Thor Ragnarok is a superhero film. It is the third of the Thor movies and seventeenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Set two years after Age of Ultron, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds himself captured by the fire demon Surtur (voiced by Clancy Brown). Surtur is eager to start Ragnarök, an end-of-times prophecy for Asgard when he puts his crown in Asgard’s Eternal Fire. Thor assures that his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) will prevent the calamity from happening, only for Surtur to reveal that Odin is not on Asgard at all. Thor handily defeats him and his army before returning through the Bifröst. The bridge is being guarded by Skurge (Karl Urban) instead of Heimdall (Idris Elba). Thor confronts Odin, only to reveal that it’s Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in disguise. After some help, Loki and Thor find Odin on the cliffside of Norway. Odin warns that his death is imminent and his prisoner Hela (Cate Blanchett) will be released and threaten Asgard. Sure enough, Odin disappears and Hela displays her power by destroying Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. Loki makes a call so he and Thor can return to Asgard, but Hela cuts them off and throws them into space. Hela recruits Skurge to conquer Asgard, believing herself to the be rightful heir to the realm.
Thor finds himself on the planet Sakaar. After a brief altercation, he is captured by Scrapper 142 (Tessa Thompson) and forced to compete in the Contest of Champions. Thor is prepped by the organizer of the contest Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) and former contender Korg (Taika Waititi, who also directs the movie). Thor is forced to compete, but is happily surprised to see his competition is his “friend from work” Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Together they endeavor to leave Sakaar.
The main narrative of the movie is put out right away but still leaves a lot to be desired. It quickly glosses over the time lost between previous Thor/MCU movies and only spends about 10 seconds on how the Hulk managed to land on an alien planet. Besides those two points that connects this movie to the universe it’s in, the plot as a whole is paced at an acceptable rate.
Despite being a sequel with several already established characters, this movie introduces a lot of characters with varying levels of interest. Skurge, for example, is present throughout and presents to have ambitions but doesn’t have the opportunity to fulfill them. Hela, on the other hand, is the primary antagonist and is fully fleshed out with a plan, abilities, and motivation. Finally, Grandmaster makes his presence known in every scene, either in the way he’s dressed or the mannerisms of his speech.
As for some of the established characters, I’m sad to say that some of them are absent or have so little screen time they’re hardly considered to be in the movie at all. Thor’s allies on Earth, such as Jane Foster, aren’t in the film. Since the film only touches down on Earth in two scenes, it’s understandable that there’s not screen time, but the characters aren’t even mentioned despite being so important in the previous films. A few significant Asgardian characters are done away with so quickly it’s tantamount to character assassination.
Still haven’t quite gotten over the last one.
The film builds off of previously established vernacular and Norse pronunciations. The character that sticks out the most when it comes to his words is Grandmaster, whose speech patterns always gets attention; nevermind that it’s literally broadcast throughout the planet. In an attempt to connect with Hulk, Thor tries to apply the same patterns that Black Widow uses in the Age of Ultron movie.
Aww, a bromance!
While most of the movie is very straightforward with its presentation of “stop the villain,” it briefly touches on one theme on three occasions. Distorting the past to make it more palatable is shown off by Loki (disguised as Odin) and corrected by Hela, who is revealed to be Thor’s older sister but hidden away by Odin. Hela seems that their past accomplishments should be celebrated, while Odin kept them hidden to seem more benevolent. I don’t know if this is supposed to be a reflection on society past or present, but it was definitely something that could have been fleshed out more.
“Immigrant Song” is present in one of the trailers and carries over into the film. Superhero themes for Hulk and Thor are sprinkled in the film, but the only other piece of licensed music comes from a certain confectionary manufacturer to comedic effect. While this movie seems to borrow a lot from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, it draws the line at using nostalgic music as part of its narrative, which I’m actually thankful for. Still, the lack of music overall seems to be the lowest point of the movie.
Taking place in space seems to be a big challenge in terms of the graphics department, but I feel that they’ve pulled it off well. Loki uses his visual tricks as he did in the previous films. Interestingly, the only unbelievable scene in the movie was in the first act in Norway. Thor, Loki, and Odin are all on a cliffside that was poorly rendered on the greenscreen it was shot on. But for everything else; the trash-laden planet of Sakaar, the royal halls of Asgard, and the Rainbow Bridge connecting the realms, are all finely set in the movie.
Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston return to the franchise as Thor and Loki respectively, as well as Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk and Anthony Hopkins as Odin. Newcomers include Cate Blanchett, Karl Urban, Jeff Goldblum, and Tessa Thompson. Idris Elba returns as Heimdall, and Clancy Brown has a voice role as the fire demon Surtur. Plenty of high profile stars and–holy smokes, cameos!
As with the previous films, Thor Ragnarok caters to the superhero film-goers. Honestly, the film doesn’t build much further to reach more demographics, and it this point it doesn’t have to; the film can just build off of the reputation of the previous films in the franchise.
As fun as this movie is, it seems more like a stepping stone to the upcoming Infinity War than its own movie. It doesn’t stand up on its own in the greater MCU, and just satisfactory when compared to the previous Thor films. I’ve mentioned before that much of the secondary cast is absent or put to a quick end, which is a shame. I would have liked to see a little bit more elaborate of a resolution for the characters if they aren’t important for this particular story.
The film takes several things from the comic book source material, particularly the titular story arc Ragnarok and elements of Planet Hulk, where Bruce Banner finds himself on an alien planet. The cosmic films of the MCU, like Guardians of the Galaxy, are going to be a bit difficult to connect to the traditional MCU movies like Iron Man or Captain America. As I’ve mentioned before, this seems as more of a connecting story to bring space and Earth together for the big event in May than a concluding story for Thor, if it indeed ends up being a concluding story for the franchise (film contracts are a funny thing).