Now, for fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there are few more rewarding pursuits than arguing tirelessly over which films in the MCU's ever-expanding back catalog are the best. For many, the oh-so-old-school Iron Man and The Avengers still reign supreme, while for others the more recent Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: Civil War have taken the crown and are refusing to give it back, no matter how nicely Joss Whedon asks them.
What, though, of the less fondly remembered Marvel movies? Is there anyone out there whose favorite MCU movie is Iron Man II or Ant-Man? Captain America: The First Avenger has a small but devoted following (which includes this writer), but it remains largely overlooked. And, perhaps most widely maligned of all, there's the Thor franchise. Both Thor and Thor: The Dark World may have been fairly well-received upon release, but they have since become the butt of countless jokes at the thunder god's expense - and wound up at the very bottom of numerous 'best of the MCU' lists.
With a third Thor movie soon set to arrive on the big screen, though, it's perhaps time to ask:
Can Thor: Ragnarok Change The Way We See The Thor Franchise?
After all, though the past two Thor movies may have been much-maligned for their lackluster villainy (Loki-aside) and occasional trouble blending the high fantasy of Asgard with the everyday adventures of Jane Foster and co. back on Earth, there's every reason to believe that the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok has been designed specifically to counter such issues.
Speaking of which, check out more on Thor: Ragnarok right here:
- Did Marvel Just Confirm That A "Strange Doctor" Is Heading To 'Thor: Ragnarok'?
- Thor's Short Hair In 'Thor: Ragnarok' Could Be A Bigger Deal Than You Think
- Will 'Thor: Ragnarok' Be Affected By Marvel's Latest 'Doctor Strange' Reveal?
Here, then, are three of the key ways in which Thor: Ragnarok could well change the way we see the Thor franchise forever. First up?
1. It's Set To Have An Incredible Villain (Or Four)
Now, having multiple lead villains can create its own problems for a movie, but with the Thor series thus far having been widely criticized for its lack of compelling villainy (Loki has always been more of an antagonistic anti-hero), the idea of seeing a full contingent of classic Marvel villains in the movie is incredibly appealing. What's more, with those antagonists set to be played by Cate Blanchett (Hela, above), Karl Urban (Skurge), Jeff Goldblum (Grandmaster) and, of course, Tom Hiddleston (Loki), there's enough acting talent in there to more-or-less guarantee some quality villainy.
2. It's Set To Bring A Whole New Dynamic To The Franchise
Specifically, a classic buddy comedy set-up. Thor: The Dark World flirted with the odd couple formula when it pushed Thor and Loki together in its later stages, but with the pair essentially enacting an old-school Cain and Abel-type tale of brotherly mistrust, we didn't exactly get to see Lethal Weapon: The Hammer Edition. Thor: Ragnarok, on the other hand, looks likely to feature a whole lot of Mark 'Hulk' Ruffalo and Chris 'Thor' Hemsworth hurtling around in traditional buddy comedy fashion. Which seems set to not only retain the franchise's long-standing comedic streak, but also to offer audiences a more accessible - and fan-pleasing - central narrative.
Plus, of course, perhaps most importantly of all:
3. It's Set To Embrace A Whole New Genre
Specifically, that of science fiction. With the first two Thor movies struggling to straddle both high fantasy and Earth-bound action adventure (all wrapped up in a vaguely science fiction-y setting), it was often tough to tell just what sort of movies they wanted to be. That looks set to be far less of an issue for Thor: Ragnarok, with the film seeming set to embrace the MCU's sci-fi side, and send Thor and Hulk half-way across the universe... most likely to the fan-favorite 'Planet Hulk'. Now, a genre-change alone isn't likely to do much to alter fan-thinking on the series, but one seemingly designed to make Thor: Ragnarok as viscerally entertaining as possible? Well, that just might.
The big question all of that leaves, though?
(Other than what we're going to see in the post-credits sequence, of course...)
What do you reckon? Will Thor: Ragnarok change the way we all see the Thor franchise? Let us know below!