I didn’t see any of the previous THOR movies, so I went into this one blind. I can admit with no shame, that superhero movies just aren’t my thing. I don’t hate them. They just aren’t on my radar. THOR: RAGNAROK (2017) is the third standalone Thor movie and 17th in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). That means they’re all connected in one twisted way or another, and that’s fine because it’s nice to see old friends pop up in unexpected places.
In terms of the trailer, let’s get a few things out of the way – yes, that’s the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) in a gladiator helmet, and it’s a rather significant part of the storyline. Yes, that’s Loki (Tom Middleton), even though *I guess* it appeared he dies in the Thor: The Dark World (2013), then there are two new formidable women, and a bunch of explosions.
It occurs to me that this sums up pretty much every MCU movie (reappearing heros, explosions, chicks) but we’ll break it down.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds himself on Sakaar, run by Master Blaster villain, and all around Silver Fox, Jeff Goldblum. Remember the Master Blaster from the Kidd Video cartoons of the late 80’s – Goldblum’s all over that channeling like a dirty shirt. Since there’s no escaping Sakaar (ho-ho!) Thor is forced to fight the current Grand Champion – and the hint is the distinctive green party smoke shot into the air. We’ll find out how Hulk ended up on Sakaar later, but first, they need to find a way off the planet to save Asgard – currently being held together by Asgard gatekeeper, Heimdall (Idris Elba). He doesn’t have a lot to do, but what he does is important work. Yes, I would love to see Elba in a bigger part, saving the world and getting his face on a lunchbox.
I’d carry it.
Cate Blanchette plays Hela – and she’s a slinky piece of work. With long black hair that becomes war antlers when she’s mad, she’s stronger than Thor and Loki combined, and that’s a significant problem because she’s tearing up Asgard. She has a distinctive history with the planet and with Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and she’s very single-minded about her goals.
I didn’t forget Tessa Thompson, who’s a hard-drinking scrapper on Sakaar earning favor with Grand Master Jeff. She brings him all the best stuff, including Thor. Her role is especially meaty, and initially, she’s only referred to by a number designation – names are for things you care about, right? Then her role is revealed and if you’re a fan you’ll cheer. If you’re not a fan, you’ll still cheer because what woman doesn’t want to be ONE OF THOSE, with a sword and a flying horse, and the liver of a 20-year old.
Look, you’re not deep into the MCU because of the thought-provoking storylines and strict attention to social issues. You are there to watch Thor get all lightningy and Loki to be all slimy and Hulk to be right ALL THE TIME or he’ll smash you. I mean it’s Chris Hemsworth – and his Thor is a charming, muscle-kissing meathead with a heart of gold. He also has to be right, he has to win, and you’re okay with his carefully crafted re-telling of events. He’s my favorite unreliable narrator. Plus he removes his shirt in one scene, and I honestly can’t remember any of the dialogue for like 6 minutes after. I don’t think anything significant happened.
It’s an MCU film so stay for the credits, even and especially when you think the credits are over. Stay, chat with your seatmates, pick the popcorn out of your shirt – and watch. Something is coming, but we’ll probably have to wait until 2018 to find out what it is. If you’re a knee-deep fan you probably already know, but I don’t, and I’m excited.
And that’s how you make fans, right? Give them what they weren’t expecting and make them want more.
THOR: RAGNAROK is rated PG-13 for comic book violence, Thor getting the crap kicked out of him, and a really, really big dog that tries to eat Hulk.