Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok has crushed its box office competitors and taken $121m in its US opening weekend.
The third installment outperformed both the first and second films; Thor’s 2011 original debut took $65.7m, while Thor: The Dark World opened to sales of $85.7m. Ragnarok, Marvel’s seventeenth film, continues the impressive success streak for the comic book company and leaves many movie buffs and critics wondering: how does Marvel keep finding ways to top their previous work?
Here are some lessons from Marvel’s strategy in reenergizing a done-before idea.
- Know what works (and what doesn’t).
Few fans and critics were asking for yet another installment of the superhero series, but instead of capping the success at two, Marvel’s movie chief Kevin Feige decided to rebrand the series for the purpose of a third movie. With the hiring of new director Taika Waititi, the film explored a risky approach that turned into a rewarding success: comedy. Drawing inspiration from successful band-of-misfit-superhero movies like Guardians of the Galaxy, Feige and Waititi knew Thor needed to tone down its previous serious tone and play up the comedic attributes of its characters.
- Value and listen to your team.
Thor himself, played by Chris Hemsworth, contributed creative input for Thor’s third film. After admitting he was “frustrated” and “bored” with the role, Feige listened to the actor’s concerns and eventually implemented them. Hemsworth remembers saying “it has to be funnier; it has to be unpredictable.” While other factors undoubtedly went into the decision-making process, Hemsworth’s input may have been what pushed Feige to begin working with comedic and eccentric, Waititi.
- Don’t be afraid to stray from tradition.
Even if you’ve never seen a Marvel movie before, you probably know that a large part of their success strategy is attributed to the intersection of superheroes’ universes and storylines. Thor has been left out of the superhero world of connectivity, until Ragnarok and is now joined by the Hulk. Although the decision to follow in the Marvel’s traditional practice stems from certain rights issue that doesn’t allow for a stand-alone Hulk movie, adding the character to a highly anticipated movie helped in gaining the attention and loyalty of fans of the large green superhero. Without intertwining characters for the sake of it and staying true to its past standalone films, Ragnarok was able to welcome a new audience to its film.
Marvel, a truly iconic company and brand, owes their continued success to their unfaltering but constantly evolving brand strategy. Evaluating their own work, trusting their peers, and challenging traditions is why Thor’s third installment, Ragnarok, is even more successful than its original.
Cara Vedral is a senior advertising student at Temple University and marketing associate at Flackable, a national public relations and digital marketing agency. Follow Cara on Twitter. Connect with Cara on LinkedIn.