Smashing or Thor-ible?

Thor franchise gets a new face.

Jack Ward, Cartoonist

Thor’s third solo outing marks a turn in the tone of the character and the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise. Veering off into such a new direction is a risky move to pull for the most successful movie film series of all time. A box office failure will be a sign of fans not accepting the differences, but if it pays off, the studio will have changed the entire superhero genre forever.

“Thor: Ragnarok” begins with the title character being taken from his rightful place as king of Asgard and left to fend for himself on the savage planet Sakar. The friends of their ruler, The Grandmaster, can watch the brutal and intense gladiator matches between the enslaved contenders. Here, our hero is forced to either fight for his freedom or attempt an escape and get back home and save his people from Ragnarok, the prophesied “end of all things” as Hela, the goddess of death, plots to take over what she believes to be rightfully hers.

With such an outrageous plot, the film is entirely self-aware. Fans have long agreed that the Thor movies are generally the weakest of the MCU and it seems like Marvel has acknowledged this by turning the trilogy around by going full comedy. The jokes are nonstop, giving audiences a breath of fresh air after the past two very serious installments. The laughs aren’t the only upgrade to the tone in the film. The soundtrack has transitioned to a hard 80’s beat to match the neon costumes and makeup.

“Thor: Ragnarok” feels more like opening up an old comic book than watching today’s blockbuster. If that’s what Marvel’s going for, they hit the nail on the head with its lightheartedness and brighter color pallet.

Chris Hemsworth reprises his role as the the title hero and gives his best performance yet. He turned the previously stern Asgardian prince into a hot headed, self-proclaimed hero who is always looking for a way to show off his good looks and big muscles.

This new rendition of “Thor” is much more fitting for what Marvel is doing with their franchise than the old version would. That’s not to say the Aussie stole the show however. No one performance stood out over the rest in this well-written and acted feature with fresh new faces to the franchise like Tessa Thompson, Cate Blanchett, Karl Urban and Jeff Goldblum.

Blanchett takes the helm as Hela, the first female antagonist in the MCU. She does a fantastic job showing off her ruthlessness as a once powerful warlord seeking to reclaim power. Blanchett sells herself as an intimidating warrior and a welcome addition to what is for the most part an otherwise lackluster slew of the franchise villains.

Everyone in this star studded cast gets their time to shine in this comical space opera.

At this point, praising a Marvel movie for its jaw dropping action and unmatched special effects are expected and this new addition to the MCU doesn’t disappoint. In this cosmic setting where the producers chose to set Thor’s adventure, the animated battles and alien species appear as if they are actually there in front of their audience. This should be no surprise coming from the highest grossing film franchise of all time.

On the downside, Marvel proves that there can be too much of a good thing. While the comedy is the fun new face of Marvel, “Thor: Ragnarok” makes the same mistake as “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” with putting quantity over quality when it comes to the jokes. They are funny, for the most part, but the film will sacrifice a heartfelt moment for an attempt at a chuckle every chance it gets. A good laugh is always welcome in a movie like this, but at times it just feels like too much.

The writers are also guilty of going a bit too far with exposition. Karl Urban’s character Skurge feels like he is only in the movie to provide a few quips and be the on the receiving end of Cate Blanchett’s Hela’s lines that are really just her explaining her backstory to the audience. These are very minor faults of the film and are irrelevant compared to what else it has to offer but deserve to be addressed.

“Thor: Ragnarok” is no doubt the best of his three standalone movies and a top five contender for the MCU. It is a high recommendation and a must see for all comic book and superhero fans and is more than likely a look into the future of what is to come in the superhero genre.