After the average outing that was Thor and the bottom tier outing that was Thor: The Dark World, Marvel’s God of Thunder was finally done right in a solo movie. Taika Waititi was the perfect storyteller to lean into the chaotic brilliance this character deserves. By spotlighting the ethereal anarchy of these characters, a colorful romp was born in Thor: Ragnarok.
Thor: Ragnarok shows that Marvel understands the experience of having siblings on an incredibly intimate level. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston as Thor and Loki respectively show the absolute best of themselves in every one of their scenes, especially when they appear together. The conflict balanced with the obvious love they feel for one another is the best we have seen from these two characters in all of their outings together. This duality is so true to life and anyone with siblings will recognize its authenticity instantly. Their lines and banter are top-tier Marvel content.
Tessa Thompson is an absolute revelation as Valkyrie. This is the best casting choice Marvel approved in many projects. Her character’s struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and addiction was a surprising choice for a Marvel movie. It was a realistic snapshot of a very real illness. Her character’s journey in the movie is among the most thrilling. Even when the character isn’t particularly likable, we root for her every step of the way.
Cate Blanchett is the best kind of Marvel villain as Hela. It was a brave choice to break away from established Marvel lore and include her character and story almost out of nowhere. A less talented storyteller combined with a less talented actress may not have been able to totally pull it off. Unfortunately, Hela joins the ranks of Marvel villains with a great setup and potential for days only to be dispatched before the movie’s end.
The Jeff Goldblum appearance could have been so egregious, and could have represented everything that is wrong with this franchise. However, Waititi had Goldblum lean into his own internal chaos and the result was immaculate. This is the most Jeff Goldblum character we’ve seen in so long, and if it works for you, it works perfectly. It’s totally possible we’ll see this character in a future installment, which may work out for the best.
Mark Ruffalo finally re-appears as the Hulk after last being seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The events of the movie are set in the aftermath. This movie finally allowed this character the duality of both Hulk and Bruce Banner. Much has been written about how this character is too dull to hold a solo movie and should only appear as part of an ensemble. In Thor: Ragnarok, Ruffalo proved how well he’s able to handle both characters, and with a small cast around him has a lot of potential to shine on his own.
Thor: Ragnarok, for all the fun it has (and that is a lot of fun), is at its heart a meditation on grief and loss that resonates. From Thor and Loki losing their father at the beginning, to Thor losing his hammer which is clearly a massive part of his life, to losing the veneer of the story they had been raised on, this family has clearly been through so much. Valkyrie comes to terms with the devastating loss she’s experienced in her past to reconnect with the best version of herself. Finally, the loss of Asgard leaving presumably thousands if not millions without a home was a crushing reminder of how temporary material things, including homes, can be.
Thor: Ragnarok really is the best of what a Marvel movie can be. It strikes an almost perfect balance between the other-worldly chaos with an emotional core that is sure to engage the heartstrings. This allows for a grounded story that inspires the imagination and lets us sit back and enjoy the ride. Marvel movies have never been for everyone. Thor: Ragnarok being the best of the genre is a crowd pleaser, and further fans’ adoration for a franchise that has swallowed everything in its path.
Thor: Ragnarok is available to stream on Disney+.