“Thor: Ragnarok” sees Thor return to true form

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Photo courtesy of io9

The third installment in the Thor franchise saw Thor become the true god of thunder that we've all been waiting for him to be.

Aidan Harbison, Staff Writer

As it would seem for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the third time’s the charm – a heady blend of wit, good-natured fun and fast-paced action set “Thor: Ragnarok” apart from its previous installments, due to the latest additions of director Taika Waititi and a newer (and honestly better) squad. It marks the beginning of a departure from the more action-packed superhero films of yesterday to a comedic and family-friendly style, playing off of the worldwide comedic success of “Spiderman: Homecoming”. And it doesn’t hurt that it has a little something for just about everyone.

“Thor: Ragnarok” sees the return of the Norse god Thor (Chris Hemsworth) as he fights alongside Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to save his home of Asgard from the impending doom of Ragnarok, the mythological apocalypse. As Odin is dying, a war for his throne is being fought, and Hela, the all-powerful goddess of death, rises from her imprisonment by Odin to earn what she believes is her rightful throne, intent on murdering both Thor and Loki to claim her queenship. Hela is a masterpiece of villainy – sadistic, gruesome, and evil – but understandable as a character, and her portrayal by Cate Blanchett is gripping and hilarious.

Yet MCU fans would be quick to notice the disappearance of Jane Foster, Thor’s love interest and close companion throughout the series. And while “Thor: Ragnarok” has a lack of romance, it never seems to be missing that romance – the characters’ relationships were best without an irredeemable love triangle or get-the-girl scenario. It’s a switch that I hope future superhero flicks try to impose, and let the movie focus more on developing characters and bonds without a cheesy romance to impede their arcs.

The movie also saw the appearance of another interesting character – the nameless Scrapper 142 (Tessa Thompson), one of the Asgardian Valkyries, completed the new Revenger squad, a play on the Avengers, alongside Thor and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). She’s a rebel and a fighter – sarcastic, reckless and also trying to forget about her past, making for an all-around intriguing character.

But what makes “Thor: Ragnarok” so much more interesting for any average movie-goer is the humorous elements and jokes throughout the plot. When Thor needs to activate the Quinjet on the planet Sakaar, he’s quick to state “strongest Avenger” to the voice activation; as soon as Banner arrives, he unlocks it simply with the word “Banner” and the system activates, stating “Welcome, strongest Avenger.” When Korg (Taika Waikiki), a humanoid rock lifeform, talks to Thor about using a four-pronged hammer to fight the Hulk in the arena on Saakar, the conversation quickly turns to “Yeah, not very useful unless you’re up against three vampires all huddled up.” The brief moments of levity and characters not taking themselves too seriously is a great change of pace for superhero movies, who previously were all too gruff and serious.

However, the main problem that one is quick to assume is that the film is only for the old fans of the Marvel franchise, and that new viewers will be confused and disappointed. This isn’t the case here. Waititi manages to balances easter eggs and jokes for longtime MCU fans, while making sure that new viewers won’t be confused and will still have a good time. It’s something that I appreciated the most, as a first time Thor movie viewer, and it was executed perfectly.

Of course, “Thor: Ragnarok” isn’t perfect. This movie has a huge diversity issue; while Hela is one of Marvel’s first female villains, which is something that I certainly appreciated, most major leads are decidedly male and white, such as Thor, Loki, Odin, and the Grandmaster. There are only two characters of color – Heimdall and Scrapper 142, and Heimdall has a minor role and Tessa Thompson’s character is nameless and simply referred to as “the Valkyrie”. Despite the wonderful acting and characters, and the fact that Norse mythology is white dominated, there’s no excuse for lacking diversity in today’s movies.

But overall, the latest “Thor: Ragnarok” pretty much has it all. Family-friendly and good enough for any movie-goer, the 2 hour 10 minute runtime passes in a blur and leaves viewers wanting a little more of Thor and his Norse-inspired adventures.