Marvel is having a good year at the box office. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was a grand kick off in May and July saw the return of Spider-Man into the MCU fold. But with tickets to Thor: Ragnarok outpacing the sales of Spider-Man this summer, and this installment having the best reviews of any Marvel movie so far (which is 17, in case you forgot), the inevitable is already starting to be asked: Will Thor 4 happen? With Avengers 4 and the end of Phase III supposedly the "end of Marvel movies" as we know them, will the MCU make an exception, now that they've finally figured out what to do with their most difficult stand alone character?
Of the original characters given stand alone films in Phase I, Thor was the one that never quite clicked, despite getting a sequel. (Hulk, on the other hand, was swept under the rug, to the point of recasting.) Steve Rogers and Tony Stark were, in the end, human, despite their circumstances. They were from Earth. Thor, on the other hand, was a god from a far off world, and a stick in the mud to boot. It's no wonder fans preferred Loki instead.
But director Taika Waititi seems to have cracked the "Thor" code, finally, and it's by leaning into the absurdity of the situation, and embracing the out there of space to go with it, which so far only Guardians had dared to do. Combine that with Chris Hemsworth's amazing comedic chops, and you've got a movie certified 96 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, beating the original 2008 Iron Man by 2 points.
Asked if he would consider a Thor 4, Waititi seemed pleased as punch at the idea.
All the characters from Thor are still played by the same actors, and the action picks up with all the plot points from the end of Thor 2 still in place. (Loki, for instance, is still masquerading as Odin back in Asgard.) But reviews are treating this new visual and comedic direction of the series as a re-imagining of what this series could be.
And that might be enough for the MCU to decide to carry the Thor series at least one more movie into Phase IV. The drive to "end the MCU" with Avengers 4: Whatever Comes After Infinity comes from the sense the more successful standalone films of the series are running out of gas. Robert Downey Jr. is visibly tired of Stark. Chris Evans has been chafing at his Captain America bonds sinceWinter Soldier. And the Avengers movies are reaching, if not already passing, the superhero saturation point.
But in a franchise universe where known quantities will guarantee butts in seats, especially in a year where the box office receipts are down, any viable babies will not be tossed out with bathwater. If that causes the Thor series to wind up as two sets of two (Thor + Thor 2 and Thor: Ragnarok + Thor: Ragnarok 2) instead of a trilogy, I'm sure the MCU will smoothly change the marketing strategy and keep this pony running.
Thor: Ragnarok is playing in theaters everywhere starting Friday Nov 3, 2017.