Thor: Ragnarok might be the strangest Marvel movie in their entire MCU world. It feels a lot like Guardians of the Galaxy except even stranger and really does a lot to elevate the character of Thor – someone who before this was one of the least interesting characters in the entire MCU.
If there was one complaint about the first two Thor movies it was that Thor was never the best character in his own movies and his brother Loki – the villain in one and the antagonistic sidekick in the second – always overshadowed his heroic Avenger brother.
While Loki is still a great deal of fun in Thor: Ragnarok, new director Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople) did a lot to make Thor just as fun this time around. What resulted was a movie that was high on action, had more comedy than almost any MCU movie and left viewers with smiles on their faces even with a story that didn’t always measure up.
Thor has been gone since Avengers: Age of Ultron and this movie explains where he has been. Thor was looking for the infinity gems (he didn’t find any) but he did learn that Ragnarok was coming and he set out to defeat Surtur (Clancy Brown) to stop it.
See, in Norse mythology, Ragnarok is the end of days – the Norse version of the Bible’s Book of Revelations. At Ragnarok, all the Norse Gods die at the hands of their enemies and Ragnarok ends the era of the Gods. In its place, a new land grows without Gods and starts to prosper as the time of humans lives on in their place.
Of course, Thor doesn’t want to die and he wants to save Asgard, so he takes on Surtur to stop it. However, when he returns to Asgard, he learns what we all learned in the post-credit sequence in Thor 2 – Odin is gone and Loki is impersonating him and leading Asgard.
After Thor calls out his brother, heads for a meeting on Earth with a special guest star from the MCU, and then the two finally find Odin, things get really dark.
Odin had a daughter before Thor was born and that daughter was Hela, the Goddess of Death. She returns and sets her sights on ruling Asgard – or destroying it if the people resist. Heimdall has gone into hiding after Loki as Odin called him a traitor to Asgard and Thor finds he has to save Asgard from his sister.
The problem is that Hela is stronger than Thor and the movie takes a huge detour before Thor can actually battle his sister. Thor and Loki end up transported to another world called Sakarr and suddenly the movie changes from a Thor movie into an adaptation of the comic book Planet Hulk.
This is where everything goes off the rails. Thor and Loki find Hulk is also on this planet, competing in a forced gladiator battle for a being known as The Grandmaster. There is also a former Asgardian there from the legendary Valkyrie – female protectors of Asgard.
So, with all that said, Thor has to escape from The Grandmaster, convince Hulk and Valkyrie to join him and return to Asgard, and try to defeat his ultra-powerful sister Hela – despite her already destroying Mjolnir.
That is a lot packed into one movie but unlike Batman V Superman, this works great and never feels overloaded or patched together. A lot of that has to do with the comedy scenes spread throughout, which gives fans a chance to smile, laugh and breathe a little in between intense scenes.
Chris Hemsworth is masterful here portraying Thor. He is very funny at times and shows great range at his vulnerability when he starts to feel like hope is lost. Honestly, Hemsworth is a huge star and this is the first time in the MCU that he gets a chance to show how great he really is.
As always Tom Hiddleston is magnificent as Loki and Mark Ruffalo is still fun as Bruce Banner and Hulk. The final member of the heroes in this movie is Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson. She brings a lot to the character, who is one of the most interesting female characters in the MCU, a drunk warrior who can hold her own but is far from boring and perfect (like a Black Widow).
A special place on the pendulum goes to Cate Blanchett as Hela. She is so amazing as the first major female villain in the MCU. Honestly, she is better than almost all the male villains and just steals every scene she appears in. The biggest problem with all Marvel movies is a lame bad guy and Thor: Ragnarok rides high above the rest (outside of Loki in Avengers).
I have heard some criticize the humor – especially the timing of some of the jokes. I didn’t have a problem with it at all as I felt that it really helped to lighten the mood during the movie and gave it a fun pace that really made me smile throughout.
At the end of the day, Thor: Ragnarok is easily the best Thor movie and stands as one of the upper echelon of Marvel movies in the MCU. It seems like Marvel is just having fun now, and even with a situation as serious as Ragnarok, Marvel knows how to make sure fans leave with a smile on their face.