Among the central protagonists of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor has become one of the main pivots of the entire sprawling saga. One of the few remaining members of the original Avengers team still involved in the story, the new trailer for Thor: Love and Thunder has become an internet sensation, with the film set to do big business this summer. But Thor wasn’t always such a popular character among fans; his first two films Thor and Thor: The Dark World, both drew mixed reactions from fans and critics alike. Until Taika Waititi showed up.
writing and directing Thor: Ragnarok, Waititi gave the ongoing adventures of the Asgardian god a completely revised style and tone that drew more closely on the absurdity and frivolity inherent in the character and Hemsworth’s acting skills. Back then, Waititi credited John Carpenter’s groundbreaking cult classic Big trouble in Little China as the primary source of inspiration for Ragnarokand now it looks like Waititi is doubling down, with Thor: Love and Thunder to take this ubiquitous influence to a new level.
Big Trouble in Little China is a masterpiece of madness by John Carpenter
The 80’s were a strange time for John Carpenter. Get the spectacular unprecedented success of the 1978s HalloweenCarpenter came running out of the gate with one classic after another and delivered Someone is watching me!, elvis, Escape from New York, The fog and the thing within the next few years. Despite 1982 the thing One of the most masterful sci-fi horror films ever brought to the screen, as well as a personal favorite of Carpenter himself, the film was a box office flop and was initially met with derision from critics of the time. This meant that Carpenter continued to do excellent work throughout the ’80s, but strayed from his established oeuvre with films like the 1984 romantic drama starman and the electrically defiant genre mix of Big trouble in Little China 1986
Featuring frequent iconic Carpenter collaborators such as Kurt Russell and cinematographer Dean Cundey. Big trouble in Little China was a wild fusion of the traditional martial arts movies Carpenter grew up watching, slapstick comedy and supernatural horror, with a love story thrown in for good measure. It’s an absolutely insane, maximalist, immersive thrill of a movie. A big part of why it works so well is Kurt Russell’s phenomenal performance as leading man Jack Burton. Burton is a completely clueless everyman whom Carpenter uses to actually undermine the traditional role of white savior; He’s a clumsy buffoon who happens to be the focus of this fantastic story, which is played in a completely direct way.
It was here that Waititi found such tangible inspiration for his interpretation of Thor Thor: Ragnarokand said, “The thing I love about this movie is Jack Burton, all he wants, the only thing he wants is to get his truck back. Something so simple and all this crazy stuff going on… That was one of the main focuses of this film. Thor is always in the background asking the questions we ask.”
Waititi’s Thor movies turn the god of thunder into Jack Burton
This new version of Thor also happened to coincide with the fact that Chris Hemsworth, it turns out, is not only one of the most handsome leads in Hollywood, but also one of the funniest. As shown in movies as Vacation, ghostbusters and Bad times at El RoyaleHemsworth has a fantastic understanding of using physicality in his performances to enhance comedy and seeing him apply that to Thor in films like Thor Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame was really wonderful.
Now, with Waititi back at the helm for Thor: Love and Thunder, he seems to have taken it as a personal challenge to surpass himself and the Russo brothers and deliver an even more fantastic story to encompass an even more simply motivated Thor. In the new trailer, surrounded by gods of all kinds and cosmically catastrophic missions at seemingly every corner, Thor’s main motivation is Jane Foster. Natalie Portman’s recurring character seems happy to see Thor, but as it may be, Thor is absolutely thrilled to see her again and can even remember the exact time that has passed since they last met.
Simultaneously, while Ragnarok gently pushing the aesthetic boundaries of the MCU into more ’80s influenced Jack Kirby-esque territory, love and thunder appears to quadruple to embrace an aesthetic committed to increased cosmic shenanigans and genre blending at every turn. As wonderfully pronounced as Big trouble in Little China‘s influence was on Thor: RagnarokIt seems like Taika made Waititi Thor: Love and Thunder an even more torrid love letter to Carpenter’s cult classic, both inside and out.
Thor: Love and Thunder Strikes in theaters on July 8, 2022.
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