Thor: Ragnarok sees Chris Hemsworth return for his fifth outing as the titular God of Thunder. But this time, the fate of his own home – Asgard – is at stake. Tom Hiddleston also returns as Loki, alongside a star-studded supporting cast that includes Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins and Cate Blanchett as the villainous Hela, the Goddess of Death. When Hela seizes control of Asgard, Thor must find a way back from a prison on the other side of the universe in order to prevent Ragnarok, the “end of days” in Norse mythology.
While Hemsworth charmed audiences in the first two Avengers films, his solo outings in 2011’s Thor and 2013’s Thor: The Dark World rank as two of the weakest Marvel films – both critically and commercially. Therefore, when the president of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, wanted to inject new life into the Thor franchise, he turned to New Zealand director Taika Waititi. Waititi’s background includes acclaimed works such as the television series Flight of the Conchords and the 2014 vampire mockumentary film What We do in the Shadows.
In Thor: Ragnarok, Waititi’s comedic voice and vision of a “heavy metal” Thor shine like the music video of a 1980s glam band. There is more synth-pop than an episode of Stranger Things and the costumes and makeup are over-the-top in all the right ways.
Hemsworth also gets to make use of his comedic talent – something that was criminally underused in the previous films. There is a heavy dose of physical comedy and many witty one-liners you’ll be joking about with your friends as you leave the theatre. Ragnarok’s opening scene sets the tone for the film and is comparable in awesomeness to the iconic opening of the first Guardians of the Galaxy film. In fact, Thor: Ragnarok’s humour, aesthetic and space-opera beats make it more akin to the Guardians films than the previous Thor films – and that is to its benefit.
While the previous Thor films were unsure of whether to lean more towards fantasy or science-fiction, Ragnarok fully embraces the colourful and vibrant aesthetic of comic books – namely the work of legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby, the man who co-created many of Marvel’s most iconic characters alongside Stan Lee. From the buildings and ships to the costume and make-up, Thor: Ragnarok recreates Kirby’s iconic depiction of the cosmos like never before. The film not only corrects, but also plays on the criticisms of the previous two Thor films – including its weak villains.
Unfortunately, despite the gravitas Blanchett brings to the role of Hela, her character is not given enough to be more than two-dimensional. Both her means of seizing power and motive to do so are stale and predictable. Nevertheless, the supporting cast are excellent, and there will be a one or two new fan favorites.
Thor: Ragnarok is without question the best Thor movie. Hemsworth comes into his own and is able to show off his strengths as a comedic actor. Director Waititi does an excellent job of instilling both drama and humour into the epic alien worlds inspired by Kirby’s art. However, the film suffers from having a weak and predictable villain – a recurring problem for Marvel that will, fingers crossed, be resolved soon.