Thor: Ragnarok is Marvel's funniest movie yet. Director Taika Waititi manages to bring a comedic balance to the cosmic mythology of Chris Hemsworth's God of Thunder in a way that's expansive for the cinematic universe and a welcoming shift in tone for the series.
In my opinion, the Thor series is Marvel’s best kept secret if we’re talking cinematic universe all-timers. Both Thor and Thor: The Dark World presented us with something drastically different than what was before it, including expanding beyond the cosmos and accepting the God-like characters as normal, which really pushed the medium of comic book films, while also blending humor and action in a way that made the character both interesting and viable.
Taika Waititi‘s Thor: Ragnarok continues to push the expectations of what a Marvel film can be, increasing the comedy, expanding the universe a tad more, yet still focusing on what matters: the central character, his family and his home. Thor: Ragnarok might be Marvel’s funniest film since Guardians of the Galaxy, yet it’s also one that raises the stakes for the character, yet doesn’t feel like just another Avengers-level event film.
The last time we saw Thor (Chris Hemsworth), he was battling alongside The Avengers against Ultron. Since then, a Civil War broke out and a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man joined the mix, not to mention a bizarre Dr. Strange.
All of this has happened while Thor has spent time traveling the cosmos, in hopes of protecting his home Asgard from evil, more specifically, the end of times, known as Ragnarok.
In doing so, he inadvertently brings the Goddess of Death, Hela (Cate Blanchett), to Asgard, which sends Thor and his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) on a wild ride across space, where Thor ends up running into an old pal and a few new adversaries.
Taika Waititi‘s Thor: Ragnarok is a space-jumping good time of a film, taking advantage of Chris Hemsworth‘s comedic chops like no other, while also allowing those around him a fair amount of screen time to breathe into their roles. The trailers make you believe that Ragnarok is simply a buddy-buddy film between Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Thor, but there’s actually a lot more going on both below and above the surface. For starters, Loki gets a lot more to do this time around. I’ll never complain about Loki’s presence in a Marvel film, because Hiddleston somehow still manages to make the mischievous character so damn entertaining and hard to hate, yet this time around he’s actually given a more vital role.
It’s also hard to deny the strength of Idris Elba and Cate Blanchett. Elba continues to be one of Thor’s most worthy allies and in Ragnarok he’s given a purposeful role that doesn’t feel the slightest bit wasted. Blanchett doesn’t steal the show as Hela, but she does give Thor a worthy opponent that at least feels different than his enemies of the past. Marvel still struggles creating memorable villains outside of Loki, but Blanchett certainly tries to curve that expectation.
Jeff Goldblum and Mark Ruffalo are given substantially less, yet turn in absolutely great performances. Goldblum is one of the film’s best sources of comedy, outside of Hemsworth himself, while Ruffalo expands the Hulk character into a true raging monster. He gives the better part of his performance as the big green guy, while his Banner transformation sidelines him a bit.
Thor: Ragnarok contains all of the action and big-budget set pieces you’d expect out of a Marvel movie, with a wide array of color and enough slow-mo shots tricked up with a killer soundtrack. You can tell that this particular Phase of Marvel is channeling the 80s and in a big way and it certainly works its magic.
There’s also not too much focus or tie-in with Infinity War, which feels refreshing and incredibly well done. Sure, there’s a few reveals and even a joke that hints at stuff to come, but I love that Ragnarok is mostly doing its own thing and not worrying about much else.
Thor director Kenneth Branagh gave the character an epic and God-like feel, while The Dark World‘s Alan Taylor continued the trend of occasional comedy, but mostly fantasy and action mixed with a hint of darkness. Taika Waititi gives Ragnarok a fresh coat of paint, embracing the comedy by relying on his talent to deliver what’s right for the characters without ever making a complete ass out of anyone. Chris Hemsworth‘s energetic, yet prideful performance as Thor continues to impress me and remind me just how perfect he is for the role. Only Thor can be both bad ass and gullible — easily amused, yet never confused.
My biggest compliment is that Thor: Ragnarok manages to introduce comedy without becoming a complete joke. Waititi balances the cosmic expansion with the humor in a way that feels absolutely perfect. A majority of the film takes place on Asgard and other unique and cool planets that aren’t boring old Earth and I applaud that. My only real complaint is that the film does sag a bit towards the end, but it picks up in excellent fashion and finishes strong.
I’m excited for more Thor, yet I’d be perfectly fine with this being the last one. Thor might have the best trilogy of a Marvel character yet and I feel that he’s come full circle at this point, thanks to three strong, yet different films that all come together with Ragnarok — the absolute best Thor movie yet.