That’s kind of an ominous title, isn’t it? In Norse mythology, it’s essentially the end of all things. In Thor comics, it’s sort of the same thing. And with the contracts of certain actors coming close to an end, could this be the beginning of recasting?
This is my pick for biggest impact of any solo hero film yet. It’s going to be bigger than anything Marvel Studios has attempted yet and it’s probably going to floor a lot of people. Fans should prepare themselves now for quite a few major character deaths. Everything about the title suggests we’re in for quite a bit.
Is there any possibility this movie won’t be a success? Maybe. Could this be the end of the road for Thor as a franchise all together? Iron Man ended at three, after all. Robert Downey Jr. is still making appearances in various Marvel movies, but what might this mean for Chris Hemsworth? He’s got two movies left on his contract after Avengers: Age of Ultron, and we know the third Avengers film has been split into two films so…could this be it?
Here we go!
Whosoever holds this hammer…
Thor was a gamble that has paid off big for Marvel Studios. The first film cost around $150 million to make and brought in over $449 million worldwide. The Dark World had a price tag of $170 million and clocked in around $664 million worldwide. Not a bad haul.
With something as big as Ragnarok is likely to be, the price tag is headed north, for sure. Expect something around the $200 million mark as this one’s likely to spend as much time away from Earth as on it. If you’ll remember, The Dark World spent a good deal of time traversing the nine realms, but Earth was saved for the climax, mostly anyway.
Raknarok, from the comics source material, is a hugely expansive story that will take Thor and company to worlds we haven’t seen yet and possibly introduce new concepts to the film universe that have only ever been seen on the comic page. Adding those things in will surely add to the already expanded budget, so get ready for the biggest Thor film of them all.
The ballooning budget of this series brings up another point of contention: should it continue past this third film? Iron Man is likely done after its third outing, there are rumors pointing to Captain America wrapping up (with Chris Evans in the lead, at least); so why not close out Thor, too? With the upcoming introduction of so many new franchises, it only makes sense that Disney is going to have to start budgeting its money a little bit in order to keep the Marvel Studios films profitable. If too many of them hit the market at once, they’ll all have to start hitting higher and higher box office numbers in order to keep the profit margin in the black. Quality isn’t really so much an issue given the studio’s track record, but what can they do about movie ticket prices? Have those come down at all over the last decade? The answer is obvious.
There’s little chance this movie won’t succeed at the box office. It’s likely to break somewhere around the $750 million mark worldwide, $800 million at most and that’s only if it’s well-received enough by audiences and critics. Even with those numbers, it still seems likely that this third film may be the last for this iteration of Thor, especially given the title. But what could happen to close this out? Isn’t Thor supposed to be in Avengers: Infinity War? Well, A Thor will be in it for sure…
If (s)he be worthy…
Recently, Thor fans might have noticed a slight change in the current comic book series. A new Thor is wielding the hammer, and SHE is proving to be just as much fun to read as her male counterpart. Don’t tell the folks on Twitter or at your local comic shop though, they tend to get grouchy over girls invading “their” territory. My esteemed colleague, Tim Capel wrote a great piece on it earlier. And so did I!
It’s no secret Marvel Comics likes to line up its happenings with the films, at least the ones from Marvel Studios. Ragnarok is all about the death of Asgard and major Asgardians like Odin, Thor and Loki. With Loki impersonating Odin on the throne right now, this could be the catalyst for a Nine Realms war that rips apart Asgard and leads to the deaths of several characters. While in the comics, Thor Odinson became unworthy of wielding the hammer (for reasons as yet unknown to us), he could do something truly horrific in the film and lose it (and possibly an arm, see the comics for details). A new Thor could step in to replace him and why not make it the current female Thor?
This is, of course, only if the current movie Thor actually does die/become unworthy. There are other possibilities for Ragnarok, including it being a possible reference to a villain of the same name who happens to be a clone of Thor. Now that would be an interesting thing to get into and could work as a tie to Captain America: Civil War, as well. Of course, in the comics, Ragnarok was created as a replacement for Thor when he was presumed dead. He was crafted from one of Thor’s hairs that Tony Stark had saved from the Avengers first meeting. Hank Pym (the original Ant-Man) and Reed Richards (Fantastic Four, won’t be in the movie, likely ever. Fox owns the rights. Don’t ask.) helped. With Pym being introduced in the upcoming Ant-Man film (played by Michael Douglas, but he won’t actually be Ant-Man because they wanted to use Scott Lang instead with Paul Rudd in the role because…reasons) he could wind up playing a significant role in this movie. It’s possible Thor could “die” during the film and a clone replacement of him could step in as a replacement, but using a fake hammer as a clone would likely be unworthy. Or the hammer could be missing along with its wielder.
As most of this would take place away from Earth, the rest of the Avengers might not even be aware all of this is happening. In fact, you could have Thor not be replaced by a clone until the very end of the movie (maybe post-credits scene) and only one or two Avengers be aware of it. Maybe they find out about the war, realize Thor is gone but decide the Avengers have to have a Thor on the team in order to be ready for what might be coming (Thanos). Like I said, worlds of possibility here and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I didn’t even get into Surtur, the fire demon who appeared in the Ragnarok story line in Thor comics. Thor could easily become unworthy of the hammer if he allowed that thing to decimate Asgard as he did in the comic book storyline. Good reasons, maybe, but it would cause rampant death and that might just cause Mjolnir to become a might bit heavy for him. Plus, Surtur would look totally badass on screen! We’ve covered the other two major Thor villain groups (Frost Giants, Dark Elves) so the Fire Demons would round out the trilogy and should wrap up Thor’s major character arc.
Other characters like The Enchantress and The Executioner are rumored to be in the film, as well and could have vital roles to play going forward, not just in this movie. As for a director, we haven’t heard much but it’s a safe bet that it’ll be someone who hasn’t directed a Thor film before. The last two movies each had different directors and this one will as well, I think. While I thought Alan Taylor did a fine job on Thor: The Dark World, each Thor film has had a different tone so far and this one needs to be even darker than The Dark World. Phase Three for Marvel Studios is looking bleak so far.
Shall possess the power of Thor!
This movie has an opportunity to do something the Thor comics just can’t do and that’s end a major character on a heroic note while allowing a new character to step in and replace him. The idea of legacy characters is something the comic book films should fully embrace because, well, actors age out of roles. Chris Hemsworth could still be Thor for a few more turns, but eventually his age will start to show, just like Robert Downey Jr’s has started to over the last couple of years. He may be great as Iron Man, but immortal he is not. Ditto for Hemsworth.
Comics are a completely different medium in that you can draw characters to be whatever age you want them to be. Time can pass as quickly or slowly as you like. Characters can stay the same age forever and nobody can really say “hey, that guy/girl is way too hold to be doing that now.” Actors, however, are human and won’t be able to do these kind of movies forever. Nor should they have to or even want to keep going. Hemsworth’s contract is up in two films, including this one. And since this is the third film in the Thor franchise (never thought I’d see the day) it’s time to wrap it up. That’s not to say a new Thor couldn’t take his place. Ragnarok is about the death of Asgard and the Norse Gods, but it’s also about rebirth. It could be that we see a new Thor, Odin and Loki rise from the ashes and give us a much-less messy recasting than, say, trying to shoehorn in some other actor to be Tony Stark or Steve Rogers (not like they don’t have options there, either).
We still have some time before this one hits theaters, and a lot could change between now and then. But if Hemsworth doesn’t sign a new contract and/or the top brass decide they want a new direction (New Avengers, anyone?) it’s likely an era is about to come to an end. But, we could be all the better for it and the movies will be able to explore storytelling methods some of us comics fans have always hoped to see on the page. Now that should be deemed worthy.
Opens July 28, 2017. Subject to change, of course.
Come back next week for a breakdown of Black Panther!