by Ricardo Williams
I know what you’re thinking “everything Marvel does is great, they can do no wrong”– well, except for Agents of SHIELD. And Iron Fist. Those shows are dumb but they’re on TV, so they don’t really count and they clearly haven’t (and won’t) hurt Marvel’s movie domination. With 14 films released and 12 more in various stages of production, the Marvel Studios series has collectively grossed over $10.9 billion at the global box office, making it the highest-grossing film franchise of all-time. That’s right, a film franchise based off comic book characters (many of whom previously unknown to the general public) has done to almost everyone what they’ve been doing to me and my friends our entire lives: normalizing fringe fandom and mainstreaming superhero obsession.
And they have been overwhelming successful with what few have dared to consider, try, or fail and that is… the shared movie universe. A set of smaller film franchises and universes that are deeply interconnected and weave into a larger ensemble. These movies act more as necessary companion films to each other, rather than traditional sequels… or even spin-offs. Now everyone wants to do it- I’m looking at you DC Extended Universe. (somehow that just doesn’t have the same ring to it)
They’ve completely changed the industry and inspired so many current standards that all of this seems familiar, like its always been done this way- but it hasn’t. It may feel like a long time ago but remember, their first film only came out in 2008. That’s right, just 9 years ago the world fell in love with Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, reminding us that despite his rocky past he is truly one of the greatest actors of our time.
Since then, its been pretty much good reviews and bags of money for Marvel. Even at their worst, they are somehow still more entertaining and more successful than all other franchises. Though some would argue that is because the universe is filled with so many Easter eggs and connected plot points that fans are encouraged to see even the weaker films just so they understand the bigger picture. While others would say the deeply connected movie universe hinders the creativity and freedom of some of the filmmakers and has led to creating those weaker films. Which brings us to Thor… and its slightly more exciting sequel. Although the Thor franchise has given us the beautiful Chris Hemsworth, the legendary Anthony Hopkins, and easily Marvel’s best on-screen villain (Loki, not Malekith), it hasn’t really quite delivered in the masterpiece department like the first Iron Man or Captain America: Winter Solider or Guardians of the Galaxy— but I think that’s about to change.
Today, Marvel dropped the teaser trailer for the third entry in the franchise: Thor: Ragnarok. Dare I say it, but the trailer itself has more suspense, excitement, and humor in 2-minutes than the previous films combined. I’ve said this for years and I truly mean it: THOR SHOULD BE ONE OF THE MOST EXCITING ELEMENTS OF THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE… but it hasn’t been. They have all the ingredients of a great movie experience, but somehow have fallen short. They’ve got space, aliens, Gods (who are really just aliens), warriors, inter-dimensional travel, Anthony Hopkins’ voice, a badass theme by Brian Tyler, and a handsome lead actor. From the looks of the Ragnarok trailer, most of the ingredients are still in play- so what’s different now?
1.) The incredibly versatile (and now gothic) Cate Blanchett
2.) The destruction of Mjolnir and Asgard
3.) The quirkiness of Jeff Goldblum
4.) Some GOTG inspiration aka retro graphics and a retro song (LED ZEPPELIN!!!!)