I grew up reading comic books and was firmly in the Marvel camp, more specifically with the X-Men.
For the last couple years, I haven’t watched any Marvel movies (save for the X-Men movies, but they’re in their own bubble universe). It wasn’t for lack of desire. I just missed them at the theater, and then I missed them at home, and before I knew it, I was like seven movies behind. I wasn’t going to jump back in with the latest at that point, and the new ones kept coming out.
So the lady and I have been catching up, and we finally got to Thor: Ragnarok. I liked it. It was fun. Trouble is I feel like the filmmakers did everything they could to not make a Thor movie while making a Thor movie. I don’t think they were subtle about this (there is no other reason for them to cut Thor’s hair than for it to be symbolic).
Now, I’m not upset because of some perceived unfaithfulness in the film. I was never much of a Thor fan and couldn’t tell you if this was faithful to the comics. I do think Thor: Ragnarok is entertaining and deserves credit for pushing the boundaries to experiment with a hero and a genre of film that’s probably beginning to suffer from popular weariness.
All things considered, though, I just think Thor: Ragnarok is not that good of a movie.
I know. Virtually everyone who’s pestered me these last couple of years because I fell behind on the Marvel movies has specifically called out this one as the crown jewel. I just can’t agree. I still have Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Ant-Man 2 to go, but in my opinion, that title still belongs to Captain America: Winter Soldier.
Thor: Ragnarok’s shortcomings are not due to anything with regard to how satisfying and pleasant the experience is if you’re not taking it too seriously. Trouble is I don’t do not taking it too seriously. Thor: Ragnarok’s shortcomings are due to the filmmakers attempt to make you have so much fun you forget about or don’t notice they didn’t think about some things enough or even at all. For the most part, I think they were successful with the tactic, but I found myself part way through going, “Wait a damn second… .”
I was just thoroughly confused by how little they thought about the story in this movie, so what follows is my review in question format. Spoilers for sure.
When and how did Dr. Strange get more powerful than Loki, God of Mischief, and seriously, did nobody on that Manhattan street corner see Loki get sucked into the ground? Not a single person? Just a second ago, the filmmakers made a point of demonstrating people could, in fact, see Thor and recognize him and even take a selfie with him. Furthermore, if Dr. Strange is so powerful as to just put any threat to Earth in a dimension of never-ending free fall, what, exactly, do we have to worry about?
Yo, Odin, god of gods, just died from seemingly nothing. Just gone, poof, literally turned to dust and floated away for no reason. Are we seriously not going to talk about this?
So the bifrost can cut the head off a dragon, but Hela can get into it no problem? I get that she’s powerful, but that’s a bit of a juvenile understanding of how power works. It’s not just like she has power so she can, therefore, do anything.
Okay, seriously, how did Thor not take even one bullet from that ED-209 trick?
Did the filmmakers forget time on trash planet moves slower relative to other planets? I mean, that was a rule they established to explain how Loki had infiltrated the society so quickly, but did they really need to do that if they were going to forget about it later when Thor makes Bruce think he’s been the Hulk for two years when he actually hasn’t (kind of a dick move, bro) and they get to Asgard and Hela hasn’t ruled it for months? I mean, this is Loki, God of Mischief we’re talking about. Infiltrating and manipulating societies is what he does. I wouldn’t have questioned it. Instead, they contrived the time dilation because they needed a neat effect of the black hole that exists within the worm hole on the surface of a planet (without destroying it…somehow) that takes them to Asgard, and the filmmakers put that black hole there to explain why the trash people aren’t invading Asgard if they have a worm hole that takes them there, but if they can build ships that can make it through the worm hole, they have the means to traverse it, and what are the odds a worm hole opens up on a planet and leads to Asgard, and if slim, who put it there and why, and why couldn’t they just think of some other way to get our heroes to Asgard?
Why aren’t the trash planet people throwing their trash into that convenient black hole?
Why doesn’t Bruce Banner understand the nature of black holes and worm holes, and considering how implausible the existence of this thing is, how could he just identify it so quickly with his naked eye? On the topic of Bruce Banner, he suspects the next time he turns into the Hulk, he’ll be stuck like that? Why? What is his scientific theory beyond him just having that feeling? I mean, this movie makes a point of reminding us Bruce Banner has seven (7) PhD’s (because it serves a joke), so surely a guy that smart has a theory. I get that he got stuck as the Hulk in the comic books and maybe the filmmakers wanted to do that in the movies, and that’s fine, but that’s kind of a big deal for the character, so maybe dedicate more film time than just introducing it and shrugging it off. I get that they don’t have the rights to give the Hulk his own film, but come on. He’s worth more here than “I feel like the next time I change is the last time.”
Speaking of the Hulk, who thought the modulation on his voice was acceptable? It sounds like a computer is speaking for him, and I know that’s almost literally true, but you’re making a big-budget film here. You couldn’t do any better than auto-tuning Mark Ruffalo’s voice into oblivion?
Why don’t we care that the movie unceremoniously discards Thor’s best friends? Why doesn’t Thor care? Why are they even there in the first place when they could have and probably would have been assisting Heimdall instead? They’re important characters. They’ve been in like two movies already, and they’ve already demonstrated skepticism and rebelliousness to authority.
I love Karl Urban, but why introduce a new character as Hela’s executioner when she could have chosen one of Thor’s friends, and wouldn’t that have been much more interesting later in the movie when Thor has to confront that character? Maybe Lady Sif?
Speaking of, where the Hela is Lady Sif? Did she and Thor just mutually break up off screen like he did with Jane Foster, even though, thus far, those were the series’ two most important female characters? And are we really okay with this?
Heimdall’s dreadlocks are stupid. That’s not a question.
Did Thor really think he could break that window with that rubber ball, and if so, am I supposed to believe our hero is anything but a moron at this point in the film when his pure stupidity has been the butt of many of the jokes? I get it. It was great in the first film when the whole point was his naivety and ignorance to the way the world actually works outside of Asgard was endearing and funny. But now, it’s just embarrassing. Thor shouldn’t be this stupid for the sake of comedy. You literally have the “stupid Avenger” standing behind him if you want to do this gag.
Speaking of that window, if it was built to contain the Hulk, it’s even more of an issue, but assuming it wasn’t, why didn’t they build it to contain the Hulk? Furthermore, what idiot tries to put the Hulk inside of a prison cell at the top of a tower? Also, if this room wasn’t built to contain the Hulk, why didn’t Hulk break out a long time ago? I get that part of his story is he feels wanted on this planet whereas he did not on Earth, and that’s really powerful, but he’s still the Hulk. I can’t believe a hot tub and a red rubber ball is enough to keep him happy to live as a prisoner. Hulk smashes when he wants to, not when you tell him to, unless you’re Captain America.
If Hela gets her power from Asgard, same as Thor, and Asgard isn’t a place, it’s a people, isn’t it strange Hela seems okay with murdering all of the Asgardians, the source of her power? You’d think she’d find another way of forcing compliance than wholesale genocide because she’s ironically so powerful she’s apathetic to life. If she knows they’re the source of her power, there is nothing in the universe she cares more about. If she doesn’t know she gets her power from the people of Asgard, why not explore the possibility of just letting her murder everyone? Problem solved. And if it’s true these beings get their power from the Asgardian people, can we consider the moral implications of the power vampirism this society operates on? Enter capitalism allegory here? Furthermore, since that would be unacceptable, couldn’t our heroes simply evacuate all Asgardians without destroying the place and then kill Hela when she is weak? If Odin was the only thing holding her in exile originally, why the need to send the Valkyries to push her back? Wait, we know he went through periods of “Odin sleep” where he would be comatose for elongated periods of time. How come Hela didn’t break out during one of those? Or, if that’s why he had to send the Valkyries and the filmmakers thought of that, why not spend five words of dialogue exposition to establish it? Also, if she needs to be in Asgard or near the Asgardian people for her power, wouldn’t she have been powerless in exile? If the whole “Asgard isn’t a place” thing is not true and Odin made it up to manipulate Thor into believing he could win, aren’t Thor, Loki, and Heimdall now powerless with Asgard destroyed?
Is no one concerned that, to defeat the god of death, our heroes created a being more powerful than her and, presumably, that being is still alive? Was this really a good idea?
A big turning point in this film is Thor demonstrates he’s finally done trusting Loki, and Thor outsmarts him. That’s huge. But then, by the film’s resolution, Thor just trusts Loki again? Loki is even like, “you’re really going to trust me on Earth?” and Thor is like, “Yeah, it’ll be fine, bro.” That is diametrically in conflict with the entirety of the story you just told me.
At this point, you might think I hated Thor: Ragnarok. I didn’t. I just don’t think it’s great. I think it fails within the confines of the Thor series, and I think it fails as a Thor movie. I’m willing to forgive a lot of this stuff for, say, a Guardians of the Galaxy movie because their recklessness is a significant part of the point of their heroism. For Thor, it’s utterly out of character, and it’s fairly obvious the filmmakers made Thor: Ragnarok to be a cosmic buddy hero romp because two Thor movies had done just okay and they wanted a movie that would make a lot of money.
And I get it. It’s Hollywood, and it’s a business, and Marvel has found fun and entertaining is more important in that endeavor than meaning and depth. That isn’t a new concept.
However, in that light, Thor: Ragnarok is actually fascinating. Marvel made a Thor movie that wasn’t a Thor movie. It is fun, but it is really poorly written, using comedy to cover up its bad writing. From the outset, that is evident as Thor interrupts Surtur’s opening villain monologue because he is slowly turning on the chain. That’s funny.
In earnest, this opening scene and the rest of the movie seems not to be a legitimate Thor movie but a movie meant to mock Thor movies.
If there is one element to all of this that I really resent, it’s that the filmmakers deliberately did all of this, and we thanked them for it.