Despite the massive success of 2012’s Avengers, not every member of the superhero team was popular with audiences. Thor stuck out like a sore thumb. So much so that he was only in the sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron, for less than 20 total minutes.
While the God of Thunder may have been the heir apparent to the Asgardian throne, Thor and it’s sequel Thor: The Dark World were some of the lowest grossing and also lowest critically appreciated films in the MCU.
It’s safe to say that the character was in dire need of a soft reboot and that’s exactly what Marvel Studios and the director Taika Waititi did with this month’s Thor: Ragnarok. Let’s take a look at 15 reasons why Thor: Ragnarok is the best Thor movie yet!
15. There’s No Jane…
Besides perhaps the tone of the films, the biggest criticism from the first two Thor films was the relationship between Odin’s son and Jane. Portrayed by Natalie Portman, Jane never really felt like a good fit for Thor — I mean, Hello?!? Sif?!? AMIRITE!?!? The lack of chemistry between Portman and Hemsworth was palpable enough to bring the films down with them.
In the comics, especially during his heyday of Jack Kirby’s amazing visuals, Thor was someone who traveled the universe fighting evil and apparently taking copious amounts of LSD. So, when he kept ending up on Earth because he “fell in love” with a woman he met like twice, hardcore fans grew frustrated.
Also, Jane was the tired “Damsel in Distress” trope that moviegoers don’t really dig anymore. Some fans were psyched to hear that they had broken up. Their breakup was only important enough for a throwaway line early in the film.
14. It Goes Full on Cosmic!
When the first trailers for Thor: Ragnarok were released, people couldn’t help but notice that the film had a similar color palette to the other cosmic entity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Guardians of the Galaxy. While the first two Thor movies did dabble in the cosmic, those films were firmly rooted either on Earth or Asgard.
That changed with Ragnarok as both Thor and Loki ended up being tossed from the Bifrost, ending up on Sakaar, a planet mentioned in the first Guardians of the Galaxy — Drax refers to Sakaarans as “Paper People.” Sakaar is basically the junkyard of the entire universe, with multiple wormholes dumping space wreckage and people to the planet.
It is ruled by an Elder of the Universe in Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster. Speaking of that character, he’s actually the brother of The Collector from the first Guardians of the Galaxy film. It goes to show how the movies are all tied together and were well planned.
One of the best new characters in the film is Korg, a funny alien gladiator voiced and mo-capped by Waititi himself. Considering how the film ends it’d be amazing to see him interacting with Groot, Rocket and Drax come next year’s Avengers: Infinity War.
13. It’s a True Ensemble Film
Like an organic masterpiece, Thor, Loki, Odin and Hela are all part of the same family dealing with feelings of abandonment, jealousy and betrayal. Hulk and Valkyrie have their own issues to deal with. Valkyrie deals with survivor’s guilt after battling a genocidal Hela, who then banished her from Asgard.
Thor tried to connect with Banner, using Black Widow’s method of soothing the Hulk with the “The sun’s getting real low…” speech that was both funny and touching. When the video of Widow doing it comes up in the Quinjet, the Hulk finally turns back into Banner.
Typically, Loki is the strongest character in the Thor films. Yet, because this film delved deeper into all its characters motivations, he blended in better with the others. Shouts out to Chris Hemsworth; his amazing comedic timing and skills in this film have turned him into the new most popular member of the Avengers. Go figure.
12. It’s Got Real Stakes
*SPOILER ALERT* What makes Thor: Ragnarok so much more exciting than the films before it are the following things: Odin dies; Thor loses Mjolnir; Thor unleashes his full power; he finally gives up on Loki and; oh yeah, Asgard is completely destroyed by Surtur.
On top of that, in the post-credit scene, it appears that a huge Klingon-like ship — probably Thanos’ — intercepts the ship full of Asgardians. And if the description of the Avengers: Infinity War trailer from D23 is true, then there could be even more deaths coming in the MCU.
Considering that next year is the first Infinity War film, it makes sense but it’ll still be hard to watch after a decade of getting invested in these characters. In a good way.
11. It Embraces its Roots
Speaking of the LSD-fueled trips (literally) through the Universe that the classic Thor books brought us on, it was never really the aesthetic of the films up until Ragnarok. There were countless backgrounds, especially on Sakaar, that were literally ripped right from the pages of Kirby-era Thor.
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 had a similar color palette and it appears as if Thor Ragnarok was a combination of that palette along with some of the earliest Thor books. Besides the visuals, there were also allusions to several famous storylines from the books, including the Unworthy Thor, and Hela representing Death in the comics.
Also, Skurg and his machine guns blocking the bridge. There was even an allusion to Loki turning Thor into Throg — the Thor Frog. It appears that the further the MCU gets into its planned storylines, the more they delve into the comics not only for stories but for aesthetics as well.
10. Hulk Speaks!
For the longest time in the comics, Hulk has been able to communicate with the rest of the Avengers. Yet, since his debut in Incredible Hulk in 2008, Hulk has been mostly mute with a few sentences spoken here and there — and his trademark “HULK! SMASH!”
So, they definitely made us wait and it was worth it. Hulk was hilarious, and while more intelligent than he’d been before, he still basically had the personality of a toddler. Besides how cool it was to see it is actually a lot more exciting than just Hulk talking. This could mean that we could get to see the different kinds of Hulk that have existed over the years.
From the Joe “Fixit” Hulk to even Kluh, there are many different types of Hulk existing within Bruce Banner. Considering how powerful Thanos is going to be with the assembled Infinity Gauntlet perhaps it’s time that Hulk takes over. That’d be amazing.
9. It’s A “Buddy Comedy”
*SPOILER ALERT* We actually got a big hint when the first media was released by Marvel Studios, that Thor 3 would be a new take on 1980’s sci-fi/action films. And that’s really what this film feels like: a buddy comedy from the 80’s.
From movies like Tango and Cash or even the Lethal Weapon franchise, you get a distinct feeling of a neo-buddy comedy starring Thor and the Hulk. Hulk stole every scene that he was in. Since the first Avengers both Thor and Hulk have had a friendly rivalry so it was fun to see them go toe to toe in the arena on Sakaar — even if Thor was without Mjolnir, his trusty hammer.
Their banter is hilarious — with Hulk as well as Bruce Banner.
8. It Stands Alone
As these films become more and more and their respective universes grow larger and larger as well, it becomes harder and harder for each film to really do it’s own thing without changing the status quo. Still, you’re able to watch Ragnarok without needing to have seen the other 15-plus MCU films — or really even the other Thor films — to understand what’s going on.
While it would be of benefit to you and you’d enjoy it more, it’s not essential, and that’s really the balance that Marvel has been able to hit in recent years.
7. It’s Funny!
When the title of the third Thor movie was announced all the way back in 2014, it was assumed that it’d be a dark and gloomy affair for a couple of reasons. First, as has been repeated in this piece multiple times, Ragnarok is the end of the world in Norse Mythology. On top of that, while the first Thor movie had it’s moments, they were some of the more glum affairs in the MCU.
The original was directed by Kenneth Branagh and set up the frnachise as a Shakespearean family feud. Waititi then came on board and flipped the script. He infused awkward self-aware humor in Ragnarok.
Waititi has said that up to 80 per cent of the film was improvised. The cast seemed comfortable in their roles — Hemsworth, Hopkins and Hiddleston have played them for almost a decade at this point — and Ragnarok feels less stuck up its own butt than it’s predecessors.
While the film does have some incredibly dramatic moments as well, the humor is brilliant and helps keep things both light and exciting. It’s basically the new standard for space-based comic book properties, and it’s a delight that shows the MCU is somehow getting better 10 years into the game!
6. It’s Not Just About Loki
The Thor franchise — though considered the weakest — has had the best villains in the MCU — Malekith notwithstanding. The Destroyer was amazing in the first film but was mainly just a vehicle through which Loki’s jealousy, anger, sadness and evil flowed — the reason people first fell for Loki.
Loki’s appearance in Avengers was amazing as well. He basically became the most important part of the Thor franchise from a fans perspective. However, with Loki appearing in Ragnarok and apparently both double-crossing and helping Thor, people were worried that this film would be yet another Thor and Loki adventure.
So, when a third sibling was introduced in Hela, it overshadowed any problems that Thor and Loki had. The elevator scene glossed over that dynamic. Thor admitted that he no longer believes in his brother and doesn’t really care to.
5. The Villain
A major complaint against MCU films has been the villains. That really doesn’t seem to be the case here. Just as nasty as Loki was in Avengers, Hela feels betrayed as the firstborn — and thus the actual rightful heir to the throne. She was banished by her father Odin, after she became too ambitious and hungry to conquer the universe.
She was powerful enough to pose an indomitable threat to the heroes. She destroyed Mjolnir without as much as batting an eye. And while she did “die” at the end, there’s a ton of reasons to think that she’ll be back for Avengers: Infinity War — she is the Goddess of Death, after all.
Considering she’s a top three MCU villain of all-time — which includes Loki — hers is one death fans won’t gripe about being retconned should she return next year.
4. The Action
From the outset, it was clear that this was a different type of Thor movie. The film starts with Thor in chains, “stuck” in the realm of Surtur, the fire demon. As Thor fights to stop Surtur and his minions, he shows how powerful he can be — this is before he reaches full power, mind you. He uses Mjolnir to destroy hundreds of minions.
It was the first time in three films that you really understood how powerful Thor is — one of the biggest gripes some people have had. So, seeing Thor bleed or get knocked over was always something that irked some as he should be powerful enough to take out an entire wave of Ultron bots on his own.
Besides that amazing intro there were just countless amazing fight scenes. Thor vs. Hulk, Hulk vs. Fenrir, Hela vs. the Asgardian Army, Hela vs. the Valkyries — it’s just amazing fight after fight, and it’s done in such a style that it feels like something you’ve never seen before.
3. The Visuals
From Asgard to Sakaar, the film shows how Marvel is going to proceed with its cosmic universe. It’s was really great to see Thor with some color and humor as opposed to the drab sadness that was Thor: The Dark World.
Now, granted, it was titled “The Dark World” and the entire plot was about a MacGuffin that could turn regular matter into anti-matter, but still, with an Infinity Stone that’s bright red and has that power in the film, you’d think that we would’ve gotten some amazing visuals.
One thing we did get a peek of during The Dark World was the realm of Surtur, which Thor visits at the beginning of Ragnarok. The distinctive difference between realms was also very palpable and beautiful and was just another small detail that made this film so perfect.
2. It’s as much a Hulk Movie as it is a Thor Movie
What makes the film so great is that it was Marvel’s way of getting around the whole solo Hulk film debacle they’ve had to deal with since 2008’s Incredible Hulk.
Back before Marvel Studios was acquired by Disney, they partnered with different distributors to release their films. One of those distributors was Universal, which helped them release Incredible Hulk the same summer as the first Iron Man.
They signed a contract with Universal, agreeing to split whatever profit they’d make on a future solo Hulk movie. As it’s been explained by Bruce Banner himself, Mark Ruffalo, Thor: Ragnarok was essentially the first film in an upcoming Hulk trilogy. Though unconfirmed, the Infinity War films could be one (or both) of them.
In other news, director Taika Waititi has said that he’d love to direct the Black Widow solo film. Considering the relationship that she has with Banner/Hulk, you’d think that the combination of Ruffalo/Waititi and Johansson coming together sounds too good to be true.
1. What it Means…
Asgard is destroyed at the end of the film when Thor gives Surtur back his head along with the power of the Eternal Flame from Odin’s Trophy Room. In the comics Asgard was also destroyed and moved to the rural Midwest.
While that’s implied at the end of the movie, it may not be what actually happens as the first teaser for next year’s Avengers: Infinity War shows the Guardians of the Galaxy literally running into an unconscious Thor floating through space among a ton of wreckage from a ship.
That could mean that the ship that the Asgardians run into during the post-credit scene does, in fact, destroy the ship and kills everyone aboard — including Loki and… Gasp… Korg?!? NO! Considering that that ship may belong to Thanos and the fact that Loki has the Space Stone in his possession, that’s a strong possibility.
Besides that, there were new characters introduced — the aforementioned Korg — deaths to characters — Odin, The Warriors Three (not Sif) — Hela (?) — and the loss of a major weapon in Mjolnir.
Also, now that Thor is at his full potential, power-wise, it’ll be nice to see him wreck shop next year.