The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues Phase 3 with the third solo film of Thor. The first Thor film was good, not great, but good. The second film was a big disappointment and a missed opportunity with one of Thor’s comic based greatest foes in Malekith. In Thor: Ragnarok, we get arguably the best film out of the three and Chris Hemsworth’s best performance to date. But does that make it a great film?
I guess it depends on you are as a viewer (I’ll get to that later).
At the end of Age of Ultron, we discover that Thor was in search for the Infinity Stones and the crazy dreams about the destruction of Asgard tells us what it means. This is where Ragnarok starts, as Thor gives us an introduction of what he’s been doing. Ultimately, he’s been trying to prevent Ragnarok from happening. Upon his return to Asgard, he finds Loki still pretending to be Odin and he exposes him. They then go looking for Odin who Loki put in a nursing home in New York. With the help of Dr. Strange, Thor and Loki get to Odin where the truth is revealed: Thor cannot stop Ragnarok because Hela (Cate Blanchett),the Goddess of Death, is coming. In their initial confrontation with her, they didn’t stand a chance and from there the race to stop Hela begins.
The other part of the film focuses on another Avenger who went missing after Age of Ultron, and that is Dr. Banner aka Hulk. Taking from the famed comic Planet Hulk storyline, Hulk is on a planet called Sakaar where he is a champion gladiator. Thor arrives and is forced to face him, all the while trying to escape and get back to Asgard.
As I said above, the film is the best version of Thor to date. It’s exciting and fun with great special effects and the Marvel staple of humor. It’s the type of film that shows where MCU is going, as they move towards a more ‘Guardians of the Galaxy-type’ loose fun adventure. (In fact, the opening sequence is a page out of James Gunn and the Guardians films in that it really lets you know that you’re in for a good time. The characters were great, and finally Hulk was given a personality rather than being portrayed as just a giant ape-like monster.
Of course, there are still those out there that won’t like it. I can see where many will think “nothing new here, same Marvel style film, bored of the formula, etc.” when they are looking for something different. For instance, my favorite film in the MCU is Winter Soldier because it is the one film that deviated from the formula and got it right, while others failed when they tried (Thor: The Dark World). But again, this film is extremely fun and definitely a good time for everyone.
However, and this probably the fanboy in me, I still left disappointed. Not because the film wasn’t fun, but because it left me wanting more. Hela was a formidable villain but I just didn’t get enough of her or the details of her background. I felt that I got two great stories crammed together and leaving me unsatisfied. Planet Hulk is one of the greatest Hulk stories in comics and this did it no justice. I would rather a full movie that stars this version of the Hulk (you know, the one with a personality) that details how he got to Sakaar and his rise in the gladiator world while working to liberate it. The film went too fast in parts where I wanted it to slow down and too slow in parts where I wanted it to speed up. By putting the story of Ragnarok and Planet Hulk together, we were cheated of great opportunities to flesh out the characters of Hela and Valkyrie as well as seeing Hulk as he should be and not just a mindless brute.
The one thing the film does well is in its message. Lies destroy, and Ragnarok came because of lies. In fact, most of Thor’s journey through all three films have come with him discovering the lies and sins of his father coming back to haunt him. Sin is a fickle thing. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death, and in this case it really was. Many times we fail to realize that the consequences of our actions don’t just affect us, but can affect those around us as well. It trickles down to our children, our friends and the world around us. Loki says it best when he tells Thor that, “it doesn’t feel good to find out you’ve been lied to your whole life”. Of course, his actions didn’t help in the matter. But the great thing about family curses is that all it takes is one to finally step up and put an end to it. In this film, it wasn’t just Thor taking that stand, but many of the characters needed to search within themselves and find redemption. Instead of running away from the problem, they must confront it and overcome it. A lesson we can all learn is that, to be worthy, we need to just simply believe in ourselves and do what is right.