midnight Run is just further confirmation of that.
It is interesting that Ruffalo would bring up that film when describing the relationship between Thor and Banner. In Midnight Run, De Niro's Jack Walsh and Grodin's Jonathan Mardukas had an antagonistic dynamic before warming up to each other on their journey. It would be odd if Thor and Hulk were in a similar place after fighting together in two Avengers films, but fans shouldn't expect a literal Midnight Run remake set in the Marvel universe. Ruffalo is most likely referencing the stellar chemistry between De Niro and Grodin, which was vital to Midnight Run's success. Ruffalo told Empire the real-life friendship between him and Hemsworth was what encouraged Marvel to pair the two for a film, so they'll probably be allies with playful banter throughout.
Ruffalo's tease of a "universal road movie" is an intriguing one for fans hoping to see more of the universe in Thor 3. Kevin Feige has stated that very little of the film takes place on Earth, with most of the events being set in the cosmos. That should be a refreshing change of pace not just for the Thor movies, but for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general. In Phase 3 they'll be embracing more fantastical elements with projects like Doctor Strange, so it only makes sense for the God of Thunder to be a part of that.
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.