It would be an understatement to say that Marvel’s Thor franchise has struggled to find its identity more than any other. The original movie, Thor, directed by Kenneth Branagh, was a solid and Shakespearian start to the franchise, despite grossly miscasting Natalie Portman as Thor’s love interest. Thor: The Dark World was a tonally muddled sophomore slump of a movie that relegated Portman’s Jane to the cliché of a swooning damsel and even left little mischief from breakout star Tom Hiddleton’s Loki, God of Mischief.
Thor: Ragnarok is the dazzling recalibration the franchise not only needed but deserved. With a fantastic cast, stunning special effects, a delicate mix of absurd humor and unrelenting action, and a sprawling plot that finds Thor stripped of his precious Mjolnir and held prisoner as a gladiator on a savage planet as Asgard falls under the reign of Hela, Goddess of Death, Thor Ragnarok is not only one of the best movies Marvel has ever made, it just may be one of the top 10 best movies in the superhero genre. It’s also well on its way to becoming one of the biggest openings this year, taking in an estimated $121 million in its opening weekend, BoxOfficeMojo.com reports.
Ragnarok solidifies some important things more than a clap of thunder...
Chris Hemsworth is a gotdamn movie star. I will be the first one who rolls my eyes when actors complain about being too beautiful to get roles. After all, Hollywood is an industry built on beauty even more than talent. But in Chris Hemsworth’s case, it might actually be true. Outside of the massively successful Marvel movies, Hemsworth’s stateside resume is mostly made with B-level action movies and period pieces.
The Ghostbusters remake is his only foray into comedy. Ragnarok proves that Hemsworth is the entire package. Despite his insane gorgeousness, he carried a film that strategically weaves twisted humor, horror, action and complicated F/X shots and it made it look easy. Those biceps definitely may help, but in this case, his talent did most of the heavy lifting. After this film, I want to see Hemsworth—Hemmy, if you’re nasty—in romantic comedies, thrillers, action movies, and more! Preferably while making hearteyes at Tessa Thompson.
Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie is EVERYTHING. Valkyrie is one of the best female characters in the MCU thus far, and it’s because of Tessa Thompson. Her portrayal as a tough, unscrupulous badass finds her trading blows and one-liners with the likes of Oscar winners and nominees like Mark Ruffalo and Cate Blanchett, and she doesn't just hold her own, she steals most of the scenes.
Beyond that, Valkyrie is a fully fleshed out character. The crux of her existence isn’t that she’s a woman or a even a black woman—though that’s fucking awesome—it’s that she becomes an unlikely ally with her contender and has an arc all her own. Thor and Hemsworth give Valkyrie the space she needs to be great, sometimes better than him. And even if they didn’t, Valkyrie and Tessa would snatch it anyway.
Thompson has reportedly pitched an all-female movie to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige that would star Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow, Zoe Saldana’s Gamora and more. This instantly ride-or-die Valkyrie fan is officially putting in her request for a solo Valkyrie franchise.
Taika Waititi is a genius. Taika Waititi, the new director of the Thor: Ragnarok was given the freedom to basically do whatever he wanted with the third movie. And he followed his instincts by upending the Shakespearean stiffness and adding a quirky brand of comedy, euphoric styling and the rat-tat-tat pace that is epically right for a superhero movie with gods, goddess, prophecies and magical hammers but with breath-taking imagery worthy of Norse mythology and classical paintings.
He also used his own talents to play Korg, a motion-captured gladiator who is as weird as he is rock hard (Sidenote: he’s made of rocks). Waititi, being a Māori of the Te Whānau-ā-Apanui iwi, made sure to include opportunities for indigenous people as well as include more diversity behind and in front of the camera. The change, from Thompson’s casting to extras for background shots, was noticeably inclusive and lovely. Unless Marvel execs are complete rockheads—no offense, Korg—this will not be the last film Waititi will make for MCU.
The cast is phenomenal...Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Mark Ruffalo, Jeff Goldblum and Karl Urban...nuff said.
Girlpower, yes! DC’s Wonder Woman is revered as one of the most feminist superhero movies ever made, due to Gal Gadot’s stunning portrayal as Prince Diana of Themyscira. Though I liked the movie, it didn’t inspire me to roar, burn my bra or wear a pink pussy hat (But bras are expensive and those hats are stupid). After the story moved from that mystical Amazonian island, there were no other women embattled in the fight.
There’s an incendiary sense of freedom in Ragnarok, and it’s never stronger than when Cate Blanchett’s eyeliner-obsessed Hela is onscreen. In a battle sequence that defies the laws of physics, Hela (in that epic cat suit) kills an entire Asgardian battalion. Who cares about a complicated villain origin story when you can murder a few hundred people in seconds?
And who cares about Thor when Valkyrie gets an such an awesome introduction? For this superhero fan, true girlpower is involves the organic inclusion of all women as characters who are integral to the story. They don’t have to be classically strong and can even be sexy and objectified (although I love that the women in Ragnarok were similarly clothed as the men, and that Hemsworth and Ruffalo are the only ones prepping for topless shots). But what Waititi and the writers of Ragnarok did was simple: they treated women like actual people, and incorporated them into the story in a real and dynamic way. Now, that’s feminist AF.
Photo Credits: marvel.com; zumbio.com; forbes.com