Remember When Thor Wasn't A Total Goofball
This week’s episode of Marvel’s What If…? imagined what would have happened if Thor was an only child. It turns out he would have thrown a raging intergalactic kegger on Earth, featuring partygoers such as The Grandmaster, giant blue frost giant Loki, and Howard the Duck, who totally hooks up with Darcy Lewis, because Marvel is apparently no longer afraid of interspecies romances between humans and waterfowl. In full drunken trust fund kid mode, this is arguably Thor at his goofiest.
It’s easy to forget that this character was originally taken dead seriously in the MCU. The 2011 Thor movie was, of course, directed by Kenneth Branagh, who was clearly hired to give the character a sense of Shakesperian bombast. In interviews at the time, Branagh described how he saw the character of Thor as “volatile” and even “dangerous.”
But slowly, the character began to evolve into the comedic focal point of the MCU, partly because Hemsworth is just a funny dude, which a lot of us didn’t fully realize until his turn as Kevin, the receptionist in the 2016 Ghostbusters.
Then when Taika Waititi took over the Thor franchise, he openly described his desire to dismantle and rebuild the character. And even before Thor: Ragnarok hit theatres, Waititi began shifting our tonal understanding of Thor through a series of humorous shorts featuring Thor and his roommate Darryl.
But Thor’s reinvention, so evident in What If…? arguably wouldn’t have worked without those early, decidedly un-funny movies. The later Thor appearances (including Infinity War’s prosthetic beer belly Thor) work as a subversion of the stuffy, self-serious version we were first introduced to. This is how Branagh sees it, too, citing his movie as an “emotional ballast” for all of the wacky hijinks that came afterward. So in a roundabout way, it was Sir Kenneth Branagh, a legitimate British Knight, who paved the way for Howard the Duck to once again get laid.
Top Image: Marvel