The Thor: Love and Thunder teaser trailer is set to a beloved, driving classic rock staple. The song cuts out for a dramatic beat in order to land a cutesy punchline before picking up again and rolling to the dramatic conclusion.
If that sounds familiar…well, that’s because it is imitating and referencing the Thor: Ragnarok teaser trailer. Though, alas, it’s not as good.
Guns N’Roses “Sweet Child of Mine” is a great performance, but it isn’t the thundering Viking freight train of gung-gung-ga-gung-gung that is Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” The music selection isn’t the only place where the sequel has fallen off, though. The Ragnarok trailer is unique in the MCU in the way it deliberately humiliates its hero, and cheerfully mocks the idea of (white, male, large hammer-holding) heroism. Love and Thunder is (despite a gay goof or two) a much more conventional, we-promise-you-you-are-going-to-see-the-hero-do-heroic-things effort.
The Ragnarok trailer starts off with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) hanging from chains as he ruefully muses, “I know what you’re thinking. How did this happen?” He then watches Hela (Cate Blanchett) destroy his hammer, in a gleeful symbolic castration. After that, he greets an antagonist with a hearty, bluff, “Hi there” before immediately getting tied up and knocked out. Finally, he is shown striding into an arena, where he has to face the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Rather than engage in manly fisticuffs though, he shouts like a happy child, “We know each other! He’s a friend from work!” He looks thoroughly disappointed when the Hulk doesn’t take his cue, but instead turns on him and prepares to beat him to a pulp.
This is all set to the overwhelmingly virile pound of Page/Bonham/Jones, and Robert Plant’s feral keening. The music says, “Triumph, mighty one, and place the skulls of your enemies upon pikes!” while Thor stumbles from one pratfall punchline to the next, the great hero as a flatulent punching bag. Hemsworth is by turns cheerful and exasperated, a friendly himbo lost in a land of ascendant goth girls and punctured masculinity. The trailer is an exhilarating fart in the direction of superheroism in general and the MCU in particular. It promises the perfect anti-Marvel Marvel movie that director Taika Waititi toys with but doesn’t quite deliver in the full-length feature version.
The Love and Thunder trailer nods and shimmies towards this kind of deflation. Thor declares he’s no longer a superhero for one thing. Later, and more emphatically, he stares longingly into the eyes of Starlord (Chris Pratt) in a flirtatious homoerotic moment that cuts against the hearty hetero Marvel male standard.
But otherwise, this trailer follows a pretty typical MCU path, showing you Thor doing exciting, forceful, successful superhero-type things. He lifts and flourishes heavy chains. He rides dramatically in a flying sky boat He kisses an attractive blue-haired lady pirate. He gives someone an enthusiastic high-five. He stands next to a flaming ax. There are special effects. There is a portentous voice-over about journeys and self-discovery.
None of that is bad. The trailer feels light-hearted and fun. We get a glimpse of Jane Foster as Thor, which is cool. There’s a dramatic, lovely shot of an enormous dead dinosaur-like beastie. And did I mention lady pirates? There’s nothing wrong with lady pirates. Especially if they have blue hair.
In short, the trailer is an enjoyable minute and a half which holds the attention. It suggests that Thor: Love and Thunder will be an appealing MCU film, with some wit, some self-awareness, and a solid visual aesthetic. The trailer stands up well next to other MCU blurbs—the ponderous Multiverse of Madness with its blaring soundtrack and mediocre CGI; the giant exposition dump of The Eternals; the obligatory convoluted plot summary of Spider-Man: No Way Home.
It’s only in comparison to Thor: Ragnarok’s teaser that Love and Thunder feels wanting. Ragnarok is an honest-to-Odin work of art, that has something to say about heroism, masculinity, and the exhilaration of embracing and subverting both.
Love and Thunder is just a decent trailer. Which would be fine if Waititi didn’t so deliberately remind us that he can do better if he really wants to. Maybe he went to that classic rock well once too often. Next time, Taika, the fans demand R&B.
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This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Image Credit: Marvel Studios.
Noah Berlatsky is a freelance writer based in Chicago. His book, Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics was published by Rutgers University Press. He thinks the Adam West Batman is the best Batman, darn it.