Over sixteen films and Three Phases, Marvel has crafted an elaborate interconnected continuity between their franchises – a feat, which every movie company and wannabe tentpole has tried to recreate to less than stellar results. It’s a careful balancing act, telling a standalone story while also setting up [x]-number of sequels down the line. Tilt too far one way – and then all of a sudden you have a character staring at a computer screen, watching trailers for the next six films. Marvel, in the early days, struggled too with this balance – at times seeming more interested in the story three sequels from now than the actual one being told; yet recently the powers-that-be seem to have found their stride. Spider-Man: Homecoming nicely ties Captain America: Civil War and Tony Stark’s evolving arc into a standalone Spidey film; and Doctor Strange successfully merges an origin tale with an intro to Marvel’s Quantum Realm.
So how will Thor: Ragnarok dovetail into franchises past, present and future?
“I don’t really want to make an episode of some other larger thing,” director Taika Waititi confided in between takes on the set of Thor: Ragnarok. For Waititi, it’s not his job to think about how the third Thor film sets up the next two Avengers films or whatever other Marvel franchises are on the horizon. Per Waititi, “[His] job is just to make a film that can sit as a standalone piece… that if it’s the only Marvel film you see, it’s a great film with a great story in and of itself.”
Yet Waititi was quick to qualify his answer. “The lucky thing is that there’s a bunch of geniuses who run Marvel that make sure, even if it’s a standalone piece, it’s still part of a great big jigsaw puzzle that could be appreciated as a whole as well.”
The events in Thor: Ragnarok do fit into this grand “jigsaw puzzle” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Set a couple years after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the film picks up with Thor continuing his quest to find the Infinity Stones and figure out who’s behind the pending cosmic threat. “What [Thor] realizes really fast is that this one quest, that universe ending peril that he was trying to figure out, branched off into any number of universe ending perils,” stated producer Brad Winderbaum. Thor, during the two-year-hiatus, has become a “lone gunslinger” traveling through the cosmos, solving one universe-ending peril after another.
The events in Thor: Ragnarok roughly take place at the same time as Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming. “Things happen on top of each other now in Phase Three,” Winderbaum added, “They’re not as interlocked as they were in Phase One.”
As for those pesky Infinity Stones… they may not factor in as much as you would think. “We didn’t want to get bogged down in Infinity Stones and da-da-da-da because I don’t even understand that stuff a lot of the time…” Chris Hemsworth laughed, “[But] I spoke to The Russos before I even had the script for this and said, ‘How does [Thor: Ragnarok] link into [Avengers: Infinity War]? What can we look out for? How do we continue this time?’… Without giving anything away though, [Thor: Ragnarok] definitely bleeds nicely into those [films].”