This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.
17. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
"Let me explain something, my hair is not to be meddled with." Thor, to Doctor Strange.
Taika Waititi is likely never in the MCU without James Gunn, but James Gunn never just evolves on his own into Waititi either. This level of humor and camp is a wonderful addition to the universe but the vast majority of the credit for that is due to Taika. That, and Chris Hemsworth's comedic timing.
The line above about Thor's hair could have been how Feige treated the character of Thor too. If it ain't broke, and what not.
But to allow for reinvention, rebirth, that is what allows for a multi-generational story. It's one of the reasons why Hemsworth isn't riding off into the sunset, and unlike Cap and Iron Man, we have adventures still to enjoy with the god of Thunder.
This film has my single favorite score of any Marvel movie as well, though Black Panther that followed it is pretty close. I’m a big fan of lots of 80’s sci-fi, fantasy and horror films that were scored with a single synthesizer and this film leans heavily into that feeling (while giving it full production value as well as accompanying it with a double dose of The Immigrant Song). The most interesting part to me is the fact that it still incorporates the established Thor themes from the previous films as well as even hinting at the Lonely Man theme from the Incredible Hulk tv show with Bill Bixby. That had been woven into The Incredible Hulk film featuring Ed Norton as well, but it was very unexpected here. The combination (the music, the outlandish characters like Korg and The Grandmaster) fit together to make this feel not like Thor in a different movie, but an edge of the Thor universe that we just hadn’t seen before. Unfamiliar and yet not wholly foreign. It is an unfathomable difficult job to thread this needle, and Waititi and his team have done it here almost perfectly.
For god sakes, there is a firework-shooting Orgy ship that plays pretty heavily into the final battle and when it starts going off the last time, you almost can’t help but cheer. This is not a low difficulty set of maneuvers on display, this is expert craftsmanship.
The most interesting thing about Ragnarok in the end (other than the fact that Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster is still alive to menace our heroes and delight the audience again in the future), is that even knowing Infinity War was coming (the mid-credits sequence makes it clear what is about to happen to the surviving Asgardians), I was still very excited by the narrative possibilities of the Thor franchise. When Captain America: Civil War ended, I wasn’t really hungry for another Cap adventure. When Iron Man 3 ended, I wasn’t jonesing for another outing with JUST Tony and Pepper (and Rhodey). BUT as the Asgardians acknowledged their new King and headed off into space in search of a new home, I was JACKED UP about what came next for Thor, Korg, Valkeryie and their friends.
As we sit, post Endgame, knowing that those paths are diverging with Thor headed to space again and Valkeryie leading the Asgardians in Norway, I honestly want to follow BOTH stories. I would love to see some Thor space adventures without his weighty resposibilities of the crown or kingdom concerning him. Let’s introduce Beta Ray Bill finally (his horse face was seen on the Grandmaster’s palace under the newly added Hulk head, but an easter egg isn’t enough)! Have Thor learning about the Celestials (The Grandmaster, The Collector and Ego are all Celestials either as described in the films so far or from their comics past. With the Eternals coming soon, maybe we’ll get this story a different way. But with the humor that Thor’s character is capable of, you can use him as a vehicle to introduce some truly out there ideas.
The Living Tribunal for instance was originally considered to show up on Titan in the battle towards the end of Infinity War (pre-snap). This is one of those cosmic characters from the comics that is part of the fabric of reality, basically a stand-in for a big G god as opposed to the gods and goddesses like Thor that we’re sort of used to. This stuff plays great in the comics, especially to philosophy-minded pre-teen and teen boys, but the Russo’s thought just hinting at an entire new level to the cosmic hierarchy was a step too far for the average audience. I agree, and yet, I absolutely want to see Eternity, the Tribunal, the Watchers etc all explored in depth on screen at somepoint. Maybe goofy Thor as revealed to us by Taika is the answer to that particular narrative problem.