Of the big three who founded the Avengers, no one would have expected Thor to be the last one standing. Iron Man launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier is considered by many to be one of the best in the franchise. But while Thor and Thor: The Dark World both have their fans, neither seemed to have quite the same cultural impact as the movies starring Tony Stark or Steve Rogers. As we head toward the close of the MCU’s phase four, Tony and Steve are long gone, and Thor is about the star in his fourth solo film.
To be sure, part of the thunder god’s longevity can be attributed to the character’s reinvention in Thor: Ragnarok, in which director Taika Waititi took advantage of the comedy chops star Chris Hemsworth revealed in Ghostbusters to create a goofy cosmic adventure. But even as fans have high hopes for Hemsworth and Waititi’s reteaming in Thor: Love and Thunder, the Australian star knows that he can’t continue to wield Mjolnir forever. Speaking with GamesRadar, Hemsworth admitted, “I’d like to exit before people tell me to exit.”
Although he says it with a laugh, Hemsworth’s concerns have validity. Love and Thunder will be Hemsworth’s eighth big-screen appearance in the role, and despite critically praised work in films such as Cabin in the Woods and Bad Times at the El Royale, he’s easily most well-known as Thor. With every opportunity he has to play Thor, Hemsworth asks himself, “Is this script different to the last one? Are we repeating something?” Should the character ever become “too familiar,” Hemsworth said, then it will be time to move on.
Fortunately, the actor doesn’t yet look forward to that moment. “Each time, if the opportunity comes up and presents itself, I’m just open to whatever creative exploration can happen, thanks to different writers and directors and so on,” he explained, affirming his love for the character. That’s a feeling shared by MCU boss Kevin Feige, who looks forward to the many Thor stories left to tell. “I know this,” Feige told GamesRadar; “there are many, many other Thor stories in the comics that we talk about a lot.”
That is an understatement. One of the first characters in the Marvel Universe, Thor made his comic book debut in 1962’s Journey Into Mystery #83. In the 60 years that followed, Thor has appeared in hundreds of stories, made by some of the medium’s greatest creators, including Jack Kirby and Walt Simonson. Even three movies in, the series has only scratched the surface of Thor’s rich supporting cast, leaving fans hungry for Beta Ray Bill, Hercules, and Thunderstrike, among others.
For Fiege, these untapped stories will help keep Hemsworth around. “[A]s we watch Chris Hemsworth continue to grow and evolve as a major acting talent, I would be excited to see how he keeps evolving this complex character.” With still more stories to tell and more challenges to take on, Hemsworth’s exit will hopefully be a long way off.