Thor: Ragnarok is the three-quel to the Thor franchise, which is contained within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As always, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins and Idris Elba return, alongside the MCUs newest additions, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson, Jeff Goldblum and Karl Urban. Mark Ruffalo and Benedict Cumberbatch also features in the film as Hulk and Doctor Strange, respectively.
Banner is such a nerd.
Okay, so let’s get the formalities out of the way. For those that listen to the podcast, you know that I am a HUGE Thor fanboy. I’ve been a fan of his in the comics since I can remember. In saying that, while I haven’t been disappointed in Thor and Thor: The Dark World, I do feel they were missing pieces of what makes Thor a great stand alone character. Thor is a leader, a phenomenal warrior, and tactically smart. However, in the stand-alone films we’ve gotten so far, he’s just the dude with the hammer. In the Avengers movies, he’s been background noise to Captain America and Iron Man. Thor: Ragnarok needed to be his moment to shine, and boy, not only did he shine, but he blinded everyone.
Chris Hemsworth delivers, by far, the best performance yet for Thor Odinson. While historically Thor isn’t very funny in the comics, Hemsworth brings both light and dark tones to the character. It’s almost as if whoever wrote the comedy dialogue for Tony Stark had gotten into the script and helped out, the wit is THAT dry sometimes. In saying how funny Thor is, there are also moments of darkness within the character that Hemsworth also shines a light on, proving that while Thor can be a funny character, he can still be the ass kicking Norse God we know from the books. This that has been sorely lacking in the MCU version of Thor.
Normally, I would name a standout character and praise the unholy shit out of them, however, all the cast are just THAT good, that it’s hard to pick out a specific person as being the best in the film. Tom Hiddleston brings out the duality of good and evil in Loki, like only he can, as we’ve seen in all the Thor films thus far. Anthony Hopkins and Idris Elba were great too. Their roles in the film are a lot smaller than previous, however they do their job in progressing the plot, which is a role they both have undertaken in previous films.
As for the villains, initially, I had some hesitation. Hearing this film would feature six villains (Hela, Skurge, Fenris, Grandmaster, Surtur & Loki), I felt the film would be overstuffed, major plot lines would get derailed to cover everyone, and for that, the villains would not have justice done to them, as these six are some of the best in the Thor mythology. However, I was pleasantly proven wrong, all but the exception of Fenris. We get the motivations for Surtur, Skurge, Hela, Grandmaster and Loki as soon as they appear on screen, and everything within the film plays out naturally. Nothing about these characters feels forced. I feel though, that Fenris was a little underwritten, as he is an awesome character in the books.
What were you the God of again?
Now, as for the additions to the MCU, Cate Blanchett was fantastic as Hela. I honestly couldn’t imagine anyone else for the role. I can’t talk much about her without getting into spoilers, but just know that all of her motivations make sense once you understand who she is. Skurge’s plot line does move along VERY quickly, however it pays off in a big way that seems like a logical step. Karl Urban was also a very good choice for this role. Tessa Thompson, who plays Valkyrie, shows us a VERY different side to the character, however, the backstory changes were fine with me, and as a fan of the Thor books and mythology, there is a cool payoff with her that I squealed at pretty hard. And finally, Jeff Goldblum was basically Jeff Goldblum playing The Collector, even though he is The Grandmaster. He was funny, and fine as the character. Not really much else I can say, other than that he Goldblum’d all over the role.
As for the features, while being advertised VERY heavily, Mark Ruffalo doesn’t actually appear very much in the film. He’s essentially give the “Tony Stark” treatment from Spider-Man: Homecoming, which again, was another fear I had going in. I didn’t want this to be a Thor and Hulk movie, but a Thor movie with Hulk in it. And that’s exactly what we got, and I am fine with it. There is also a very rough emotional scene about half way that those that have seen Age of Ultron will recognize. Definitely pulls at the heart strings. As for Benedict Cumberbatch, his feature in the film is WAY smaller, as he (Note: I don’t consider the following a spoiler, as it’s been fairly common knowledge what his role in the film would be) helps Thor find Odin, who is on Earth.
No Banner, only Hulk.
Another major reservation I had going into the film was around the director, Taika Waititi. His previous work has been mostly low budget comedy films (to which I am a MASSIVE fan of his work), so handing him the reigns of a multi million dollar franchise film, to me, was a huge risk. I was also worried about getting the Norse version of What We Do In the Shadows, in that the film is a laugh riot. I didn’t want that in Ragnarok. Sure, it could have the comedy that we all expect from Hemsworth, but I didn’t want every scene to be funny. And while Ragnarok was funny, Waititi did pull back the comedy on a few scenes to show that while they can have a laugh, these characters are taking this event seriously. Also, Waititi as Korg was somehow the comedic relief of the film. Considering how funny everyone was, he by far got the most laughs in the session I saw.
Overall, the film is definitely the best stand alone Thor film, but comparing it to Thor and Thor: The Dark World is a bit unfair. Those films are VERY underwritten, and don’t do the character justice. Thor: Ragnarok is the first true Thor film in my opinion, and I can see this being the end of the Thor franchise, with Thor being relegated to a character that could show up in other films like Iron Man and Black Widow.