Humor

How humor has always been the most important element of the Marvel Cinematic Universe | Screen News | Spokane | Interior of the Pacific Northwest

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The divine power of Chris Hemsworth’s buffoonery has been unlocked in Thor: Ragnarok.

Quick – what’s your favorite climactic battle in a non-Avengers movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

If you’re a casual movie buff and not a super fan who watches each movie dozens of times, can you describe any of those great fights – apart from the Avengers tents of the battle of New York, End of Gamethe Battle of Earth, and possibly Age of UltronThe Battle of Sokovia – down to the smallest detail? I bet you can’t.

It’s not that these combat moments aren’t thrilling theatrical experiences at the moment, but for all their cinematic spectacle (which admittedly can get bogged down in CGI overkill at times), they’ve never been the real reason the MCU works.

The key to the MCU isn’t epic superhero feats.

The key to the MCU is character-building comedy.

It was clear that was the case from the jump. The opening scene of Iron Man – the first MCU entry – finds Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark scolding him in the backseat of a military convoy. Nothing that comes out of his lips is a joke. In less than two minutes, he establishes his cocky bravado with a dozen jokes about Maxim models, MySpace and peace signs before the convoy is attacked by surprise.

Humor is the bedrock upon which the MCU’s comic book pop culture leviathan was founded, and it remains so to this day. The moments people come back to are when the comedy engenders a warm connection with these super-powered heroes.

That’s part of the reason the DC Extended Universe pales in comparison to Marvel’s cinematic imprint. Rather than colorful comic book joy, DCEU titles like Steel man, batman versus supermanand Justice League leaning into a violent, testosterone-fueled realm that always seemed to be trying too hard to be “badass.” It’s no coincidence that the only good DCEU films are those that are much more feminine and/or funny: Birds of prey, wonder woman, The Suicide Squad. (It’s also no coincidence that audiences and critics alike didn’t dig 2021 Eternalsthe MCU movie that most resembles a DCEU movie thanks to its largely humorless tone.)

In the MCU, we love Chris Evans’ Captain America because he’s an uncool out-of-time dweeb who rejoices when he understands a reference, likes to take on Stark’s verbal jabs, and can nail snappy PSA videos about changing bodies. high school students.

Guardians of the Galaxy became a hit despite being relatively unknown outside of comic book nerds because writer/director James Gunn treated the films like action comedies where a bunch of unlikely pals bust their chops the whole time (with Chris Pratt’s Starlord as the cocky space dufus, Bautista’s Dave Drax as the overly literalist straight man, a sly-talking raccoon, and a one-sentence talking tree).

Almost everyone agreed The ant Man was better than needed as it embraced its inherent absurdity and size-based sight gags. Paul Rudd can always deliver a wicked sense of humor, and even secondary characters like Michael Peña’s fast-talking Luis had fun repeating themselves.

Tom Holland became the best cinematic Spider-Man because he could authentically pull off Peter Parker’s awkward teenage misadventures and the demure taunts that Spidey unleashes with a frequency that rivals his web shooting.

Even Black Widow and Hawkeye were able to derive some humor at times from being the standards in the realm of ultra-powerful costume wearers. And their point of view is somehow crucial. The comedy makes the titans feel human and relatable. Without the jokes, they would feel like hollow vessels of power.

Click to enlarge The Norse god amusingly tries to find his place in the universe in Thor: Love & Thunder.

The Norse god amusingly tries to find his place in the universe by Thor: Love and Thunder.

No character embodies the importance of humor in the MCU as Thor. Director Kenneth Branagh attempted to take the character in a Shakespearean direction in 2011 Thor. The origin story had a bit of fish out of water humor when Chris Hemsworth’s God of Thunder found himself in a remote New Mexico town, but it was mostly serious trying to build this mythological figure and his Asgardian tradition. The following Thor: The Dark World – still the worst MCU movie – took things in an even darker and less fun direction. It didn’t help that Thomas Hiddleston’s Loki, Thor’s half-brother/rival, was allowed to chew up the landscape with trickster charm and wit. While Hemsworth sometimes showed flashes of charisma in the Avengers movies, his Thor always looked like a relatively dark cardboard cutout when placed next to Iron Man or Captain America.

Everything changed when director Taika Waititi took the helm of the third Thor film, in 2017 Thor: Ragnarok. With the help of screenwriters Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher L. Yost, Waititi removed the Norse god’s stoic chains and Hemsworth. The creative team figured out that the best way to maximize Thor as a character (and use Hemsworth’s charm) was to allow him to be an irreverent doofus. Rather than ruminate and grieve over his fate, he laughed at most obstacles in his path. Why worry when you’re one literal God after all? Working from this position means that whenever things don’t come as smoothly as his arrogance suggests, he looks deliciously like a jerk. And “delicious fool” is Hemsworth’s acting wheelhouse.

Ragnarok featured moments of hilarity beyond its titular star, ranging from Loki putting on an Asgardian piece piecing himself together as a hero played by Matt Damon to the drunken neglect of Valkyrie to the physical comedy of Bruce Banner crashing into the Asagrad’s Rainbow Bridge instead of instantly transforming into the Hulk. The film also reveled in the quirks of Korg, the likable arena battle rock-man revolutionary (voiced by Waititi), and drank in a heightened version of Jeff Goldblum’s signature eccentricity as a grandmaster. . In short, Ragnarok had so fun to be silly. Critics and audiences alike ate the new Thor comic, making the film a box office hit, which is almost universally considered one of the MCU’s high points.

All of which brings us to the most anticipated movie on the summer blockbuster calendar, Thor: Love and Thunder (July 8). A lot has happened in the MCU since then. Ragnorak – all Thanos eradicating half the population of the universe before the Avengers save the day – and the new film appears to have Thor trying to find inner peace and his place in the cosmos while avoiding a fight. A cold, combat-unfriendly superhero offers plenty of comedic (and potentially romantic) fertile ground, but the film also plays on writer Jason Aaron’s acclaimed story “The God Butcher” for the Thor: god of thunder comics. That being the case, there could be some serious brutality via villainous Gorr the Butcher God, played by Christian Bale in his post-Batman return to the Caped Crusader Realm. Either way, early trailers show that Waititi (who returns as director and co-writer) will maintain the comedic tone that really unlocked Thor as a character.

The MCU may be loaded with vibranium shields, power suits, infinity gauntlets, and mystical hammers, but the most powerful weapon in its arsenal is still a well-placed joke. ♦