The Thor: Love And Thunder Trailer Looks Like Marvel Once Again Unleashed Taika Waititi

After much finger-drumming, the teaser trailer for "Thor: Love and Thunder" has finally arrived. Most exciting of all, it appears that Marvel has once again stepped back and allowed Taika Waititi to do his thing, perhaps even more than it did with "Thor: Ragnarok."

The Marvel Cinematic Universe's God of Thunder has undergone quite the dramatic evolution since debuting in 2011. At first, Marvel tried to ground Thor the way it had with Iron Man and Hulk, refusing to refer to him as a "god," and insisting that he and his fellow Asgardians were merely aliens powered by advanced science, not magic. The result was Kenneth Branagh's "Thor," a movie that plays out like a cross between a grandiloquent familial drama and a broad fish-out-of-water comedy. But where Branagh was able to keep a decent balance between those tonal extremes (his excessive use of dutch camera angles aside), 2013's "Thor: The Dark World" didn't fare so well. As I can attest from a recent revisit, "The Dark World" is either too portentous or too silly depending on the moment, and Thor himself barely has an arc, in spite of what its final scene would have you believe.

On the plus side, this paved the way to Waititi re-inventing the property with 2017's "Ragnarok." A movie that swaps out the self-serious vibe of the first two "Thor" films for a rip-roaring fantasy-action-comedy, "Ragnarok" very much brings to mind the storyteller's low-budget New Zealand efforts like "What We Do in the Shadows" and especially the fantastic "Hunt for the Wilderpeople." If anything, though, "Love and Thunder" looks to take things even further in that direction than "Ragnarok" did.

But first, a caveat

"Love and Thunder" finds Thor (Chris Hemsworth) on a search to find inner peace, which itself reads as a natural carryover of the journey he began in "Ragnarok." Far from ignoring what happened to him in "Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame," the film's teaser shows him traveling with the Guardians of the Galaxy before parting ways, reasoning that his superhero days are behind him and it's time for him to find a new purpose. This, I'm sorry to say, also means we get shots of Thor training to lose the weight he put during "Endgame," conflating the idea of Thor being physically leaner with the idea of him being mentally healthier. 

Now, admittedly, the question of whether "Endgame" fat-shames Thor is a dicey one, least of all before you factor in the choice to have Hemsworth wear a fat suit for the film (a decision that itself brings up a whole other issue). The hope, then, was that Marvel and Waititi would resist the urge to quickly restore Thor to his initial MCU physique in "Love and Thunder," giving us the beefy, emotionally happy superhero we deserve for at least some meaningful portion of the movie. Frustratingly, however, it seems we'll be getting a montage of Thor working out fairly early on in the film.

What's frustrating is that Waititi previously gave us a great plus-size hero in the shape of Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) from "Hunt for the Wilderpeople," a film about a character whose physique remains unchanged even as they heal and develop emotionally over the course of their wild adventure. That is to say, for all the leeway Waititi has clearly been afforded in "Love and Thunder," it would appear that body positivity is still a rainbow bridge too far for the MCU's "Thor" movies.

Moving on...

Thankfully, Marvel seems to have no such qualms about Waititi throwing whatever outlandish fantasy elements he wants at the screen in "Love and Thunder." Russell Crowe as Zeus, the king of the Olympians? Sure thing! Thor riding across the cosmos on a boat pulled by a pair of magical goats (yes, they're canon to Marvel's comic books)? Sounds good! Human scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) wielding a restored version of Mjolnir as the Mighty Thor? That one, in particular, comes directly from Jason Aaron's run on the "Mighty Thor" comic books, but I have faith that Waititi and the movie's co-writer, Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, will make it very much their own.

Robinson, for those who don't know the name, is the mind behind the critically-acclaimed vigilante series "Sweet/Vicious" and rom-com-drama "Someone Great," both of which are subversive takes on their respective genres. Her involvement bode wells for "Love and Thunder" when it comes to returning characters like Jane and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), the latter of whom is shown rocking a snazzy suit as the King of New Asgard in the film's teaser. Is this an early hint that Robinson and Waititi will give the character the queer romance she rightly deserves? We're coming off the first same-sex kiss in an MCU movie with "Eternals," and Waititi himself only just played an explicitly queer pirate, so there's reason to stay hopeful on that front.

And let's not forget the visuals! The "Love and Thunder" trailer begins with a stunning montage of the God of Thunder running in a sun-lit forest at different ages before moving onto arresting visuals of Thor meditating beneath a twilight sky and visiting all manner of radiant alien worlds, some of them pulled right out of Aaron's comics. Waititi reunited with cinematographer Barry Baz Idoine, who worked with him on "The Mandalorian," and even filmed part of "Love and Thunder" on a newly-built ILM StageCraft volume in Australia. For the fruits of their labors, the pair have now delivered one of the most visually-spectacular MCU movie trailers to date.

Will "Thor: Love and Thunder" itself live up to the early hype and give us the unfiltered Taika Waititi tentpole we're hoping for? All will be revealed when the film reaches theaters on July 8, 2022.