The previous Thor films in the MCU have never exactly been seen as Marvel’s best efforts. They’re fairly entertaining for the most part, but they’ve often been encumbered by the need for universe building and constrained by their general earthbound settings, whilst the Thor comics have become weirder and more fantastical.
With Thor: Ragnarok it was clear from the earliest trailers that this wasn’t going to be the case. With Taika Waititi at the helm Marvel were looking to embrace some of the more outlandish elements of more modern Thor comics, and truly bring the over the top, mythology inspired, science fantasy elements to the film. The choice of Waititi as director was also a big move from Marvel, as here was a director making brilliant, funny, and original lower budget comedies, and it’s clear that they were hoping he could bring those touches to Thor’s world.
And right from the opening scene you know that you’re in for treat. The tone of Ragnarok is established right from the start with great humour, colourful popping visuals, and some of the more out-there classical mythological elements that the Thor comics had incorporated. Ragnarok is the kind of film where dragons and giant wolves can happily coexist beside alien fighting pits and spaceship battles. Waititi delivered what many people have long wanted from the Thor movies, and that’s pure intergalactic, fantastical fun.
The Thor films have always been built around Thor and Loki’s relationship, and Ragnarok is no different, with Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston continuing to deliver brilliant, charming performances. Other big Asgardian characters return such as Anthony Hopkins as Odin and Idris Elba as Heimdall, and there are appearances from the warriors 3. But the biggest returning MCU character outside of Thor himself is clearly the Hulk. There has always been a feeling that the Hulk works a little better as a supporting character, and that’s definitely the case here. Mark Ruffalo has owned both the Banner and Hulk aspects of the role since he took it over in The Avengers and he’s wonderful in Ragnarok, providing great comic relief, and some awesome moments on par with anything in The Avengers.
In fact most of the returning cast is excellent, and without the need to incorporate the Earth bound elements of the first two films, there is scope for even more to be added. Tessa Thompson’s addition as the heroine Valkyrie is great for the franchise. Throughout the film she’s badass and funny, but with depths behind this that slowly get teased out. The two antagonistic characters, Hela and Grandmaster, both hammed up to the max by Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum, give these brilliant actors a great opportunity to just have a lot of fun with the villains, and stop them becoming dull, forgettable plot devices. The final new addition is Waititi himself as Korg. He is easily the funniest part of the film, and allowed Waititi a chance to show off his wonderful comedic abilities that have stolen scenes before, like his appearance in Hunt For The Wilderpeople.
And a lot of focus will be on the comedy that Waititi brings to the film, given his comedic background, but more than just hilarity Waititi has created a hugely entertaining, beautiful, space fantasy romp. Thor: Ragnarok isn’t going to be the most thought provoking film ever, or even in the MCU, but it may be one of the most out and out entertaining ones. If you want a great time at the cinema then go and see Thor: Ragnarok. It is completely ridiculous, but by embracing the ridiculousness, it is just pure fun.