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Sometimes even superheroes need makeovers. And let’s face it: Thor’s hair was always a little too Nelson-circa-1990. So in Thor: Ragnarok, out Nov. 3, audiences will see the Norse god get his signature blond locks shorn. “It was nice not to have to sit in the makeup chair for that hour each morning,” Chris Hemsworth says. “It felt like a rebirth for me as the actor but also as the character.”
Marvel’s third solo outing for Thor is a fresh start in more than just follicular ways. “I have a belief that if you’re lucky enough to get to part 3 of a franchise, it is your obligation not to fall to threequel-itis,” says Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. The latest entry finds Thor battling not only the Goddess of Death, Hela (Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett), but also his frenemy the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) when the pair find themselves on a desolate planet called Sakaar.
When Hela is accidentally unleashed from her prison, she is not psyched. “She’s been locked away for millennia getting more and more cross, and then, with a mistake, she gets unleashed and she ain’t getting back in that box,” says Blanchett, who worked with legendary stuntwoman Zoë Bell (Grindhouse) and learned the Brazilian martial art capoeira to prep for the role. Her attack on Thor sends him to Sakaar where he is forced to become a gladiator and realizes he’s no longer super special. “[Sakaar is] basically where every wormhole across the universe dumps out its trash, so you get people from all walks of life with all sorts of incredible abilities and powers,” Hemsworth explains. “No one cares what prince or king Thor may have been in another world. Also, his strength is pretty easily matched with those he finds himself amongst.” Case in point: Sakaar’s most successful (and popular) fighter is The Hulk.
Still, despite a title that references an end-of-days-type battle in Norse mythology, Ragnarok marks a decidedly more comedic installment for the series, thanks in large part to director Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows). “Taika has such a quirky, left-of-field sense of humor, which forced all the characters and the tone of the whole story to head in a new direction,” says Hemsworth. “Each day we were like, ‘Are we pushing it too far? Are we allowed to have this much fun?’”
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Now the Ragnarok team just has to see if the Marvel audience is open to such a recalibration. “I think sometimes people mistake a tonal shift as ‘We’re just going to make some ridiculous broad comedy where no one gives a s— what happens and everyone gets stoned and sits around talking about saving the universe,’ ” Waititi says. “We want people to care what happens and care that the hero succeeds. I think tonally it’s like a slight shift. I don’t feel nervous — I feel good about it.”