Okay, so yesterday I asked you guys which is your least favourite MCU movie and why. I said I’d take the most commonly disliked film and try and defend it, using my personal reasonings as well as attempting to counter what issues you had with it yourselves.
Firstly, I’m quite surprised that Ragnarok was the most hated! I was expecting Age of Ultron or Iron-Man 3 (though they weren’t too far behind). To make it clear, it’s okay to dislike this movie, my attempt at defending the movie is just a bit of fun, but if it lets you see and appreciate the movie in a different light then that’s cool! If it doesn’t then that’s cool too! Here goes…
I’ll start with why I personally love Ragnarok, and how it was actually my favourite MCU movie, until Infinity War inevitably took that spot.
Thor was the first character in the franchise to introduce outerspace, and the cosmic side of the cinematic universe. With Iron-Man, Hulk and Cap being restricted to Earth, Thor was key to broadening what types of stories they could tell, what sort of threats and stakes could arise etc. The first Thor movie was certainly a bold move at the time, hoping that audiences would embrace the fantastical themes that he and Asgard brought to the table. Bar Thanos, Thor and Loki are the reason sh*t’s going down in the first Avengers movie, so you have them to thank for that.
Flash forward to Dark World however, at this point we’ve seen Asgard already, so the novelty has worn off slightly. As much as the movie expands our view of Thor’s home, we still feel very restricted, as though we’re only seeing through a keyhole, when we actually wanna bust the door down and see what an outerspace adventure could really offer, hence why people gravitate towards Guardians of the Galaxy so heavily, because it let loose and didn’t feel like it was shying away from the sci-fi elements that made the property what it was.
So with Dark World leaving a bad taste in our mouths (even though I think it’s underratedly funny, but perhaps another time), and Thor not quite standing out in Age of Ultron, we’re left thinking, do we really even want another Thor movie at this point? Something had to change. The studios’ take on Thor was good in ways, but wasn’t gripping people as much as say Iron-Man and Cap. If Captain America could have an amazing sequel, why couldn’t Thor? With the damage already done via Dark World however, Ragnarok had to be Marvel’s shot at redemption and reinvigoration, and I personally think it was.
There’s no arguing Ragnarok was a bold step to take Thor, though not everyone agrees it was for the better. Could the Thor we were used to still work given the correct writing and direction? Who knows, but with already ‘failing’ once with Dark World, it was surely less of a risk to go for something completely unexpected. We go from majestic golds and elegant architecture, to crazy, vibrant, jagged imperfections that you’d expect to see in a retro sci-fi movie. The Thor we knew and expected has lightened up a little, during his few years between Age of Ultron and now, scouring the universe for information on the Infinity Stones. No pun intended, but perhaps his absent couple of years provided some much needed soul searching. So to those that wonder why Thor is suddenly so funny and witty, he’s been out and about off-screen for quite a while loosening up! That’s how I like to see it at least.
In the first 10 minutes, we’re given more cosmic calamity than any of the other Thor movie has provided in their joint runtimes. He’s in the fiery realm of Muspelheim, kicking the crap out of hellish minions and their giant demonic flame lord, Surtur, whilst the Immigrant Song plays. Then moments later, there’s a damn dragon beast that’s on fire that chases him, as the coolest little synth melody twinkles in the background. That cool little action scene not only gave Mjölnir the ultimate send off, but I remember thinking just from that point, “This is what Thor movies are meant to be like! This is already my favourite MCU movie!”
I think the comedy is people’s biggest issue with the film. Admittedly, the style of humour was a little jarring at first, but I soon let go of doubts and embraced what the movie was trying to do. Notice how I said ‘style’ of humour, and not just ‘humour’ as a whole, because a lot of people forget just how comedic the first two Thor movies actually are. I feel like humour allows a sort of alleviation to what could potentially be something rather odd on screen. That way, if the movie embraces it’s outlandish source materials, the comedy allows us to laugh with it, rather than at it. I think people are okay with the inclusion of comedic elements – I think they just weren’t expecting the amplification that it had. So as I said, you can either let that ruin the film, or you can embrace/accept it, because there is just as much heart in this film as there is humour.
I know there’s people that think Hela was wasted. Having watched these movies countless times, I rarely see any issues with villains anymore. The fabled ‘villain problem’ springs to mind, where everyone says that they were just there as a device to make the hero save the day. But what’s actually wrong with that technically speaking? And how is that any different to other movies outside of the superhero realm? I see most of these villains as stepping stones for the heroes. These movies belong to the heroes, so the way I see it, the villains are there to develop and shape the good guy into whatever the finished product may be by the time the credits roll, just like all the other characters do in the movie. To prove this point, everyone loves Thanos as a villain, but that’s because Infinity War was his movie, given the amount of time spent with him. I think the only exception is Loki, but his character is so well-received because he sits within the grey area of good and bad. We’ve seen both sides of him now.
Yes, I understand that villains are a little lack luster in most of these movies, but I liked what Hela brought to the franchise. We get the shock of discovering Thor has an older sister, she manages to take over Asgard, she demolishes everything in sight, she was the reason Thor is reinvigorated via his new right eye and weapon, she forced Thor’s hand, making him enact Ragnarok (even though there’s no stopping Ragnarok but it was a cool twist) and destroy Asgard, she was the first main female villain at long last, and she had a giant wolf. Some films spend more time with the villain, and some sacrifice it to focus more on the hero. There’s never a straight 50:50 between good and evil in their storytelling, and I imagine it’s always a hard call to make when balancing and ensuring that not only do the audience care for the hero, but also everything and everyone around them. Regardless the solo hero is always the focal point. Unless you’re watching Breaking Bad or American Psycho or… *Lists shows and movies told from the bad guy’s perspective*
I think the underlining disapproval stems from the fresh direction that it took. His hammer goes bye-byes, his warrior friends die just like that, Thor no longer looks or acts like the Thor we’re used to, and Jane moved on. People will either be okay with those things, or it’ll be too much to accept. Was the film too bold? Perhaps, but Thor can conduct lightning through his body now and that fight scene on the Bifrost bridge was badass.
Jokes aside, I suppose it’s up to the individual audience member to decide whether or not the change is too much. A part of me wishes that the Thor we currently have was the Thor from the get go – things would’ve been different, but I love the character no matter what weapon or haircut you give him. Ragnarok gave the God of Thunder the opportunity to prove why he’s a badass and not just a guy that relies on a hammer. They turned the dial up on his power level, and then again in Infinity War, which is good because I feel like prior to Ragnarok, Thor was kinda just there, y’know?
Everyone has their own favourite and least favourite movie, and no one should force you to alter your personal interests and disinterests, but if I were to wrap up what I thought of the film, Thor: Ragnarok to me is a fun, crazy joyride from start to finish, that provided a lot of heart as well as light-heartedness. It introduced some new, diverse characters whilst also giving the Hulk a much-needed story arc. A bold game-changer for the character and the lore he contributes to the MCU. It’s the type of change I can appreciate and most definitely get behind!
What do you guys think? Have I swayed your opinions, or do you hate the movie more now! Let me know. Thanks for reading! Shall I do more of these? Let me know that too. I’m off to buy snacks and watch Ragnarok now, no joke!