Excitement was high as Marvel began to kick off its expanded universe with the original Thor movie back in 2011. And who can blame us with names like Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård, and the undeniably talented Anthony Hopkins behind the title. But what started off as an exciting venture into the multiple layers of the Marvel Universe soon proved to be a half-baked franchise with two forgettable movies. This, of course, is no fault of the performances of the actors or the production itself—all of which are top notch—rather, Thor like the second installment suffered from an identity crisis.
It just couldn’t get its recipe right. Each film tried to do too much. Having plot lines that were mixed with an overarching Avengers setup made it feel awkward and clunky. However, Thor: Ragnarok does not suffer from any of this. Unlike the previous two movies that were built on the backs of the strong Marvel brand, Ragnarok holds its own.
Marvel learned to take itself less seriously
The moment the movie begins the audience can tell that there is a different tone to the film. Stripped away are the serious, dark, mythological themes to make way for bright 80’s colors and a much sillier side of Chris Hemsworth.
There is no doubt that Guardians of the Galaxy played into helping to set the overall direction of the film. Guardians, for the Thor franchise, proved that you can take an interstellar movie, add hilarious characters and still manage to tell a good story.
Ragnarok keeps it simple. Instead of focusing on the build up made in Thor: The Dark Tower where Loki took Odin’s place on the throne, Ragnarok quickly dissolves the narrative in a hilarious way that creates the much needed humor between Loki and Thor’s characters. This was a smart move considering how Loki is a fan favorite. And some of the cameos for these parts where flat out incredible and totally unexpected.
The film has one main plot that has been coupled with a subplot. And while I’m sure the these plots will play into the 2018 Avengers Infinity War, I couldn’t tell and consider this to be a good thing since movies like Thor have to have their own individuality. Instead, the main plot focused on Loki and Thor’s long forgotten older sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) who was banished by Odin after we learn of his former, Maleficent rulership. Hela is determined to pick up where she left off by taking control of Asgard and ruling the entire galaxy.
Ironically the film keeps most of its characters in the subplot of the film: a lost-and-found planet where its inhabitants are obsessed with gladiatorial games. It’s there that the film tries to build the main plot in the background. The bulk of the film takes place within the subplot, and it is on the scrapyard planet that we get to meet some new characters. Yet with the Marvel Universe expanding, Thor gives some much needed screen time to the Hulk—a character that will most likely never get a standalone film (at least not for the foreseeable future).
Eventually through the work of some hilarious antics that involve stealing the Grand Master’s (Jeff Goldblum) party ship, the heroes are able to make it off the planet and through the…I’ll just say big hole…and back to Asgard.
This entire film never tries to take itself too seriously, and it works. For Marvel, it is the perfect blend of superhero action and humor that makes us love the comic book franchise. And though I’m not sure how much longer the superhero movie genre will last, I am definitely excited to see more films of this nature. Maybe DC can learn a thing or two from Marvel and stop forcing their expanded Universe and overly serious plots. A guy can dream, right?