Thor: Ragnarok features an all-new look and costume with short hair for Chris Hemworth, which represents a "rebirth" of the character, and potentially a new future for the Asgardian Avenger within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Iron Man was the character who helped launch the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He was beloved by fans, his trilogy was the big money maker, and Iron Man 1 is still a fave among many moviegoers out of the entire franchise. But then Iron Man 2 happened and, after The Avengers, Iron Man 3 happened. The last one was a bit divisive due to its deviations from the source material, despite being a well-constructed standalone adventure, but there's no one out there who can say Iron Man 2 is a great movie for the brand.
Still, Iron Man 3 banked over a billion dollars for Disney-Marvel and to this day is the most profitable solo character flick that benefited from the 'high' of The Avengers. For the other original solo Avengers, the Captain America series has since taken that mantle. The sequel, The Winter Soldier, is another hit that fans can debate might be the best of the MCU, and its followup was essentially a double-team-up movie, with literally twice as many Avengers as the original. But where does that leave poor Thor and Mjolnir leading up to Thor: Ragnarok?
Hemsworth's Asgardian prince was nowhere to be seen during the events of Captain America: Civil War - rightfully so of course, given the situation - but the character hasn't had the best journey otherwise. His arc in Avengers: Age of Ultron was incomplete and out of place at times, and his own sequel, Thor: The Dark World was a mess, so much so that the director (Alan Taylor) expressed his own frustrations with the process to us when we visited the set, and didn't return for more. Perhaps it's all of that added up that fueled rumors that Hemsworth wasn't too pleased with the whole situation and was ready for his multi-picture deal to expire with Marvel post-Avengers 3.
But then everything changed.
Hemsworth wanted his own next movie to be something better and more fun. He expressed on numerous occasions that he wanted Thor 3 to be more like James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy and he's getting exactly that with Thor: Ragnarok. This third Thor entry is not only almost entirely cosmic (cya later, Natalie Portman!), but it's gunning (no pun intended) to be one of the funniest movies from Marvel Studios yet. Thor: Ragnarok shot in Australia, very close to home and family for its title star, and directing it is genius funnyman Taika Waititi, who's coming off the amazing Hunt for the Wilderpeople and who seems to get on fabulously with Marvel's other creatives on social media, in addition to the cast and crew. And on top of all of that, helping bolster the 'event' status of Ragnarok is the addition of Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner a.k.a. The Incredible Hulk - the other Avenger absent from Civil War.
So things are looking up. Since those 2013 reports of cast negotiation issues, the universe has changed quite a bit. Spider-Man joined the fold, giving Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark more to do, and Avengers 3 became two separate movies that are both currently in production, which means all of the cast contracts have evolved as each actor's involvement expands and changes. And symbolic of all of this is today's EW cover photo for Thor: Ragnarok, featuring Hemsworth rocking an all-new costume and look, and standing between two entirely new characters in the MCU: the villainous Hela played by Cate Blanchett (and first lead female villain of the franchise) and ally Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson).
In the image, Hemsworth's long golden locks are gone, as is his traditional Asgardian garb and his mighty weapon Mjolnir. That means less time in makeup for the star and more importantly, according to Hemsworth, it means a "rebirth" of the character.
“It felt like a rebirth for me as the actor but also as the character.”
Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige adds, “I have a belief that if you’re lucky enough to get to part 3 of a franchise, it is your obligation not to fall to threequel-itis,” referring to doing something new and different with Thor: Ragnarok. And if this works; if critics and fans love it and it banks well at the box office, perhaps this "rebirth" is exactly that. Perhaps, just like Chris Evans changed his tune on retiring from acting after his Marvel contract, Hemsworth will want to stick around. Perhaps everything here is signifying renewed interest and a reinvigorated sense of passion for the role.
Hemsworth has found recent success in more comedic roles from his supporting parts in Vacation and Ghostbusters to the incredibly funny Marvel Studios Team Thor shorts (here's the first one too) and that's more fun to play for him. Perhaps this rebirth Hemsworth teases - and whatever happens in Avengers: Infinity War (where Thor fights alongside Rocket Raccoon!) - will keep him around for the long-term? Asgard and its connections to Earth and the cosmic are important to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and so there's always room for Thor stories. Also a factor, is that outside of Marvel, The Huntsman: Winter's War, In the Heart of the Sea, and Blackhat were all box office and critical bombs... so that helps.
More importantly, Thor is a unique character with lots of potential and lore to be explored. He can be both comedic, and wise when needed. He is, after all, the most experienced and knowledgeable Avenger. Marvel should use that more. If not, there's always female Thor from the comics for Marvel Phase 4 if needed.
In Marvel Studios’ ‘Thor: Ragnarok’, Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok—the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization—at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela. But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger—the Incredible Hulk!
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019