Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok electrifies the Marvel Universe


courtesy of Marvel.com

Thor: Ragnarok opens to domestic box office of $122 million dollars.

Shrey Parikh, Reporter

Thor: Ragnarok is the third Thor film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and 17th movie in the entire Marvel series. The film is directed by New Zealand director Taika Waititi and stars Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Cate Blanchett (Hela), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie), Jeff Goldblum (The Grandmaster), Anthony Hopkins (Odin), Karl Urban (Skurge), Idris Elba (Heimdall), as well as Waititi himself as Korg. The movie also features many fun cameos, so be sure to keep an eye out for them.

The story follows Thor on his quest to prevent the destruction of his home, Asgard, at the hands of Hela, the goddess of death. Along the way, he loses his magical hammer that gives him his power, and he and Loki end up on a strange planet under the rule of the mysterious Grandmaster. There, Thor is forced to become a gladiator and finds himself fighting the Grandmaster’s champion, the Hulk. With the help of the Hulk, Loki, and Valkyrie, Thor must break free and return to face Hela before she brings about Ragnarok, the end of Asgard as he knows it.

As the the seventeenth entry in an ongoing series, franchise fatigue can be a concern; has the tried and tested Marvel formula finally failed? The first two movies in the Thor trilogy aren’t very good movies (I myself rank them as two of the four worst movies in the MCU), so Ragnarok had many reasons to turn out that way as well. I was relieved to find that Marvel has once again found a way to inject new energy into their movies. The hiring of Taika Waititi continues their recent trend of hiring indie filmmakers to direct their blockbusters and Ragnarok proves that the model works.

Waititi brings his signature humor that is present in all his other films and crafts, what could truly be called MCU’s first comedy. He has even stated in multiple interviews that 90 percent of the movie was improvised, an astonishing fact given how funny the movie consistently is. Chris Hemsworth is also finally able to stretch his comedy wings after appearing in several disappointing would-be comedies in the past couple years. While some may argue that too much comedy takes away from emotionally impactful story moments, the humor is perfect for Thor. He is a ridiculous character, and the fact that his first two movies took the character rather seriously called for a change in tone. Jeff Goldblum’s signature zany take on the Grandmaster and Waititi’s hilarious Korg are also standouts in a perfect blend of humor that makes Ragnarok unique as a superhero movie.

Speaking of characters, each and every one of them is given their room to breathe and develop, following natural character arcs, no small feat considering the sheer number of characters involved in the story. The characters grow and change on screen  in a realistic and impressively organic manner.  The MCU is notorious for having a problem with their villains, most of whom are generic copycats of the heroes and have no concrete motivations for their actions, but villainous Hela is brought to life by Cate Blanchett, relishing the goddess of death role. Whenever she threatens Thor and his team Blanchett oozes pure evil. Her motivations are clear, even if her introduction is a bit rushed. Still, her mere presence on screen draws the audience’s attention and her scenes are delightfully wicked.

Seeing as this is Waititi’s first time directing a big-budget action movie, I was worried the action scenes wouldn’t be at the same level as those from previous Marvel entries. I was pleasantly surprised as Thor: Ragnarok contained some of the most visually appealing fight scenes in the MCU. In fact, Ragnarok is possibly the most beautiful movie in the entire MCU, it’s only real competition being the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. Many of the shots look like they’ve been pulled straight from a tapestry, the bright colors popping right off the screen. The battles are exciting, both visually and story-wise.

The big-ticket Thor/Hulk gladiator smackdown is both funny and brutal, while the final battle is electrifying, literally. Thor finally gains full access to his full powers, and seeing him in all his glory is a gratifying payoff after four movies of him having the blandest powers of the entire Marvel pantheon. The Hulk is also finally fully realized as a character and hero, and as a result, his smack downs are now all the more brutal. Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie is another welcome addition to the cast as a hard-drinking former Asgardian warrior that still has some fight left in her. The battles naturally mesh together as every character’s powers are fully realized and utilized.

Overall, Thor: Ragnarok is a whole unique superhero movie that features some of the best cinematography, action, and humor in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Director Taika Waititi proves the success of the Marvel formula as he and the cast deliver a crowd pleasing action romp that is sure to go down as an all time top 5 Marvel movie.