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Thor: Ragnarok (2017) - MCU Retro Review

04.25.2018

 

Heading into the final few chapters of Marvel's Phase 3 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we decided it was time to take a look back at the last ten years worth of films (18 in all) and re-evaluate them based on how well they hold up today and how connected they are to the greater MCU now that the films have advanced so far into the timeline, which culminates in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR and it's untitled sequel. Are they as good as you remember? Do they still hold up today? Are the deeper MCU connections even deeper than before or weaker? Join us as we attempt to answer those questions and take another look at the last decade of Marvel Studios with our Retro-Review Series!

DIRECTED BY: Taika Waititi
WRITTEN BY: Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost
STARRING: Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Cate Blanchett (Hela), Idris Elba (Heimdall), Jeff Goldblum (Grandmaster), Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie), Karl Urban, (Skurge), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner / Hulk), Anthony Hopkins, (Odin), Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange), Taika Waititi (Korg), Rachel House (Topaz), Clancy Brown (Surtur)
STORY: Thor is imprisoned on the planet Sakaar, and must race against time to return to Asgard and stop Ragnarök, the destruction of his world, which is at the hands of the powerful and ruthless villain Hela.

I can still recall my first reaction to hearing that Marvel was making plans for THOR: RAGNAROK. I thought to myself, "Oh cool, another Thor movie, that's certainly not unexpected." Then, news broke that WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS and HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE director Taika Waititi would be guiding the God of Thunder's hammer, and I totally freaked out. I thought to myself, "Self, this shit is gonna be good!" For me, Waititi felt like a bold choice for Marvel, and I was overjoyed at the thought of someone with such a unique voice in film telling a superhero story. Never mind his consistently affable personality being a good fit for Thor, who is, to my mind, the most light-hearted Avenger. To my delight, the chemistry was excellent, and THOR: RAGNAROK became an energetic and entertaining romp.

To begin, I think the film looks incredible. The color palette throughout the adventure explores damn-near every hue in the spectrum, and the visual effects are some of the best I've ever seen in any Marvel-related movie to date. Adding to my enjoyment of the film is that I happen to think it's over-the-top funny. Humor is subjective, of course, but Taika Waititi is definitely in my wheelhouse. The movie also introduces a host of new and exceptionably likable characters. Not just "M'yeah , they were cool," easily forgettable additions, but honest-to-goodness basasses and revolutionaries. Why don't we make a quick list? Korg: A stony seditionist with the voice of an angel, Valkyrie: A hard-drinkin', bounty huntin' Asgardian warrior with a chip on her shoulder bigger than the tallest mountain in Jotunheim, The Grandmaster: a flamboyant megalomaniac with a heart of gold, Hela: the sinister sister, banished for bad behavior, and Skurge: a self-obsessed peon in need of redemption. It's a menagerie of misfits to be certain, though what a parade for the three-ring-circus that is THOR: RAGNAROK.

Speaking of bit characters, what in all the Hels happened to Sif and the Warriors Three? I don't know which is worse, the fact that Sif wasn't included in the film at all, or that the Warriors Three were so unceremoniously dispatched like so much garbage. In thinking back on THOR: THE DARK WORLD, it felt as if their stories had come to a natural end, so why have them return only to kill them off without so much as a proper farewell? Then there's Skurge. Don't get me wrong, I loves me some Karl Urban. However, aside from being the source for a decent chuckle, now and again, his character left me feeling underwhelmed to the point where even his redemption arc felt vanilla.

All that said, THOR: RAGNAROK offers plenty worth sticking around for. The Thor and Loki chemistry is arguably the best it's ever been, we got more of the big green guy than we could handle (in the best possible way), and a story that finally sees Thor truly come into his own as the leader of the Asgardian people. It's a simple story told very well, with all the appropriate accouterments of a blockbuster comic book jaunt.  

READ THE ORIGINAL THEATRICAL REVIEW!

Thor versus Surtur: For my money, it doesn't get any better than watching Thor and Mjölnir go to work. In a film where we didn't get as much of the magical hammer as we would have liked, it was nice to have at least one scene where we could enjoy the full-range of Mjölnir's might in all its glory.

The Loki-worshiping play is pretty great. The scene stars Matt Damon as Loki, Chris Hemsworth's own brother, Luke, as the God of Thunder, and Sam Neil as Odin. The soap opera-like drama of the performance is downright hilarious, as is the outing of Loki as the impostor King of Asgard.

Valkyrie's entrance into the film: They say you should start as you mean to go on, and Valkyrie started drunk. One of the things I love so much about this character is that, even when she's wasted, she still manages to be one of the biggest badasses in all of Sakaar.

Thor meets Doctor Strange inside the Sanctum Sanctorum: Although we were treated to a portion of this cameo sequence in the first post-credits scene for DOCTOR STRANGE, I really enjoyed seeing it in its entirety. I loved watching Thor bumble his way through the enchanted manor, particularly in the moments when he was teleported from room-to-room, by a playfully Machiavellian Dr. Stephen Strange. Plus, who doesn't love a never-ending beer stein? I'm putting that bad boy on my Christmas list.

Hela versus Everybody: If you want proof that Hela means business, you need look no further than the sequence in which she took out an entire Asgardian battalion single-handedly. I particularly dig her almost ballet-esque fighting style, especially in the moment when she cuts a fleet of nearby airships out of the sky, with a solitary throw.

Thor and Loki team up to escape Sakkar: "Get help" is a big hit, with me, as well as the moment when Thor finally bests his adopted brother by activating a paralyzer module he's attached to to the trickster's back.

The Sakaarian dogfight: I really dig the aerial battle sequence in which Thor and his Revengers are leaping from ship to ship. The efficiency with which the Odinson and Valkyrie dispatch the enemy fighters has me thinking that all those Asgardian gymnastics lessons were worth it, after all.

The Battle for Asgard along the Rainbow Bridge: Between Fenris Wolf, Hulk, Thor, Valkyrie, Heimdal, and a handful of Asgardian Randos, almost everyone gets in on this epic dog pile.

 

Loki: Hello, Bruce. 
Bruce Banner: Last time we saw you, you were trying to kill everyone. What are you up to these days? 
Loki: It varies from moment to moment.

Loki: I have been falling... for 30 minutes!

Bruce Banner: [regarding Loki] I was just talking to him just a couple minutes ago and he was totally ready to kill any of us. 
Valkyrie: He did try to kill me. 
Thor: Yes, me too. On many, many occasions. There was one time when we were children, he transformed himself into a snake, and he knows that I love snakes. So, I went to pick up the snake to admire it and he transformed back into himself and he was like, "Yeah, it's me!". And he stabbed me. We were eight at the time.

Valkyrie: This team of yours, it got a name? 
Thor: Yeah, it's called the... uh... Revengers!

Thor: Damn you, Stark. Point Break. 
Quinjet Computer: Welcome, Point Break.

Bruce Banner: Guys, we're coming up on the Devil's Anus.

Grandmaster: I didn't hear any thunder, but out of your fingers - was that sparkles?

Thor: Hey, hey! We know each other! He's a friend from work!

Grandmaster: Revolution? How did this happen?
Topaz: Don't know. But the Arena's mainframe for the Obedience Disks have been deactivated and the slaves have armed themselves.
Grandmaster: Ohhh! I don't like that word!
Topaz: Mainframe?
Grandmaster: No. Why would I not like "mainframe?" No, the "S" word!
Topaz: Sorry, the "prisoners with jobs" have armed themselves.
Grandmaster: Okay, that's better.

Korg: Ah, yeah. This whole thing is a circle. Not a real circle, more like a freaky circle.

Grandmaster: Why are you handing me the Melt Stick? He was interrupting. That's not a capital violation.

Loki: What have I done? 
Heimdall: You saved us from extinction. Asgard is not a place, it's a people.

The Grandmaster is the brother of The Collector from GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. In the past, Jeff Goldblum has said that he'd love to film a spinoff movie featuring the two sycophantic siblings with Benicio del Toro. I don't know about you, but the sheer absurdity of that idea only makes me want to see it more.

Valkyrie's bounty hunter label, "Scrapper 142," could be a reference to the Marvel comic book The Incredible Hulk #142. While that issue does not count as the character's first appearance, it includes the debut of a version of the character.

In the comics, Hulk becomes a gladiator of Sakaar as part of his Planet Hulk storyline. In the series, Hulk does not fight Thor, but rather the Silver Surfer.

If you're a fan of the Marvel character Beta Ray Bill, you might want to keep your eyes peeled for a bust of him in the tower where Hulk takes his hot tub sessions. In the comics, Beta Ray Bill is a champion of the Korbinite race, whose task it is to lead his people on their journey toward a new home. After lots of comic book shenanigans, Bill picks Mjölnir up off the ground and gains the power of Thor.

If you take a look at the iconic cover for Journey Into Mystery #83, the comic featuring Thor's first apperance, one of the creatures Thor's is smashing with his hammer is Korg.

During the film's first post-credits sequence, we see what could arguably be Thanos' ship. While it's never been officially confirmed, I would not be surprised if Marvel includes this scene as a part of AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. By the way Marvel,  we all know it's Thanos' ship. I mean c'mon.

Surtur arrives in the film as the ruler of Muspelheim. Said to one day lead an apocalyptic event on Asgard known as Ragnarok, Surtur draws his power from an all-powerful element known as the Eternal Flame. During the finale of Ragnarok, Loki summons Surtur by tossing his crown into the Eternal Flame, thereby triggering the events of Ragnarok, as foretold.   

Skurge enters Ragnarok as the Asgardian warrior tasked with presiding over the Bifrost Bridge, a position formally held by the all-seeing and all-hearing Heimdall (Edris Elba). After it was revealed that Loki had been ruling Asgard, Skurge finds himself fired from the position, and busted down to one of the lowest Asgardians on the totem poll. Once Hela arrives in Asgard, she presents Skurge with the opportunity to become her personal Executioner. Seeing the invitation as a way to regain his authority, Skurge accepts Hela's offer, though quickly discovers that he hasn't the stomach for her particular brand of genocidal violence.

Valkyrie is introduced in the film as an Asgardian who was once part of a fierce group of female warriors known as the Valkyrie. After being defeated by Hela, many years before the events of Ragnarok, Valkyrie escaped to Sakaar where she established herself as a ruthless bounty hunter. After capturing Thor, Valkyrie sells him to an eccentric ruler by the name of The Grandmaster. After reconnecting with her warrior roots, Valkyrie agrees to join the God of Thunder's Revengers initiative, in an effort to retake the throne from Hela. 

The Grandmaster is the quirky overseer of Sakaar and organizer of the Contest of Champions - a gladiator-style battle to the death in the Sakaaran Arena. If you were forced to describe one of this character's unique turn-ons, one could say that the Grandmaster delights in the manipulation of others, particularly if he finds those individuals beneath his station.  

Korg is a cordial Kronan warrior who greets Thor upon his being enlisted as a combatant in the Grandmaster's Contest of Champions. Anxious to one day join a revolution and win his freedom, Korg fights alongside Thor and his Revengers as they make their escape from Sakaar. Korg typically travels with his pal Miek, an insectoid warrior also forced to participate in the Contest of Champions.

Doctor Strange makes a rather satisfying, albeit brief cameo in the movie. After getting word that Thor and Loki has returned to Migard (Earth), Doctor Strange aids the Odinson in locating his missing father, Odin, but only after Thor promises to take Loki far away from the sorcerer's New York home.

Stan Lee appears as a Sakaarian barber in the film. He gives a reluctant Thor a wickedly butchered yet-still-stylish new doo, moments before the Odison steps into the arena to face the Grandmaster's champion, the Incredible Hulk.

A long time ago, Hela Odinsdottir was appointed the Asgardian Goddess of Death and the former Executioner of Asgard.. After being imprisoned for a millennia by her father, Odin, Hela broke free of her incarceration promptly after the his death. Upon her fated return, the estranged heir claims the thrown of Asgard as her own, while siphoning energy from the enchanted realm to power her array of deadly spells. With her loyal undead army and lieutenant Fenris Wolf at her side, Hela aims to tear Asgard asunder and establish a new Empire. After finding her subjects unwilling to bend the knee, Hela begins slaughtering her own people en masse with the help of a self-serving Asgardian by the name of Skurge. As Hela's new Executioner, Skurge joins his new Queen in her bid to subjugate Asgard first, and then all the realms thereafter. Before long, Thor arrives with his team of Revengers to put an end to Hela's destructive rule. As the battle rages on, Loki unleashes Surtur, thereby bringing about Ragnarok. With Asgard destroyed, Hela is thereby stripped of her power, and presumably destroyed with it.

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Source: Joblo

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