There’s no denying that we live in an age of superhero movies. From the MCU to the DCEU to Fox backed franchises of other Marvel comics, it can sometimes feel a bit much.
And as much as I have enjoyed a lot of the Marvel films, sometimes it feels like you’re just gearing up for the same thing again. But there’s no denying that there’s something different about Thor’s third solo outing.
Directed by Taika Waiting of What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Thor: Ragnarok follows Thor as he tries to prevent the end of the world from taking place when Hela, the Goddess of Death takes over Asgard. So far, so standard superhero stuff.
But unlike a lot of other superhero films (I’m looking at you, Batman Vs Superman) Thor does not take itself seriously. At all. Yes, there are dramatic fight scenes and special effects, but there is a heavy steak of humour running strongly throughout the script. Chris Hemsworth and the rest of the cast are on fine form poking fun at each other in between, and sometimes in the middle of, the more ‘serious’ aspects of the film.
You get the sense that there’s been a sense of relaxation during this film, a willingness to improvise and riff that there hasn’t been in other MCU films. And this is a funny film. Not simply in the odd throwaway line or two, but actual stupid funny moments that just makes you smile. And there is definitely a natural camaraderie that builds between the characters where you can see them actually being friends unlike the sometimes forced friendship of some of the other Avengers ensemble films. It also finally gives Thor the film he deserves, something unique and actually interesting, an aspect which Chris Hemsworth himself has also commented on.
It’s also wonderfully refreshing to see the addition of some great new characters, mostly, if I’m honest, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, an elite warrior from Asgard who ended up working for the oddball Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum).
Thor: Ragnarok feels pretty different from the rest of the MCU if I’m honest, perhaps sharing most similarity with Guardians of the Galaxy, in its humour and it’s unabashed shame of being an outwardly comic book movie. The multicoloured planet of Sakaar where Jeff Goldblum rules in all his blue nail varnished glory, is as comic book as you can get, rubbish falling from vibrant portals in the sky, a land of wacky hair styles and bright colours.
There are also some stunning moments of beauty as well, especially in the moments where we see the Valkyrie fighting Hela. The contrast of dark and light, the framing of good vs evil, the muted tones give the scene the feel of an eerie Renaissance oil painting.
If, like me, you’ve seen some of Taika Waititi’s other films, you can also play a game of who’s who, as he has included some actors he’s previously worked with – my favourite being the unflappable Topaz, played by Rachel House, the scene stealing Paula in Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
Thor: Ragnarok is a film that not only has some sense of autonomy in the largely homogeneous MCU, it’s funny, silly and just pure entertainment.