In a year for Marvel movies that saw both Spider-Man: Homecoming and the grand return of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor was going to have to do something different to be considered alongside these more popular heroes. Thor’s earlier movies had been less than successful and many considered The Dark World as one of the weakest in the series. Marvel studios know what they are doing though and in their quest to look outside the box for new talent and directors, hiring in Taika Waititi was a master-stroke.
Waititi brought a different dimension to one of Marvel’s weakest links but strongest characters. This would be done by highlighting the absurdity of it all. From the outset, Thor is a funny movie. It plays for laughs, but not by being too silly or devolving into parody but instead using dialogue, a cutting quip or clever line and by utilising the confidence of Hemsworth, Hiddleston and other Marvel alumni.
By making Thor an action-comedy, it does a good job of separating itself even further from the wider universe and the other superhero movies which Marvel keep flooding the blockbuster market with. Add to this some cool action and you have a movie which is just, downright fun.
Even those action set-pieces manage to be different from what have gone before. With Led Zeppelin as their soundtrack, the action-sequences feature a Thor with cool moves, confidence and a veteran feel, which is why the story works so well when he is taken completely out of his element.
Thor has been out of his element before but here he is a gladiator, competing against his will under the command of a “having far too much fun” Jeff Goldblum. The trailer did a good job of spoiling the major surprise but once Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk arrives and the big battle commences, you can’t help but have a huge smile across your face as one of the better showdowns in the Marvel universe plays out again. The bromance that follows between the reluctant partners just adds to both the comedy and the action-credentials of the movie.
Goldblum isn’t the main villain of the Marvel movie though and this is down to a perfectly nasty Cate Blanchett. Like all villains, Blanchett is clearly loving how evil she can be and for once she is a great foil for our hero. She matches him well and one first-act moment will shock the Thor fans and manages to effectively level the playing field.
Blanchett is not the only strong female and to assist Thor and give him plenty more to contend with is Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie. She is continuing in what seems to be an impressive trend of strong, effective female heroes for the series and manages to be more than just a token love interest (in fact Natalie Portman is nowhere to be seen here).
New additions can’t take from the movie-stealing turn of Tom Hiddleston as Loki. He is as two-faced, wily and appealing as ever. Hiddleston and Hemsworth have great chemistry together and four films in, their connection is as good as it ever has been.
Which is a shame when some of the old Marvel issues start to return. The villains are an army of faceless minions that are easily dispatched in a CGI fest. The finale is fairly routine and predictable, even if it does have some cool moments hidden within. The tropes that are associated with superhero movies still can’t be evaded but it doesn’t stop this film being fantastic.
Overall, Thor Ragnarok is a renaissance for the God of Thunder. It is a funny, action-packed and notably different type of superhero movie from the rest of Marvel and Thor’s other films. Hulk’s addition is great, as is the cast of supporting characters but it still falls foul of some usual Marvel movie tropes.
Rating – 4.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)