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The most successful franchise in film history has a problem – and it looks a lot like Taika Waititi.

That Thor The series was one of the less well-received strands of the $25 billion Marvel Cinematic Universe overall.

The first two films in the series were financially successful but are unlikely to be remembered as favorites.

Third movies in a row are rarely the best and for gate 3Her fans expected the worst, but multi-award-winning Kiwi director Waititi has completely reinvigorated the series.

He discarded and made Marvel’s standard “action with a few one-liners” template Thor: Ragnarok a full fledged action comedy.

Thor: Love and Thunder
Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)
Marvel Studios

Realizing that star Chris Hemsworth not only has arms as big as legs but is also a gifted comedian, Waititi brilliantly mined the Australian’s superpower in the apocalyptic showdown with Cate Blanchett’s Hela.

So it was logical to bring back the same creative team for an unprecedented (in MCU terms) fourth solo film.

After all, Ragnarok was critically well received and made a viking longboat full of money. In addition, everyone involved had a lot of fun. What could go wrong?

What could go wrong was that everyone could have a lot more fun.

Even Waititi’s greatest admirers would concede that consistency of tone is not his forte.

Many of his other works such as Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Jojo rabbit fluctuate dramatically between tears and laughter, often within a single scene.

In a series that needs a renewed sense of direction and clarity, Waititi delivered none Thor: Love and Thunder.

Encouraged by the success of his first Thor In the film, he strayed even further from the Marvel template, seemingly throwing in any wild ideas that came to mind.

As a result, Christian Bale’s villain, Gorr the God Butcher, strays from a truly evil presence Chitty Chitty Bang Bang‘s Child Catcher and back again. Countless subplots are picked up and seemingly discarded, and the (mythologically correct but narratively superfluous) screaming goats don’t help.

Perhaps best of all, the exuberant New Zealander doesn’t like long-form films: “I watch director’s cuts from a lot of other directors. They suck,” he said recently.

He’s also poked fun at his own film for its fake-looking CGI, something several fans took up and took less than positively, while a visual effects artist broke cover to call Marvel “terrible.”

But there’s a bigger problem facing the most successful franchise in film history.

The first three “phases” of the MCU nested multiple trilogies into a meta-narrative held together by Robert Downey Jr.’s growth of Tony Stark from selfish arms dealer to superhero and ultimately savior of the universe.

But now RDJ is gone along with fellow MCU lynchpins Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson, and the impact of Marvel’s Phase Four has been diluted by audiences’ growing need to be familiar with Disney’s streaming shows to get the full picture .

None of the films in Phase Four delivered that sense of connection and forward motion that has kept MCU fans coming back for more.

In a cinematic universe that’s increasingly fragmented, a return to the relatively down-to-earth tone of the first is needed right now iron man and Captain America movies. And that’s really not Waititi’s style.

Hemsworth has said he’d play Thor forever if fans wanted to, and Waititi is reportedly happy to return to Asgard while Hemsworth is on board.

I’m sure they would have a lot of fun crafting gate 5. But as the start of Marvel’s Phase 5 beckons, the MCU needs to get back to basics.

And while Waititi is currently Hollywood’s golden boy, he’s promising war of stars as well as MCU properties, it is anything but simple.

Michael Moran has written extensively on films, and superhero films in particular, for many national titles. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

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