Marvel’s intergalactic “Thor: Ragnarok” looks a lot like “Guardians of the Galaxy”

“He’s a friend from work!”
“He’s a friend from work!”
Image: Disney/YouTube screenshot
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Marvel has found a formula for success, and it’s not going to stray from it. The Disney-owned comic book studio released the first trailer for its upcoming Thor sequel yesterday, and it looks like an amusing, visually resplendent jaunt around alien worlds—you know, exactly like Guardians of the Galaxy.

It’s a shrewd marketing move to borrow the offbeat approach that helped Guardians to an $800 million box office and a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And for Thor: Ragnarok, the third Marvel film to center on the Norse God, the new tone makes perfect sense. The most compelling part of the Thor cinematic universe has always been, literally, its universe—the stunning collection of alien worlds and species that sets the character apart from his Earthbound superhero counterparts.

The trailer begins with a moment straight out of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, as Thor swings haplessly from a chain, looks into the camera, and says, “Now I know what you’re thinking. ‘How did this happen?'” From there, as Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” takes over, it’s clear Marvel is giving us a different kind of superhero movie.

Or, at least, different from all its other properties other than Guardians of the Galaxy.

Marvel has been criticized by some for turning its blockbuster cinematic universe into a conveyor belt of clichéd films with similar narratives and visuals. (Its recent collaborations with 21st Century Fox, however, have ventured far outside the formula.) That’s not to say the films aren’t entertaining, or even good—they’ve simply grown homogenous.

In 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy was arguably the first Disney-distributed Marvel film to break the mold, with its killer 1970s soundtrack, kooky sense of humor, and rich color palette. Perhaps because it introduced a new set of characters (instead of continuing the story of the Avengers), Guardians was unlike any Marvel film that came before.

Now that its new formula proved successful, expect more Marvel properties to feel similar—starting with Thor: Ragnarok.