No doubt seeing the box-office love Guardians of the Galaxy 2 brought, Marvel has made an ambitious shift for the final installment of the Thor trilogy. By far the most comedic of the three films, Thor: Ragnarok brings light-hearted laughs to a dark film about the destruction of the world but falls short by making it seemed forced and unnatural. Speaking of forced and unnatural, there is a whole secondary plotline involving the Hulk and Thor that proves purposeful but out of place. While Thor: Ragnarok is sure to capture the hearts of most audience members, there are those that will see through some of Chris Hemsworth’s attempts at a humanized charm and realize that a substantial portion of the funny one-liners were shown in the trailer.
Now if you don’t know anything about Norse Mythology, Ragnarok is supposed to be a battle to end all battles, culminating in the destruction of the 9 realms, including both Asgard and Earth (or Midgard). While the trailer depicts the film as an 80’s nostalgic comedy, it does have more depth and darker elements do come into play when the events of Ragnarok are set in motion by the death of Odin. The heir to the throne turns out to not be Thor but Hela (Cate Blanchett), Odin’s first born and the goddess of Death, who has returned to Asgard to rightfully reclaim her throne and spread death, destruction, and mayhem throughout the universe. In the first battle for the throne, Thor’s attempt to match Hela is thwarted and he ends up on the scrap planet, Sakaar ruled by Jeff Goldblum, fighting for his freedom against the reigning champion, The Hulk. Here is where we meet Valkyrie, one of Odin’s fiercest warriors who runs from her past and lands at the bottom of a liquor bottle, portrayed by Tessa Thompson. After teaming up with the two of them and his brother Loki, who despite all of his shortcomings can see how crazy his sister Hela is, Thor cleverly dubs their group “The Revengers” and realizes the true extent of his powers so he returns to Asgard, intent on stopping Ragnarok and Hela before it’s too late.
New Zealand director Taika Waititi is behind the wheel of the newest Marvel flick and while his comedic timing lands perfectly with secondary (or even third) level characters, it leaves something to be desired in the chemistry between the two leading males – Thor and Loki. In previous Thor films and in The Avengers, both characters have had a quick-witted back and forth that realistically portrayed the struggles of brotherly affection…when one of them wasn’t trying to actually kill the other. In Ragnarok, the attempts and comedic one-liners and the move toward a more loving bond feel uncooperative and out of place at times. At best, the script plays to the strengths of the amazing and diverse cast; Film School Rejects said it best with “It knows how to let Hemsworth be fun, how to lean into Thompson’s general badassery, and how to make Goldblum… well, his absolute Goldblum-est.”
Unsure as to whether Thor: Ragnarok truly gives closure to the franchise, the movie is a strong standalone comedy with a stellar cast. However, with competing narratives the movie feels more like a Thor/Hulk spin-off from the Avengers series than it does the culmination of the Thor trilogy. I guess as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to grow, audiences will have to accept and come to expect a lot more crossover storylines. Overall, while I think it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, I think that most audiences will enjoy the film’s trek across the realms and will be excited to see how additional characters fit into the MCU moving forward.