Thor: Ragnarok made $851.2 million at the Box Office, and its currently sitting pretty at 92% with a Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. I went to see it straight away in the cinema, as soon as physically possible, and I was seriously disappointed. I felt like I’d waited four years for a Thor film, an extension of my beloved Shakespearean tragi-comedy, only to somehow end up watching the third Guardians of the Galaxy movie two years too soon. My popcorn tasted dry, my family sized Coke was flat and my VIP seat was covered in pins. In short: I was p*ssed.
I still vividly remember going to see the first Thor movie in the cinema, back in 2011 when I was 17. I tell people that it was Iron Man that got me into Marvel but that’s a lie. It was Thor. My best friend dragged me to see it because she had a crush on Chris Hemsworth and despite the fact I was confident a magical-action flick wasn’t for me, I sat through it for her. We both left the cinema with pupils as big as saucers and talked non-stop for days about what the characters could be doing right now, whether Loki was dead (she didn’t really care but goddamn it, I did) and what the rumoured Avengers film might be like. Asgard was a golden dream, the Bifrost a shimmering mystery and the Odinson family broke my little heart in two. I was a pretty immediate die-hard fan of Loki and his slow and eventual descent into madness, and I felt deeply for Thor as he tried to stumble through his brother's self pity and save him from himself. Big feelings. Pretty space. I was sold.
So you can understand how much I was looking forward to the November release of the third Thor film. Ragnarok was a funny movie, I liked a few of the jokes but so many of them made me cringe out of my skin. From the opening scene with Thor tied up and spinning around in front of Surtur cracking wise a la Peter Quill, I was stressed. Since when was Thor incapable of getting through a conversation with a villain without pouring a solid litre serving of banter all over his exposition? I looked across at my best friend (now a different guy, but he loves Thor equally as much as I did) and he slowly shook his head at me. Oh no. The next two hours were a colourful explosion of fun set to an eighties themed score. Taika Waititi is cool, I get it. Pineapple suits and stuff, yeah. He had a vision for a film and he executed it well, I just wish he’d signed to direct a different Marvel film and not one that was a million miles away from everything he was into.
In Thor: The Dark World Loki died bravely, in his brother’s arms, after a semi-redemptive arc that still makes me cry now even thought I know the little shit never actually died. “I didn’t do it for him” wahhhh. Thor was bamboozled and fell for the trick, and Loki was living as his father on the throne of Asgard. Fascinating. What’s the long game here? Where are they going to go with this in the next film, because this is pretty dark and can’t possibly end well for our plucky musclebound hero. Fast-forward to Ragnarok and oh yeah, that story line is aborted now. Loki just sat around and ate grapes and then Thor figured it out straight away and now they’re friends again, haha stop talking and watch the fun now.
This takes us to the case of Thor’s crack warrior team of best friends – Volstagg, Fandral, Hogun and Sif – who were loyal companions for two films with an admittedly small smattering of character development. They actually saved Thor’s ass back in New Mexico in 2011. What happens to them in Ragnarok? They get killed like some NPC red-shirt, all apart from Sif. Clearly Waititi needed to make some room for his own masturbatory self-insert ‘Korg’, who’s apparently garnered such a fan following that he might be getting his own film!? Valkyrie is a good character, and she’s a welcome addition in that she’s a well written female character who isn’t a love interest for anyone else – at least I hope she’s not a love interest but Bruce did show some vague interest.
What’s the status of Thor’s difficult relationship with genius scientist Jane Foster in this film? Oh, they broke up off screen. That storyline is dealt with using two sentences between Thor, Loki and some Avengers fangirls posing for a selfie in the street. That is some honest-to-God lazy storytelling. What happened to Loki’s characterisation as a broken bird, with his crippling pride that’s ruined every good thing in his life? That doesn’t exist anymore because this Loki agrees to play a childhood prank on a set of baddies by allowing himself to be used as a limp battering ram by Thor. What?
Here's what I liked:
An emphasis on the total narcissism of Loki (“Your saviour has arrived”)
Cate Blanchett as Hela because Cate can do no wrong in my eyes
Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster, for pretty much the same reason
The astute among you will note that it's a short list. That's because this film honestly stripped everything I loved from this franchise and made it another funny psychedelic space-trip. It was a great film, but it ruined Thor for me.