Disney, Live Action, Reviews, Studios

MCU Countdown #17: ‘Thor Ragnarok’

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Since the first Iron Man film, I have been a big fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Through ups and downs, there hasn’t been a movie I’ve found unwatchable or awful, and most are pretty great. I think the reason it works is that it is the ultimate franchise. More than any other movie brand, Marvel has figured out what works in their movies and what their universe is and then they give the directors room to work within that formula.

Some may see this as boring but I think it is liberating. It saves the director from having to reinvent the wheel with each film, and they can just focus on their creative flourishes and making their own unique Marvel movie. Nowhere is this phenomenon more true than with Taika Waititi’s Thor Ragnarok. It is on-brand but full of Waititi’s delightful eccentricities and gleeful exuberance. It’s a joyful film to watch with something to entertain just about anyone. I love it and think it is, without a doubt, one of the best of the MCU.

Going into Thor Ragnarok there were a lot of questions: Where did Hulk go after Age of Ultron? What has Thor been doing during Civil War? When will Loki be revealed to be Odin? What is Doctor Strange going to do with Thor? Taika Waititi, in his brilliance, answers all of these questions in the first 15-20 minutes and then moves on to his film. I really enjoyed getting to see Loki’s play at the beginning and the interactions with Doctor Strange worked.

Then we get introduced to the daughter of Odin, Hela, played with delicious energy by the incomparable Cate Blanchett. She has escaped prison and wants to return Asgard to its once great military glory. In a shocking turn of events, she destroys Thor’s hammer and sends him to the planet Sakaar. Then she goes to Asgard and remains pretty intense, killing all she sees, including the Warriors Three.

The events on Sakaar end up being everything I hoped Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 would be. It’s brightly colored, hilarious, and full of engaging action. Thor meets up with Loki and the Hulk, and is introduced to Valkyrie, the Grand Master, and a rock creature named Korg. I loved all of these characters. They all had great chemistry together and the script was witty and yet filled with the occasional moment of heart. Thor and Loki know that Asgard is in great trouble so they always have that in the back of their mind. This scene between Loki and Thor is one of my favorites. It’s very sweet and honest to start and then hilarious to end it out:

I particularly appreciate how Thor Ragnarok gave us more character development for Heimdall, who is not just a gatekeeper any more but is Thor’s eyes on Asgard and helps to rescue the fleeing citizens from Hela. I also think we get to know Hulk better in Thor Ragnarok. Other films we learn about Bruce Banner but here we see Hulk walking around and talking and that was very interesting and funny (plus Bruce putting on Tony’s tight clothes was so hilarious).

Thor Ragnarok is a movie I can’t imagine disliking. I know it is too silly for some but, with all the action and carnage, I don’t really understand that view. I was thinking about it and I’m pretty sure that more deaths will stick in Thor Ragnarok than in Infinity War. At the very least, I don’t think we are seeing The Warriors Three, Skurge, or Odin again. The script is super funny but then it can also be sweet and full of style. It’s without a doubt the most rewatchable of the Marvel movies and has something any age group can enjoy.

I love all of the new characters, especially Valkyrie. She was such a kick butt boozy character but was also both damaged and funny. I love Korg who was played by the director Taika Waititi, and Jeff Goldblum was perfect casting as the Grand Master.

Thor Ragnarok is the epitome of everything the MCU does right. It has charismatic actors with a great script that allows them to defeat the bad guys with style. All the production design, costumes, and hair are fantastic (yes I dug Thor’s short hair!). It somehow feels refreshingly new and yet a perfect example of the Marvel formula all at the same time. I love it and hope we get another MCU film from Taika Waititi soon.

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About Rachel Wagner

Rachel is a rottentomatoes approved film critic and podcaster. She loves all things animation and does a monthly podcast on classic Disney films and on obscure animation at Rachel's Reviews. She also is the founder and lead host of The Hallmarkies Podcast. She grew up with mainstream classics like The Little Mermaid and The Simpsons but also loves indie and anime fare like Song of the Sea and Your Name. Most important to her is discussing all kinds of film and TV shows with her friends and all of you. Follow Rachel on twitter at @rachel_reviews and on her blog rachelsreviews.net