The God of Thunder reigns supreme in his third solo film, but instead of portraying the formulaic superhero flick that Marvel has become infamous for, Ragnarok breaks new ground as a stellar intergalactic film packed to the brim with laughter.
Commonly known as the most lukewarm hero of the bunch according to several film critic sites such as Rotten Tomatoes, the Thor franchise shocked viewers in this new addition with its well-timed jokes and light-hearted fun with a pinch of the typical superhero action to pack a punch. Director Taika Waititi (known for “Boy” and “What We Do in the Shadows”) was clearly adamant to break the seemingly endless stereotype that comes with a new Marvel film and, as promised, he delivered an astounding ride of excitement from the moment the film begins. Complete with an absolutely outstanding cast and beautiful set designs, the enjoyable nature of Ragnarok stems from the fact that it feels less like a generic superhero film and more like a monstrous, extensive science-fiction movie.
Thor: Ragnarok picks up right after Thor: The Dark World. Once Odin disappears, Hela, Odin’s first born and goddess of death, returns to claim her throne and seize control over all realms. Thor, trapped on the alien planet Sakaar, must find his way back to Asgard and stop the destruction of his home in the form of Ragnarok.
A common criticism of Thor and Marvel films in general, according to sites such as Plugged In, is the fact that the same formula is carried out in every film; in that, superhero has a tragic accident and he’s also a jerk, but in the end, he overcomes the ‘curse’ that is his powers and learns to be less of a jerk. By no means does Ragnarok completely break free of these signifying traits, but it does a good job at making itself distinct enough that audiences will finally give Thor the respect he deserves.
Instead of being bogged down on Earth, like the previous two films, the writers make the brilliant move to set Thor up against ferocious aliens and an Incredible Hulk on an entirely different planet. This gave writers the chance to branch out from the usual roles given to Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) characters and focus on the humanity of gods: the raw emotions of a Valkyrie and a not-so- frightening fire giant. This a true sci-fi film that can stand on its own without being tied down by the franchise’s previous entries.
This film’s also sporting possibly the best female cast that the MCU has yet to offer with only two female leads. Tessa Thompson does a phenomenal job at portraying Valkyrie and is arguably the best MCU character to date, closely followed by Cate Blanchett as the chaotic and truly terrifying Hela. Both women carry the film, and I’m confident in saying that without their humor and general toughness, the movie would have most likely fallen flat.
Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Tom Hiddleston as Loki make for a hilariously fantastic duo, as usual, and adding Mark Ruffalo as Hulk and Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster makes for incredibly clever, fast-paced humor that sticks unlike any other Marvel film.
The set designs and CGI were nothing short of magnificent. In my opinion, the prettiest of all Marvel movies, Ragnarok features a psychedelic wasteland and a glorious haven for gods, both fit with intricate moving parts that’ll make you feel the amount of whimsy that was put into crafting these areas.
As for Waititi’s plan to make Ragnarok more light-hearted than other Marvel films, he definitely succeeds, as there are several moments where cheeky banter between two characters bring levity to an otherwise bleak situation. However, only so many times can a monstrous pile of rocks make a quick one-liner in the middle of battling gods before the joke becomes stale and overused.
As for Hela, she has a grand introduction that brings actual terror and fear that Thor may not be able to defeat her, considering she is basically a personification of death, but once she’s settled into her role as a villain, she doesn’t actually do much. Sure, she kills and conquers, but Hela almost serves as a secondary threat to Thor as he fights to stay alive on Sakaar. It isn’t until very late into the story that Hela becomes a clear threat to our hero and his home world.
Overall, Ragnarok isn’t my favorite Marvel movie, but it definitely stands out amongst the now-oversaturated genre that Marvel has almost solely created by making the story its own and bringing levity to a world of gritty, serious superheroes. This film also serves a great bridge to Avengers: Infinity War that will usher in the beginning of Marvel’s third phase of the MCU films and will surely bring more experimental works such as this.
See Thor: Ragnarok, available in theaters now.