Spoilers for Thor: Ragnarok.
Thor: Ragnarok was, for the most part, very faithful to its incredible, Led Zepplin-scored trailers - Taika Waititi's film is both the knockabout bromance comedy and the Norse epic they sold - although some scenes and shots didn't make the cut. Are these signs of a delayed edit or evidence of the film's seemingly substantial reshoots?
Differences between trailers and the finished film are inevitable for massive productions where the film is only in early post-production as the marketing ramps up. The director doesn't know what's going to be in the final cut, let alone the trailer editors, and marketing often picks what looks cool over what looks accurate besides. The most famous recent example is Rogue One, whose first teaser contains only half-a-dozen shots that made it into the final film due to extensive reshoots, but it's been very common in Marvel movies for a long while now too. And, while it's no Rogue One, Ragnarok definitely has some glaring omissions. A good chunk of adjusted dialogue is likely a result of Taika Waititi's love of improv, but anything bigger raises the question of the big "R".
Read More: Around 80% of Thor: Ragnarok Was Improvised
Before getting into details and discussing potential changes to the story, it's worth recapping Thor's production. The movie filmed in Australia from July to October 2016. Its first teaser released in April 2017, then three weeks of reshoots took place in July 2017, just before the official trailer debuted at SDCC. This means everything shown up until that point was from the original shoot, with reshot elements coming in later. Now, reshoots are of course part of the usual filmmaking process, doubly true of tentpoles, but all of this evidences at least one big change to Ragnarok - and perhaps more.
The Location Change of Mjolnir's Destruction
In the teaser and subsequent trailers, the inciting incident of Mjolnir's destruction took place in a New York City alley. This fit with the conventional understanding of the film's opening - Thor and Loki go to Manhattan to find the banished Odin, running into Doctor Strange before Hela is unleashed. Around early October, this was flipped and in the finished film the pivotal moment took place atop a cliff in Norway; this is where Odin has been hiding out, so Strange portals his sons there to witness his death before their sister appears.
Considering how prominent the alley sequence was in the marketing, this really stood out, doubly so because several associated elements showcased the scene - set photos had Hobo Odin in New York and further trailer shots showed Hela bathing herself with an orange glow. This leaves us to conclude that the entire sequence (including a different farewell to Stephen Strange), as well as the flashes back to Odin in Thor's visions throughout the film, were a key part of the reshoots. The only element that remains is the re-green screened shots of Thor throwing and Hela grabbing the hammer.
Waititi has actually addressed this change, saying that it was a result of pacing and tone - the scene felt too quick happening just down the road from the Sanctum Sanctorum and didn't provide a quite fitting enough death for Odin - which makes total sense, although doesn't explain the full picture. This is more than a location change or a sincering up of Hopkins' character; Hela no longer gains her form from an orange glow. We're not saying the original plan was actually for the All-Father to have the Soul Stone and his death see her taking control, but Hela seems to have taken a more direct power advantage from Odin in earlier drafts.
All-in-all, while Waititi makes a fair case, this one's a shame. The alley may be convenient, but it's more interesting than a field and plays into the film's more Highlander-esque vibes. But while that's the most pronounced alteration, we have deeper to go.