Thor and Wolverine: Peas in a Pod?

It feels like just yesterday that I was writing about the upcoming Wolverine and Thor movies, but apparently it was years ago!  And here I am once again: this week, the Internet has been alive with dueling trailers.  That’s not even counting Iron Man 3, which has actually somewhat snuck up on me; I tend to follow movies more in preproduction/filming stage and forget once they’re in post, and I ditched cable years ago so I’m not inundated with commercials. It’s a pleasant surprise.

I’d have to be living under a rock to not be aware of these trailers, though.  The trailer for The Wolverine has been knocking around for a bit, but the latest iteration is for Japanese audiences.  And there have been stills from Thor: The Dark World floating around for the last week, but to my knowledge this trailer has the first shot of Loki we’ve seen so far (though, again, I haven’t been following every scrap of information).

It’s interesting that the two movies are being promoted and released along somewhat parallel tracks, because they’ve got more in common than you’d think at first glance.

Something to Prove

Wolverine: Origins was not the hit everyone thought it’d be, and it was a follow-up to the extremely lackluster X-Men: The Last Stand.  Until X-Men: First Class came along and reinvigorated the franchise, many were thinking its time had passed.

Most this was not the fault of Hugh Jackman; he’s still a fan favorite, as evidenced by reaction to his cameo in First Class.  I don’t think anyone doubts that he’s got the chops for another Wolverine movie; it’s finding the team that can make it a good one that’s the problem.  And this film has been handed off time and again like a game of hot potato.  Will it prove that it can hold its own and stay relevant, or will it be a throwback to the last decade of superhero movies?

Thor wasn’t a flop, but it wasn’t as well-received as, say, the Iron Man movies.  I’d say the movie has remained popular for two main reasons: the inexorable growth of the Tom Hiddleston/Loki fanbase and the fantastic writing of The Avengers.  Ask someone if they’d like to see another Thor movie and they’ll likely say yes; but how much are they thinking of the actual original film, and how much are they thinking of The Avengers?

And let’s not forget Jane will be a main focus of this one.  I like Natalie Portman as an actress in general, but I didn’t particularly miss her in The Avengers, and  I think that the movie Thor didn’t really need the standard love subplot.  Like The Wolverine, Thor: The Dark World has the talent required and even a few characters we’ve come to love; it’ll be up to the writers and director to give us a good story from all that potential, and live up to the popularity and quality of Iron Man and The Avengers. 

For the Ladies

So I know I’m not the only girl who raised her eyebrows at Wolverine in the kitchen in X-2.  However, it wasn’t until Thor that I really started to see discussion about the female gaze in that film (seriously, thank you, Kenneth Branagh).  Add up the gratuitous men-in-tight-shirts shots with the aforementioned Hiddleston-mania (of which I’m somewhat strangely immune, thus far) and you get a fair amount of women who might want to see the upcoming film in addition to all the women who would already see it due to the content (female gaze moments are a bonus, though).  In some media circles, Thor is pretty much known for just that one shot and doubtless people will be curious to see what’ll happen this time.  And The Wolverine might decide to follow suit, since Jackman’s gone to all that trouble to drink those shakes and lift those weights and all.

This does worry me slightly though.  In discussions of female gaze vs male gaze, someone inevitably says, “What, female gaze? You mean like romantic comedies?” which, no, most of the time that’s not what we mean.  I wouldn’t want any movie franchise, basking in the glow of additional female attention, to resort to pandering – and hearing some details about the plot of Thor: The Dark World makes me nervous.

As for The Wolverine, well, no one has any clue where this film has wound up.  I want them to focus on making a good film, and I feel like the production process has been so muddled that I’m afraid of any new elements, honestly.

To-Do List

Despite any reservations or concerns I may have about the films, let’s not kid ourselves: I completely intend to see both films as soon as I can.  The good, when it’s good, all but obliterates the bad.  X-2 remains one of my favorites, and First Class has given me renewed hope.  The Thor films have not only a compelling lead, but the most interesting ongoing “villain” of possibly any of the superhero films right now (Okay, Magneto, but it’s a stretch to call him “villain” especially in the new films).  They’ve more than earned the benefit of the doubt, in my eyes; here’s hoping 2013 will be a good year for Marvel men.

What about you?  What do you think of the new trailers? Are you looking forward to the return of Thor, Wolverine, neither, or both? 

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