Colorful and fun – these are the two words that will be used most to describe Thor: Ragnarok. And though they may become cliché, they’re not wrong. Whereas the previous two Thor films looked bleak and washed out, Ragnarok is big and bold and – yes – fun as hel.
Director Taika Waititi was the perfect choice to breath new life into this franchise. His vision matches the vibrance and grandiose action that icons like Jack Kirby and Walt Simonson used to establish Thor. He pulled some brilliant comedic performances from his cast, making Ragnarok one of the outright funniest films in the MCU. But while it’s very much a comedy in some ways, Waititi balances that with enough heart and soul to deepen the story and get the audience fully invested. He is to Thor what the Russo Brothers were to Captain America.
Aside from Waititi, the whole production team deserves praise on this flick. The design is gorgeous; Asgard has never looked better. In the vein of Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy, Ragnarok takes the audience on a trippy thrill ride through the cosmos. Marvel keeps exploring bright new corners of its cinematic universe, and it seems to get better with each installment.
After four films, Chris Hemsworth finally hits his stride as the God of Thunder. He takes the fun yet brutal Thor that we’ve seen glimpses of in the Avengers films and finally fleshes him out in his own feature. Then both newcomers like Tessa Thompson and Cate Blanchett and MCU veterans like Tom Hiddleston and Mark Ruffalo do an excellent job matching Hemsworth’s level of charisma. Waititi claims that 80% of this film was improvised, so most of the energy and charm we see on screen is thanks to the actors themselves.
And speaking of Ruffalo, this is the best Hulk that Marvel’s put on the big screen to date. He generates much of the film’s humor and action as both Hulk and puny Banner, and steals the show once he pops up. The filmmakers pull just enough from the Planet Hulk storyline to satisfy fans, and it plays perfectly with Thor’s story. If this truly is the start of a sly Hulk trilogy, we’re in for a treat.
Simply put, Thor: Ragnarok is the film that fans deserved. It doesn’t shy away from the bright fun that made the character popular, nor does it neglect the savage brutality inherent in the story. Here’s hoping Taika Waititi sticks around in the MCU for many years to come.