Thor: Ragnarok came out on Nov. 3
Thor: Ragnarok is the third movie in the Thor trilogy and the mind-blowing 17th in the expansive Marvel Cinematic Universe—and it was better than anyone could have ever expected. While Thor (Chris Hemsworth) was always fun and entertaining, he was few people’s favorite Avenger. In his solo ventures, Thor was too often overshadowed by the over-the-top antics of his charming, sometimes genocidal, brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) for the audience to become invested in him. Thor and Thor 2: The Dark World both did reasonably well in the box office but currently boast some of the lowest scores in the MCU on Rotten Tomatoes, with 77 percent and 66 percent, respectively.
Despite the relative weaknesses of its predecessors, Thor: Ragnarok opened to an impressive $121 million domestically in its first weekend. Fan interest was piqued by the trailers, promising something very different with their bright colors, overtly comedic tone, and Led Zeppelin music blaring in the background. As happens very rarely, the movie delivered on everything the trailer promised. The beginning of the film is a bit jarring since the movie seeks to quickly establish itself as a comedy, and even in the wake of films like Guardians of the Galaxy, this level of absurdity is wholly unexpected. As the story progresses, though, it is easy to adapt to the lighthearted tone, and viewers are in for a hilarious ride for the next two hours.
The film opens with Thor fighting Surtur, a fire giant with the capability to destroy Asgard. After defeating Surtur, Thor returns home and forces Loki to help find their missing father (whom Loki has taken the form of and has been ruling in his stead).This search unfortunately leads to the inadvertent release of Hela (Cate Blanchett), the bloodthirsty Goddess of Death, who is determined to take over and rule as the new queen of Asgard. While trying to defeat her, Thor and Loki are accidentally transported to the world of Sakkar, an intergalactic garbage dump and the home of the Grandmaster’s (Jeff Goldblum) gladiator games. It is here that Thor meets up once again with the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and after a fantastically staged fight, and an equally fantastic bonding session, Thor tries to recruit him to help save Asgard from Hela’s clutches. Along the way, he picks up Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and his flip-flopping brother Loki to help him escape Sakkar and defeat Hela.
Although the plot itself is nothing to write home about, the movie truly shines in its visuals and character development. All actors in this film throw themselves into their performances and create tangible, relatable characters. This is by far Chris Hemsworth’s best outing as Thor; he is comfortable in his skin as the thunder god and seems to appreciate the chance to flex his chops as a comedic actor. His timing is excellent, and he balances on the fine line between cockiness and genuine sweetness. Furthermore, this is the first movie where Thor is not overshadowed by Loki. In this movie, Hiddleston’s Loki is put in his place. He is humiliated, tied up, and thrown around, but also given the best moments of authentic familial bonding with Thor thus far. Similarly, Hulk is fleshed out and made three-dimensional in this film. Bruce Banner has been the Hulk for two years now, in which time he’s competed in gladiator tournaments, learned to speak in full sentences, and developed his own personality.
This film also introduces new villains and heroes who frequently steal the show from the more established characters. Cate Blanchett is clearly having fun with her role as Hela, over-the-top but emanating power and personality that most Marvel villains have lacked thus far. Valkyrie is an outstanding new character who slides neatly between Thor, Hulk, and Loki as though she’s always been there. Tessa Thompson makes Valkyrie effortlessly cool, walking with enviable swagger before executing impressive fight choreography. She also has a palpable chemistry with Thor that was sorely lacking between Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman. Jeff Goldblum appears as the immortal being the Grandmaster and manages to parody himself and his Goldblum-isms without feeling campy. It’s arguably bad that it always appears as though Jeff Goldblum is just reacting in real time to this world rather than being a character, but it most certainly does not lessen the enjoyment of him.
Thor: Ragnarok is the Thor movie fans always wanted. This movie finally makes Thor the star of his own story while taking the audience on a colorful, intergalactic rollercoaster that grapples with the intricacies of Thor’s comic mythos without being afraid to get silly. Taika Waititi was an inspired choice for director, his unique comedic and visual style forging this film into what Thor should have been from the beginning: fun in its purest form.