Today, Chris Hemsworth prepares to become a member of a squad even more elite than The Avengers: that of Avengers who have also hosted SNL.
Actually, that group’s about to outnumber Avengers who haven’t dropped by Studio 8H. Only Mark Ruffalo and Chris Evans will be able to count themselves as SNL virgins once tonight’s show has concluded. (Which is kinda nuts, especially for Ruffalo—doesn’t he seem like the type of star who’d excel as host?) Robert Downey, Jr.—the only Avenger who doubles as a former SNL cast member—returned to host in 1996; Scarlett Johansson’s first hosting stint in 2006 went so well that she’s been invited back twice since; Jeremy Renner became the Avenger to host most recently in 2012, with a show that, well… maybe proved why that standalone Hawkeye movie won’t be happening anytime soon. (Samuel L. Jackson has also hosted the show, in 1998—though whether he counts as an Avenger is a matter up for debate.)
So: Will Hemsworth’s maiden voyage on the good ship SNL be as laudable as Johansson’s, as disappointing as Renner’s, or as unmemorable as Downey’s? (No offense to RDJ—but before I mentioned it, did you even remember that he’d hosted the show back in the Tim Meadows era?)
As a perpetual first-time SNL host optimist, I’m leaning toward the former—mostly because Hemsworth isn’t as much of a comedy neophyte as you might assume. The Thor movies are, by their very nature, the closest thing that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to comedy. (They outpace the Iron Man movies because RDJ’s the only funny thing about those.) And Hemsworth himself is largely to thank for why Thors 1 and 2 work as well as they do. As the series’ title character, the Aussie must be both an all-powerful thunder god (in Asgard) and a comically large, comically misplaced fish out of water (on Earth)—and he carries off both roles with aplomb, mostly due to his superhuman charisma and a sense of comic timing that’s sharper than the average action hero beefcake’s. As long as the show plays to his strengths—and doesn’t simply saddle him with a bunch of generic hot guy roles—I think Hemsworth could acquit himself well.
Expect the “generic hot guy” stuff to flow thick and fast, though; I’d estimate Hemsworth will take off his shirt sometime during the monologue, and bare his chest at least one other time during the show. Other predictions: there will be a half-funny, half “too soon” joke about Harrison Ford’s plane crash, some kind of takeoff on Houst of Cards, a Hillary Clinton-focused cold open, and someone doing a passable Loki impression. (My guess: Kyle Mooney.) Oh, and a possible cameo from Liam and/or Luke “The Secret Third Brother” Hemsworth. Oh, and obviously Zac Brown Band making its own country-fried first SNL appearance.
What are you hoping to see from Hemsworth and SNL tonight? Talk amongst yourselves here, and check back in the morning for a full recap.