Thor: Ragnarok or Guardians of Asgard: vol. 3

Today we could write a movie critic talking of Thor : Ragnarok as the new generic Marvel movie, spreading the usual dominant ideology profoundly anchored in every single Disney production without an artistic soul, full of stereotypical characters and with a predictable plot. At least that is what we expected to write before seeing the movie. Indeed, the first two Thor movies were – let’s say it loud and clear – absolutely awful, probably the worst movies of the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe, which does not particularly shines for its artistic or cinematographic qualities. How could this third opus be something else than a guillotine, executing an already estropiated-born franchise, beaten by the movie industry up to a situation where we would not even dare looking at it ? Before the screening we have to admit that we considered as only answer a condescendent « it can’t be ». However, today we will unexpectedly defend a movie who is the very definition of the word « unexpected », a movie which proudly stands up in the middle of a place we knew as an inhabited wasteland : Yes, Thor : Ragnarok surprisingly is a good Marvel movie, Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 1 good. Bold statement you say ? Let’s break it down !

Firstly, you can note that we’ve specified it was a really good « Marvel movie » and not a really good « movie ». Without doubt, aesthetic-wise this movie does not stand out of the pack, it is rather classic and no real risks were taken. It still is a Marvel movie, and we will analyse it within the boundaries of its production context. Like we’ve already said, it would be pointless to write an umpteenth pamphlet about « how the MCU is a cancer to the 7th Art » because, besides the fact that we don’t completely agree with that, there are way too many of these out there.

Secondly, about the movie itself, we could say that Thor: Ragnarok is a complete rebirth of the God of Thunder’s franchise. Disney put on board Taika Waititi, director known for his specific and unparalleled humor (shown in What We Do In The Shadows, amazing comedy about New Zealand’s vampire community), enough unknown to us not to draw any particular suspicion. Forget that gloomy and pompous plot presented of the previous Thor movies. Then, add the musical director from Guardians of Galaxy, fill the set with rainbow neons and wrap everything in an outstanding mixture of jokes and you got it!

As we all know, a typical Marvel movie must resolve around some apocalyptic-end-of-everything event. The plot in this one is loosely written around the concept of mythological (and comics) Ragnarok, more or less – the end time. Hela (Cate Blanchett in emo version) – daughter of Odin and sister of Thor is released from her confinement. She is the goddess of death, she is angry, strong, and she is back to conquer whole universe (surprise!). She destroys Thor’s hammer, literally punches him into another dimension and wreaks havoc in Asgard. She basically has all the characteristics of a classic Thor-movie-villain. However, after a few scenes we figured out that this edginess, as cringy as possible, had an actual purpose:  Making fun of the “old Thor”, the one no one wanted to see ever again. A subversive Marvel movie that mocks the codes of his own genre and franchise? Incredible but true.

From this point, the plot basically splits in two. We watch Hela and her grim endeavor take over Asgard, and we see Thor being stranded somewhere in the universe on a junkyard planet. Planet which is just one big neon-comedy circus run by a freaky Grandmaster (perfectly depicted by Jeff Goldblum). It’s amazing how Chris Hemsworth is following this ridiculous plot, often balancing on a self-parody of what a Thor movie should represent and still maintaining good ol’ superhero values. Indeed, the whole movie weights between pompous and silly plot leaving the impression that the serious part is there just to show us the contrast between old movies and what we should foresee in the future for new Marvel movies. Some characters too are representative of this subversive aspect, like the Valkyrie played by Tessa Thompson, alcoholic and irresponsible, or Loki who is always the same Loki but who fails everything he does because he became too predictable.

Of course, this film is not perfect. It is still a Thor movie in the end. Full of unnecessary CGI and overloaded with jokes which sometimes are slightly too long. And finally, we’ve got the weird impression that during the writing of this movie, somewhere on the top floor of the Disney Corporation building a group of executives decided that every 30 minutes there should be an ultimate-badass fight scene (although for once they’re actually fun to watch).

Thor: Ragnarok is definitely one of the best movies from Marvel Studios in the recent years. Extremely entertaining and worth watching. However, can Marvel – who just dodged the huge concrete wall DC’s Justice League will probably crash into in a few weeks – continue like this without falling into the trap of constant auto-parody in its next movies? See you back in a few months for that!

The Authors

The article has been co-written by

Gabriel Ratano
Michal Macha