I like it, I love it, I want some more of it. So why does this short bit with zero special effects work so well?
Let’s take it apart.
Comedy is incredibly hard. Even the pro’s at Saturday Night Live fail more often than succeed. The tough part of a short skit like this is variety.
Saturday Night Live and other skit shows tend to find one joke that does work, then beat it to death, making a five-minute skit feel like five hours.
The other path–multiple jokes that may or may not work–is much harder to pull off.
You won’t know if it works while writing or rehearsing it, and unless you film in front of a live audience, you won’t get feedback until you put that short film out there for the world to embrace or trash.
This bit about Thor works because they don’t rely on a single, repetitive joke. They had the guts to try a ton of different jokes, big or small, and to include little details that reward multiple viewings.
I lost it when Thor showed off his wall of clues about the Infinity Stones, especially the crayon drawings of his hammer holding him and the purple man with a glove who doesn’t like standing up. Beautiful.
Thor not having a phone, and asking Tony Stark to “send a raven”–instant classic, along with putting his hammer to bed with a blanket and pillow.
What makes this truly work, though, is the actor playing Darryl the roommate.
The whole skit would die a thousand deaths if Darryl was a fan-boy in any way. Instead, he’s clearly annoyed by his super-hero friend, and we don’t get that through on-the-nose dialogue. It’s all body language and subtext.
This is why Marvel is winning the box office war with D.C., despite D.C. having the equivalent of a nuclear bomb with inherently better superheroes in its stable. If you start out with Batman, Superman, Catwoman, the Joker and Wonderwoman, while the other side has Thor, Antman, Vision and Robert Downey, Jr.
I mean, come on. Team Batman should be kicking the tail out of Antman and friends. If you’re waging a box office war, the side with the better weapons should be cleaning house. But they’re not.
Marvel isn’t afraid of making fun of itself, or making sure their movies have genuine joy instead of perpetual grimness.
If they turned this short about Thor and Darryl into a sitcom, people would watch the hell out of it.
Well played, Marvel, well played. Give us more.