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Warning: spoilers ahead.
It seems after two Thor movies, Marvel decided to do a huge pivot in tone for its third, and thank goodness Thor Ragnarok did.
I’m not saying that Thor (2011) and Thor The Dark World (2013) aren’t good — they just aren’t the best Marvel films, but they are surely watchable — but we all needed a change from the super-serious family drama spinning around the son of Odin.
Enter filmmaker Taika Waititi. Waititi has an outlandish style highlighted in his out-there indie films (“What We Do in the Shadows,” “Hunt for the Wilderpeople”), and he brought the perfect new feel to Thor.
If you’re a MCU diehard fan, you know that Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) have been out doing their own acts ever since Avengers Age of Ultron (2015), and didn’t show up in Captain America Civil War. (In Doctor Strange Thor popped up in the end credits.)
In Thor Ragnarok (now can be seen in theaters) we discovered what they’ve been up to.
After a stint trying to track down the Infinity Stones, we find Thor on his way back to his home of Asgard, as word is that Ragnarok, a giant battle foretold to lead to the ultimate destruction of Asgard, is coming. He returns to find Loki (Tom Hiddleston) ruling the world disguised as their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Needing to warn his father about Ragnarok, Thor makes Loki take him to where he left their father. After a funny guest appearance by Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), the brothers find their father, Odin, who is on the verge of death. He reveals that there is an even greater evil that’s to come, Hela (Cate Blanchett), the sister they never knew they had. Following a brief battle, Thor and Loki find themselves on the planet Sakaar on which they bump into a bunch of interesting characters, including Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (voiced by Waititi), Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), and Hulk, who has been on the planet for two years. They team up to head back to Asgard to take down Hela.
Sounds like a cut-and-dry Marvel movie, huh?
Well, aside from the usual exposition, the film is full of deadpan jokes and is-this-scene-really-in-a-Marvel-movie moments. From Thor and Hulk sitting on a bed talking about their feelings, to Goldblum being his most Goldblum, Thor Ragnarok is an enjoyable break from the more “serious” issues explored in the MCU.
Thor Ragnarok definitely isn’t the first Marvel film to be fun. All MCU titles have taken pride in having a playful mix of laughs and action (the Guardians of the Galaxy movies and Spider-Man Homecoming are recent examples).
But what Waititi brings to Thor Ragnarok is way beyond that.
Every funny remark or action in Thor Ragnarok is extended further, and what comes out of that is a playful tone that is a nice break to the mind-numbing violence.
It’s also nice to see Hemsworth being allowed to showcase his comic talents beyond just a line here or there in the previous two entries.
But that’s not to say Thor Ragnarok movie is perfect.
There are points when the momentum stops for (ugh) plot. Most of the film is divided between Thor and his “Revengers” trying to escape from Sakaar, and the evil acts Hela is doing on Asgard. The shift to the action on Asgard is dull and by-the-numbers.
Sadly, Blanchett doesn’t help in this part of the movie. Like the majority of superhero movie villains, Hela is a bland and predictable character. Blanchett has a few chances to join the fun, and spit out a witty line of two, but she’s busy stabbing things (or people) with the unlimited swords she can summon and mimicking a distracting Enchantress from Suicide Squad walk at times.