It’s been ten years since Marvel took dominance of our movie screens and I for one am getting a little bit bored of it. I know that this isn’t a new position of the MCU, others more talented and famous than I jumped ship ages ago after Avengers: Age of Ultron and even before that. However, I find myself grudgingly going to see the latest costumed superhero beating on another villain that is much more interesting than they are. This is even happening on the small screens with The Defenders on Netflix, The Inhumans and Agents of Shield on regular TV. Audiences feel stuck; they aren’t going to see these films because they want to anymore, they are mandatory. So it was these feelings of resignation, despite the absolutely fabulous marketing, that I went to see the latest instalment of perhaps one of the weakest MCU properties, Thor: Ragnarok.
Set after Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor has been unsuccessful in his search for the mystical cosmic rocks known as Infinity Stones. He returns to Asgard and finds Loki pretending to be their Father Odin, the two go looking for the King of Asgard and find that they have a sister, Hel, who was banished by Odin and has returned to take the throne. The three fight, leading Thor and Loki to be stranded on a far-flung planet forced to participate in gladiatorial battles with an old giant green friend.
Thor has always been in an odd position, there out of nessessity rather than out of a genuine need to tell his stories. This is because Thor strides the three sides of the MCU, the Earth through the Avengers, the Cosmic stuff because he is an Alien and finally the Mystical side to Marvel being a Norse god and all. He is the cornerstone for the Infinity War story. The original Thor directed by Kenneth Branagh is a solid Shakespearean film that spawned a fantastic villain/occasional hero, Loki, but was over shadowed by Ironman and Captain America. Thor: The Dark World, however, was a forgettable mess that was one of the first missteps in a series of films that had been solid blockbusters up until then and sparked a diversity of quality in the following MCU films.
With this third instalment of the Thor series however, it appears that the franchise has finally found its feet. Director Taika Waititi, who along with one half of Flight of the Concords, Jermaine Clement made the excellent Vampire Mocumentary, What We Do in the Shadows, has provided a vibrant, exciting, preposterous, joyful adventure. Waititi is very aware that Thor is a bizarre figure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a magical alien Norse god.
The film is brimming with that great New Zeland humour delivered by the hamtastic Jeff Goldblum and Cate Blanchette as the movie’s villains. In fact I could have possibly watched an entire movie that just had these two having a conversation, and I would have loved every singe second. Waititi himself has a cameo as Rockman Korg that Marvel fans may recognise from the Planet Hulk plotline. Thor veterans, like Chris Hemsworth, Idris Elba and Tom Hiddleston similarly lend charismatic performances that power the film through most of the story and all the cast look like they are having a blast amongst the creative worlds and fantastic production design. The worlds and universe the characters exist in have a lived in and vast quality to them. It leans heavily into the strange sci-fi of Guardians of the Galaxy, but that works in Thor’s favour, playing up the fantastical nature of it.
The film does have its problems; there is a cameo that felt entirely unnecessary only to place Thor in the MCU. There is an overreliance on humour and bright spectacle without any of the weightier moments that Guardians of the Galaxy mixes so expertly.
Thor: Ragnorok despite the title is just plain fun, it doesn’t take itself seriously and seems happy to be on our screens. It has a unique aesthetic and tone that sets it up as one of the shining examples of what a superhero movie can be. With Waititi’s inventive take on humour and design I am sure that Thor Ragnorok will be a welcome alternative to the dark, gritty and unfinished looking Justice League Movie. This is a Marvel film that may reinvigorate your enjoyment of the MCU and after youve seen it maybe give Taika Waititi’s other films like Boy, What We Do In the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople a go as well, they are totally worth it.
You can watch Thor: Ragnarok in cinemas now