Possibly the funniest superhero movie ever made Thor: Ragnarok is balls to the wall bonkers and perfectly distills the Marvel formula of lighthearted, glib action to its purest form.
Ragnarok follows on from the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, opening with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) on an interstellar quest to find out who’s hunting down the cosmic MacGuffins, the Infinity Stones.
Unfortunately for our hero, he gets distracted from his quest when he and his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) accidentally release the Goddess of Death Hela.
Hela immediately does what all death gods do, defeating both brothers and banishing them from Asgard before seizing the throne for herself.
Lost, alone and most importantly hammerless Thor finds himself trapped on the Planet Sakaar where he’s captured by Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) who sells him into slavery (more like ‘prisoners with jobs’) where the Heir to Asgard is made to fight against his former comrade the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).
It’s like McGregor versus Mayweather in space, isn’t it?
Thor: Ragnarok is a fantastic film, unafraid of its comic origins and more than willing to poke fun at the sometimes portentous superhero genre.
Seriously, not since James Gunn unleashed the Guardians of the Galaxy on unsuspecting audiences in 2014 has a Marvel movie been so fun.
From the moment the film opens it’s a laugh a minute thrill ride full of jokes, gags, and mind-blowing action, basically, everything you want in a superhero movie
And while a lot of the humor’s no doubt down to the director Taika Waititi, who I’d go so far to say is a comic genius, some credit has to go to the stars of the show Hemsworth, Blanchett and Ruffalo.
All of them are hilarious, whether it’s Thor’s misplaced arrogance, Banner’s nonplussed terror, Loki’s reluctance to be wrapped up in another ridiculous adventure or Hela’s fury at no one remembering who she is, they’re all out of this world.
Don’t go thinking that Ragnarok’s only got jokes to offer though there are some incredible action scenes most notably, of course, the fight between Hulk and Thor which despite featuring prominently in the trailers still manages to surprise and thrill.
One thing that I found especially surprising was Hela, who manages to buck the Marvel trend of being a paper-thin villain.
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The character, while not as three dimensional as a character like Loki, has a believable motivation and a clearly defined goal beyond the usual, ‘I want to shoot a laser into the sky’ that so many Marvel villains fall afoul of.
It also helps that she’s a complete badass who’s more than capable of keeping up with Thor, physically throwing the self-proclaimed ‘strongest Avenger’ around as easily as he throws his hammer.
And while I’ve no doubt some will accuse Cate Blanchett of chewing the scenery like a ravenous Viking at a celluloid feast I found her an engaging and entertaining villain who’s well performed.
Fingers crossed characters like The Vulture and Hela will set a new trend for Marvel so we’re never blighted by another Malekith-style bad guy.
Perhaps the reason why this movie succeeds, however, isn’t because it’s funny or well directed (both of which are true) but because of how it embraces its comic book origins.
From vistas and visuals inspired by Jack Kirby’s visionary artwork to characters pulled from across the Thor mythos, Ragnarok is a love letter to the character and the passion shows on screen.
If I had any problem with the film it’s that it’s slightly shallow, you see throughout the film there’s this notion that home isn’t a place, it’s where your people are, a message which is slightly diluted when Thor must convince Banner to abandon the one place he’s ever been accepted.
It’s not a massive problem but it did stick in my craw ever so slightly, as did the film’s slightly rushed third act which while not as egregious as Age of Ultron’s final chapter doesn’t shine as brightly as the other two acts.
A joy from start to finish and infinitely quotable Thor: Ragnarok proves that as long as Marvel is willing to keep innovating then superhero movies are here to stay!