Back on the old site, I wrote a few articles following a rewatch of the Marvel Cinamatic Universe. Here’s a new one
Title: Thor: Ragnarok
Director: Taika Waititi
Writer(s): Eric Pearson and the writing team of Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost
Characters created by: Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Roy Thomas, John Buscema, Sal Buscema, Greg Pak and Carlo Pagulayan
US Release Date: November 3, 2017
Budget: $180 million
Worldwide Box-office (as of December 3rd): $816.4 million
Returning characters: Thor, Loki, Odin, Heimdall, Fandrall, Hogun, Volstagg, Hulk, Doctor Strange, Black Widow (archive footage)
Summary: Two years after the battle at Sokovia, Thor has been unsuccessfully searching for the Infinity Stones, and is now imprisoned by the fire demon Surtur in Muspelheim. Surtur reveals that Thor’s father Odin is no longer on Asgard, and that the realm will soon be destroyed in the prophesied Ragnarök, once Surtur unites his crown with the Eternal Flame that burns in Odin’s vault. Thor defeats Surtur and claims his crown, believing he has prevented Ragnarök.
Thor returns to Asgard to find his brother Loki posing as Odin. Thor forces Loki to help him find their father, and with directions from Stephen Strange on Earth, they locate Odin in Norway. Odin explains that he is dying, and that his passing will allow his firstborn child, Hela, to escape from a prison she was sealed in long ago. Hela had been the leader of Asgard’s armies, and had conquered the Nine Realms with Odin, but had been imprisoned and written out of history after Odin feared that she had become too ambitious.
Odin subsequently dies, and Hela, released from her imprisonment, appears. She destroys Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, and when Thor and Loki attempt to flee through the Bifröst Bridge, she pursues them and forces them out into space to die. Hela arrives in Asgard, destroying its army and the Warriors Three; resurrects the ancient dead who once fought with her, including her giant wolf Fenris; and appoints the Asgardian Skurge as her executioner. She plans to use the Bifröst to expand Asgard’s empire, but Heimdall covertly steals the sword that controls the Bridge, and hides away with the rest of Asgard’s citizens.
Thor crash-lands on Sakaar, a garbage planet surrounded by wormholes. He is captured by a bounty hunter named Scrapper 142, and taken to serve as a gladiator for the planet’s ruler, the Grandmaster, with whom Loki has already become ingratiated. Thor recognizes 142 as one of the Valkyrior, a legendary force of female warriors who were killed defending Asgard from Hela long ago.
Thor is forced to compete in the Grandmaster’s Contest of Champions, facing his old friend the Hulk. Summoning lightning, Thor almost defeats the Hulk but the Grandmaster sabotages the fight to ensure the Hulk’s victory. Still enslaved, Thor attempts to convince Hulk and 142 to help him save Asgard, but neither is willing. He soon manages to escape the palace and finds the Quinjet that brought Hulk to Sakaar. Hulk follows Thor to the Quinjet, where a recording of Natasha Romanoff makes him transform back into Bruce Banner for the first time since Sokovia.
The Grandmaster orders 142 and Loki to find Thor and Hulk, but the pair come to blows and Loki forces her to relive the deaths of her fellow Valkyrie at the hands of Hela. Deciding to help Thor, she takes Loki captive to prove her goodwill. Unwilling to be left behind, Loki provides the group with the means to steal one of the Grandmaster’s ships. They then liberate the other gladiators who, led by Korg and Miek, stage a rebellion. Loki attempts to betray his brother to gain a reward from the Grandmaster, but Thor anticipates this and leaves him behind, where Korg and the gladiators soon find him.
Thor, Banner, and 142 escape through a wormhole to Asgard, where Hela’s forces are attacking Heimdall and Asgard’s citizens. Banner becomes the Hulk again, fighting Fenris, while Thor and 142 battle Skurge and the resurrected warriors. Loki and the gladiators arrive to help, and the citizens board their large ship; a repentant Skurge sacrifices himself to allow their escape. Thor, facing Hela, loses an eye and then has a vision of Odin that helps him realize only Ragnarök can stop Hela. While Hela is distracted, Loki locates Surtur’s crown and places it in the Eternal Flame. Surtur is reborn and destroys Asgard, seemingly killing Hela.
Thor and the others escape with Asgard’s remaining citizens aboard the Grandmaster’s vessel. Thor, now king, decides to take his people to Earth.
MCU Continuity Nods: Waititi explained that Grandmaster does not have blue skin in the film as the character does in the comics, because Goldblum had already played a blue-colored character in Earth Girls Are Easy, and because Waititi did not want to detract from Goldblum’s personality by concealing his appearance. The Infinity Gauntlet was seen in Odin’s vault in Thor, even though it is the object of Thanos’s quest. As Hela walks through Odin’s Vault, she knocks the Infinity Gauntlet over and states “Fake!” The quinjet that Hulk was flying at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron ends up on Sakaar and Black Widow’s message from that movie is played.
Easter Eggs: Loki’s play mentions a time when he turned Thor into a frog. Loki briefly turned Thor into a frog in the comics. A panel in the Grandmaster’s viewing room is decorated with Jack Kirby artwork that comes from the the Marvel comic “Fantastic Four” #64.
A street on Sakaar is named “Kirby Way.” On Earth, Thor disguises his hammer Mjolnir as an umbrella. In the comics, whenever Thor took on the mortal form of Dr Donald Blake he disguised Mjolnir as a walking stick. The Grandmaster’s tower features statues of his champions, who are notable figures from Marvel comics: the Greek god Ares, the alien being Beta Ray Bill, the supernatural entity Man-Thing the android monster the Bi-Beast. Valkyrie carries the designation of SR-142. In the Marvel comics, Valkyrie was briefly a mortal woman named Samantha Parrington, who served as an adversary for the Hulk in “The Incredible Hulk #142.” Korg is a member of the Kronan race and made his debut in Journey into Mystery #83, where he was defeated by Thor. He is most known for his appearance in Planet Hulk. In the final end credit sequence, the Grandmaster declares the Contest of Champions a tie. In the original Contest of Champions comic book limited series, the Grandmaster picked heroes to fight against a hooded opponent’s heroes to snag prizes. After the final round, the Grandmaster was declared the winner, but due to a screw-up in the production of the comics, if you count all the battles, the original Contest of Champions should have ended in a tie.
Skurge carries out his last stand from “Thor #362” (December 1985), where he fended off Hela’s army, at the cost of his life, to save Thor and his friends.
Stan Lee Cameo: A barber who cuts Thor’s hair
Infinity Stone: The Tesseract is seen in Odin’s trophy room, where it has been since the events of The Avengers. In the newly released trailer for Avengers: Infinity War, Loki is seen holding the Tesseract, suggesting he stole it before leaving.
Post/mid Credits Scenes: In a mid-credits scene, they are intercepted by a large spacecraft. According to producer Kevin Feige, the spaceship seen is the Sanctuary II, which belongs to Thanos. In a post-credits scene, the Grandmaster encounters a group of his former subjects, who are still rebelling.
My Take: They finally found the right tone for Thor, the right mix of humor and gravitas. They found a way to strip down the character to his essence by removing his his hair, his hammer, and his eye. The idea of Thor without his hammer, much like Cap without his shield or Tony without his armor, feels like a corner has been turned.
Cate Blanchett seemed to enjoy campining it up as Hela, and her costume looked great. Hiddleston continues to be Thor’s MVP. Karl Urban sells his big moment, and the Doctor Strange scene hit the right tone. Jeff Goldblum was inspired casting.
It is a visually stunning film filled with a brilliant color palate. They went full Kirby and remembered that comics are supposed to be fun.
Next: A review of Black Panther (Once it is released of course)
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