Last year’s Thor: Ragnarok served as a pivotal MCU entry for the God of Thunder for a variety of in-universe reasons, but from the perspective of audiences, Taika Waititi’s film was also important for its rebranding of Chris Hemsworth’s character as a more overtly comedic figure. It’s a change that carries through into the subsequent Avengers: Infinity War, where the pairing of Thor and Rocket was an ongoing source of comic relief, but in the early stages of the ensemble movie’s development, Marvel’s concept artists were unaware of the shake-up that Ragnarok would bring.
In the new artbook Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War – The Art of the Movie, it’s said that Thor’s first designs were created under the assumption that he would remain the brooding, relatively “serious” figure that he was for his first two standalone films, and it was only after work had progressed on the hero’s third flick that the Infinity War team realized they were dealing with a somewhat different Avenger from the one that Age of Ultron left us with.
It’s evident from the long hair seen in various Infinity War concept art that a few ideas were thrown around before the influence of Ragnarok kicked in, with one recently shared design even suggesting that Thor might’ve worn an all-black getup inspired by The Ultimates comic series.
More generally, given the inherently comical nature of the Thor and Rocket pairing, there’s really no telling how Avengers: Infinity War might’ve turned out if Waititi hadn’t given his character the soft reboot treatment. But for many a viewer, the shift in tone was worth it, with Ragnarok often being hailed as the moment where the God of Thunder finally proved that he could hold down his own solo superhero film at least as well as his peers.
Better late than never, and while it’s currently unclear whether Hemsworth will have any future in this franchise beyond the release of Avengers 4 on May 3rd, 2019, you can at least expect that cherished Thor and Rocket team-up to continue for one more movie.