Taika Waititi’s movies in the Thor franchise have taken a decidedly ’80s approach. There’s an emphasis on neon coloring, a sense of humor akin to many action comedies from the era, and the new trailer, released Thursday, is even set to the 1987 Guns ‘N Roses classic “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”
There’s a different ’80s-inspired part of the trailer that caught my attention, though: Chris Hemsworth’s pretending to do the splits. Clearly influenced by Jean Claude Van Damme’s incredible exploits, we see Thor jumping up in the air to intercept two speeding vehicles heading towards him, holding them in place with just the power of his legs.
Image: Warner Bros. and Image: Disney
Here’s the thing, though: Van Damme actually did the splits in his movies, and this is pretty clearly a stitched together CG effect, a tactic Marvel productions rely on heavily. The homage is nice, but it lacks the beauty and truth of the original.
Van Damme is one of the great performers of his generation at using his body in exciting and enthralling ways, and it feels like a missed opportunity to recreate some of that magic, if the reference is what they were going for.
We’ve talked about Van Damme’s fun time Lionheart is in our list of the best martial arts movies you can watch at home, and a scarier Van Damme in Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning on our list of the best thrillers you can watch at home. Bloodsport, featured in the image above, is an all-time classic that you can watch for free with ads on Tubi or Pluto TV, and Sudden Death is a zany, silly time where Van Damme fights the mascot of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
This is my personal plea to Disney: Chris Hemsworth should actually learn how to do the splits! If you want to bring back that ’80s action star energy, bring it all the way back.