Thor: Ragnarok is the third—and presumably final—solo film for Marvel’s god of thunder, but if the marketing is any indication, he’s going out with a bang. Pairing retro aesthetics with director Taika Waititi’s unique brand of humor, marketing has moved away from the dark, brooding superhero film and into a brightly colored comedy.
Films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including Thor and Thor: The Dark World, have shared a few laughs amid dramatic fight scenes and saving the world. Marketing for Thor: Ragnarok, along with the promise of epic battles, has focused almost entirely on comedic dialogue and situations.
One frequently used trailer scene shows Thor pitted against The Hulk, only to excitedly announce to the entire coliseum that they’re friends from work.
Taika Waititi (What We Do In The Shadows, Hunt For The Wilder People) set the comedic stage with a duo of short films last fall. The shorts “Team Thor” not only explain why Thor and The Hulk were not included in Captain America: Civil War, but helped promote the film’s digital release. Audiences got a sneak peek into what Thor has been up to, and met his roommate Darryl.
“That helped us a lot, by shooting [Team Thor],” Waititi told Den of Geek. “It just gave fans the opportunity to see just how irreverent we were gonna be, and just how different we were making Thor, and [Bruce Banner/The Hunk] as well.”
Overall marketing for Thor: Ragnarok has been of the “feel good” kind. Cate Blanchett, who plays Hela, the goddess of death, was the spokeswoman for Marvel’s Superpower of STEM Challenge—challenging teenage girls to “help their family, community or the world be a safer place.”
Participants created do-it-yourself projects using STEM skills that could be easily replicated by others. Five finalists were invited to the red carpet premiere of Thor: Ragnarok received the opportunity to present their projects to a panel of experts and present the winning project on Good Morning America.
Marketing for the Thor: Ragnarok took advantage of recurring internet themes on social media. Blanchett offered some inspirational advice to fans for Monday Motivation and helped explain the meaning of the word “Ragnarok.”
Marvel invited fans to use the Twitter hashtag #WhatsRagnarok to share their definitions of the word, serious or not. Jeff Goldblum was filmed responding to some of the definitions, which proved to distract the 63-year-old actor when he encountered unusual usernames and acronyms such as “LMAO.”
— Marvel Studios (@MarvelStudios) October 10, 2017
Taking advantage of the film’s timing with Halloween, Marvel touted the slogan “Hellaween” in honor of Blanchett’s character and shared a recipe for candy apples made to look like Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir.
After the success of Guardians of the Galaxy with director James Gunn’s comedic, light-hearted take on the superhero genre, Marvel may have been more open to the idea of a film that is as much comedy as spectacle.
Thor: Ragnarok is expected to reach $400 million at the global box office this weekend—an impressive feat considering the original film earned a lifetime revenue of $449 million.