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The Reviews are In: Thor Ragnarok is a Contender

Thor is hammerless and hairless, Loki is still a trickster, and a new sibling is threatening to take over Asgard. It’s time for a new Thor film, and frankly, I’ve missed the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The last film the universe has churned out was Spider-Man: Homecoming in July, and that film, with its attention to humor and detail, paved the way for the newest Thor installment. 

Note: If you haven’t seen the film, beware of spoilers ahead. You should stop reading now, unless you don’t care about spoilers, in which case, keep reading and live your life. 

Favorite line of the film: “Piss off, ghost! (Beat) He’s freaking gone.”

The first thing I noticed about the film is that, unlike the other two Thor films, which are heavy on the “Fish out of water” theme and take place primarily on Earth, this one finds a much more heroic and focused Thor and takes place on two planets: Asgard and Sakaar, a lawless planet run by Jeff Goldblum’s The Grandmaster. Thor keeps having a recurring dream that he references throughout the opening of the film in which Asgard is burning and being destroyed. We come to learn that this is the prophecy known as Ragnarok, during which the fire monster Surtur is set to destroy Asgard with the help of his eternal-flame empowered “tiara.” When the film begins, Thor is trying to stop this from happening, but when Odin dies (which is as anticlimactic as it is expected), he reveals a family secret in the form of Hela, Thor and Loki’s older sister and the goddess of death. The story goes that she and Odin conquered the nine realms together and Odin became afraid of her growing power. He used the mythological Valkyries to force her into a cage that would only open when he perished. No one knew about her because the Valkyries were all said to have been killed in the battle, and yet, Hela was still imprisoned somehow. 

Before Odin does, however, Thor discovers that his brother Loki, who supposedly died in the last film, is still alive. Loki exiles his father to earth and takes is face and his throne to rule over Asgard. He enjoys garden parties and theater until Thor comes in and unveils Loki for the trickster he is. The two embark on a journey to find their father, meet someone else from the MCU along the way, and they find out about Hela before their father dies. The two wind up in a portal to Asgard with Hela, but she manages to kick them out and they both land on the planet of Sakaar, while Hela continues onto Asgard and with her plan to take it over as its new queen. 

Then, the fun begins. 

I don’t want to spoil everything, so I’ll stop summarizing there, but the first thing that struck me about this film is how funny it is. Right out of the gate, the film hits with humorous gags that continue throughout the film. Even if you don’t like MCU films, the humor alone would be worth the price of the ticket. The director cameos as Korg, who in my opinion, is the greatest addition to a Marvel film ever. 

Also, being a MCU film, there are many Easter eggs and references to past films and future films scattered throughout. Not to mention, there are some really incredible cameos by such actors as Matt Damon, Liam Hemsworth, and of course Stan Lee.  Don’t miss them! 

The post-credit scenes are also worth sticking around for if you’re interested in receiving hints for the upcoming Infinity War film, out in May 2018. 

The other thing I really liked about this film was the female representation. Cate Blanchett plays Hela and Tessa Thompson plays the lone Valkyrie survivor. Blanchett plays the villain, but she is neither unique nor complex. While this sounds like a negative outlook on her portrayal, it’s not. Blanchett plays the villain brilliantly, but it’s nice to see a female villain written as simplistically as male villains often are. In these types of films, the male villain has one goal: take over the world, and they don’t tend to have ulterior motives for that goal. (There are always exceptions to this, but in general, that is the stereotype of male villains in superhero films.) Female villains, on the other hand, tend to be fighting for emotional reasons (revenge, heartbreak, sadness, etc.). But, in this film, we have a female villain who simply wants to take over the world. That’s it. While she may be upset with her father for locking her in a cage, she isn’t hellbent on getting back at him for some sort of daddy issue resolving revenge kick. She just wants to take her rightful place as ruler. Simple, but very effective. 

The lone Valkyrie is similarly characterized as a human being. When we first meet her, she falls over drunk after chugging a beer. She is not overly sexualized and she is written and portrayed with levels of insecurities, flaws, and badass traits as well. She is not a simple love interest, and while her character is much more complex than Hela, she is another example of a human character rather than a female character. Both women are portrayed as human beings rather than a hypersexualized or hyper-emotional women, and to me, that’s progress. 

Overall, the film was a great addition to the MCU. I thoroughly enjoyed the humorous additions to a superhero film, and I hope these kinds of post-modern meta behavior continues into the rest of the MCU and beyond. 

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