Taika Waititi (“Hunt for the Wilderpeople”) and the folks at Marvel have finally fixed the mighty god of thunder.
“Thor” was a mostly generic superhero trope with a few moments of engaging action and humor, and it ended up being fine at best. “Thor: The Dark World” is arguably one of the worst movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Now, here comes “Thor: Ragnarok,” and it is everything a Thor movie should have been all along.
“Ragnarok” is getting a lot of attention because of how tonally different it is from its predecessors. The first two “Thor” films are pretty dull; Chris Hemsworth (“Avengers: Age of Ultron”) has nobody to play off of and it takes itself too seriously. This third “Thor” movie takes everything great about the character and uses it as an advantage.
The film’s humor is one of the standout elements. Hemsworth is genuinely hilarious as Thor. He has great comedic timing and delivery. He plays a Thor that is very arrogant and a little dumb, but he balances them both with a sarcastic, bold personality that works well. People are complaining that the god of thunder should be mighty and heroic, and he is, but a humorous take on Thor just works so much better in the context of the MCU.
Thor is not the only character to bust out their comedic chops. Jeff Goldblum (“Independence Day: Resurgence”) is the Grandmaster, the creator and ruler of the planet that Thor and Loki (Tom Hiddleston, “Kong: Skull Island”) become deserted on. Goldblum is an absolute delight in this film, where he gets to play a very weird man on an even weirder planet. His dry, yet silly sense of humor flourishes here. Even Hulk (Mark Ruffalo, “Spotlight”), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch, “Sherlock”), and new characters like Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson, “Creed”) and Korg (Waititi) all have scene-stealing dialogue. Even Hela (Cate Blanchett, “Carol”), the goddess of death, has a few one-liners that kill with the audience.
Hela is an interesting villain. She fits the minor-Marvel villain type so well, as somebody that wants to rule over everyone and will not stop until they do. Although this is something that Marvel gets a lot of criticism for, Hela sort-of breaks the mold at the same time. Her connection to the story told in “Ragnarok” makes a lot of sense for her being the way she is, plus she is literally the goddess of death, so she gets a pass.
“Ragnarok” helps Thor out by having 96 percent of the film not take place on Earth. Thor has a Norse mythological background and ties to Marvel’s intergalactic background, so why does he have to spend so much time in New York City? Putting Thor on what is basically a road trip across space with a great sense of humor and Jack Kirby-esque visuals is the right move. He is thriving in a fun setting with unique characters he can actually play off of, instead of a bunch of humans.
“Thor: Ragnarok” does a lot of things right. It is a fun retro journey back to the 1980s without even going there. It is full of surprises and jokes that fans will not see coming, but elegantly balances this hyper-stylized vision with true emotion and risk. “Ragnarok” not only increases the hype to when viewers will get to see “Thor” again, but also to see what else Marvel has up its sleeves.
Image from Marvel Entertainment via YouTube.com