Review: Thor: Ragnarok

Series: Marvel Cinematic Universe: #17

Series: MCU Phase 3: #5

Ooh, that poster. le kiss

Thor was … fine, a weirdly downscale introduction to a kind of strange character early in the MCU. Thor: The Dark World went the other way, being too bigt and ambitious and suffering somewhat for it. So going into Thor: Ragnarok, I wasn’t sure what we were going to get.

An absolute gem of an 80s sci fi/fantasy action superhero comedy that just works. Right from the very intro, you know it’s going to be a different sort of movie. They lean hard into the Norse/Asgardian mythos, with Thor in the underworld, chained up (but not concerned) by a giant flaming skeleton who’s supposed to signify the end of days. One spectacular Thor’ful action scene later and we’re back on Asgard, dealing with the missing Odin. Then we’re off to Earth, only to bump into Doctor Strange, now fully into his powers.

Thor: If you knew where he was, why didn’t you call me?

Dr. Stephen Strange: I had to tell you. He did not want to be disturbed. Your father. He had chosen to remain in exile. And you don’t have a phone.

Thor: No, I don’t have a phone but you could have sent me an electronic letter. It’s called an email.

Dr. Stephen Strange: Yeah. Do you have a computer?

Thor: No. What for?

It’s wonderful and quite the whirlwind. Next we find Odin, turns out Thor isn’t the firstborn, and things really go sidewise with the (re-)introduction of Hela, Goddess of Death, played spectacularly by Cate Blanchett. Big sibling fight, firstborn kicking butt, and then another dramatic shift as Thor is sent across the universe to a trashpile planet ruled by the absolutely ridiculous Grandmaster. Jeff Goldblum is a downright treasure.

Thor is reeling from his losses (“Sounds like you had a pretty special and intimate relationship with this hammer”) and sent to the arena, only to square off an old friend in one of the best matchups of overpowered heroes in the MCU. It’s quite spectacular. And add to that all the banter with Korg (played by director Taika Waititi; also a treasure).

Thor: Has anyone here fought the Grandmaster’s champion?

Korg: Yeah. Doug has. Hey, Doug. Could you come over here? Oh, yeah, I forgot, Doug’s dead. Anyone who fights the Grandmaster’s champion perished. You’re not actually thinking about fighting him, are you?

Thor: Yes, I am. I’m gonna fight him, win, and get the hell off this planet!

Korg: That’s exactly what Doug used to say! See you later, New Doug!

And that’s not even all, we also have the introduction of another Asgardian: Valkyrie Tessa Thompson. The banter between her and Hemsworth was enough to make them co-stars of Men in Black: International (for better or for worse). A fascinating interaction.

I think my only real gripe with Thor and the Asgardians in general: It still makes absolutely no sense what can and cannot hurt them. Fall 30 minutes or through the atmosphere of a planet? No worries. Get barely stabbed? x_x. Maybe it’s the royal family? It’s still pretty crazy.

All that said, it’s a fantastic movie and the first MCU movie to break into my Captain America top 3. Quite a ways up from the first two Thor movies and well worth the watch. As a contrast to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, this is very much a movie that you could just watch by itself.