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Thor: Ragnarok is the MCU's First Comedy

<i>Thor: Ragnarok</i> is the MCU's First Comedy

Thor: Ragnarok offers a swashbuckling good time. With his home threatened by a powerful new (to him) villain, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has to find a way to save his people "because that’s what heroes do." The laughs keep coming; the action is fierce and fun; there are even valuable takeaways. 4 out of 5.


As the story opens, Thor is in chains – but that, he calmly explains, is all part of his cunning plan. But even the best plans have a way of going awry. With a new villain out to conquer Thor's home world of Asgard, Thor finds himself trapped again, this time on the other side of the universe and minus his iconic hammer. He's forced to compete as a gladiator against former ally and fellow Avenger—the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Hulk may be, as Thor gleefully shouts, "a friend from work," but that won't stop him from trying to rip Thor's head off. Of course, Thor's brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) won't be any help. Or will he?

What Works?

Thor: Ragnarok is hands-down the funniest Marvel movie to date, and that’s saying something. While the others were action movies with comedy; this is a comedy with action. Once Thor and the Hulk get together it becomes a buddy movie as the two strongest – and dimmest – Avengers team up to escape a bad situation and (as usual) dive into a worse one.

While Thor, Hulk, and Loki are Marvel-ous as always, a fine cast of supporting characters also shine. There's the crazed, self-absorbed Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) who's a kind of human train wreck – he's so wrong but you can't look away. Balancing all that testosterone, Tessa Thompson's character (no name because: spoiler!), a mysterious woman who is not what she first appears, can go toe-to-toe with Thor or anyone else. The film's director, Taika Waititi, also charms as Korg – a looming rock monster with a sweet personality and a lilting voice. Odin (Anthony Hopkins) pops in to offer fatherly advice – and teaches a valuable lesson we all should heed.

What Doesn't?

Hela is supposedly ruthless, evil to the core, yadda yadda yadda, but she just doesn't feel that menacing. It seems odd to say Cate Blanchett doesn't have the gravitas for a truly worthy villain, but this time she comes off as a a lightweight. Made up like a reject from a heavy metal band, Hela struts her stuff through the halls of Asgard, plotting death and destruction but it's all just… meh. Her best trick is smoothing her wild hair into a battle-ready antler kind of business, but once you've seen that she just comes across as cranky. Her erstwhile henchman Skurge (Karl Urban) easily steals every scene they share.

Christian Worldview Elements / Spiritual Themes

After the loss of his hammer, Thor is thrown for a loop. Without the one thing he relied on, Odin's son is ready to give up. His dad has to prod him to understand where his strength comes from (it's not the hammer). As Christians, we often rely on things – jobs, relationships, power – and forget that our strength also comes from another source. It's our identity as sons and daughters of God, not our accessories, that make us who we are.

Just like the church, "Asgard is not a place. Asgard is its people."

CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers)

  • MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive material 
  • Language/Profanity: Some profanity scattered throughout but no f-bombs. B**ch, s**t, freaking, and other insults. Emphasis is placed on the wrong syllable of both "Texas" and "Asgard" for comic effect. To make an escape, our heroes have to go through a passage in space called "The Devil's Anus" which they all seem to talking about.
  • Sexuality/Nudity: Apparently comic book characters are required to wear skin-tight costumes, except for the Hulk who barely wears anything at all—and in one scene we're treated to the sight of his enormous, green rear end. References to orgies; male characters tend to have fawning females around.
  • Violence/Frightening/Intense: A lot of fighting but viewers aren't likely to forget this is based on a comic book series. It’s hard to take anything too seriously when characters bounce back after what should be mortal wounds (but then, they're not mortals). A character loses an eye and the wound is visible for some time, but it's not as gory as that sounds.
  • Drugs/Alcohol: There's a fair bit of drinking by various characters, though they mostly hold their liquor quite well.

The Bottom Line

RECOMMENDED FOR: Marvel fans, Thor fans, anyone who likes a light-hearted movie where the quips and action just keep coming.

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Marvel/Thor newbies – this is not the best starting place for this series – or viewers in the mood for a serious film about issues.

Thor: Ragnarok, directed by Taika Waititi, opens in theaters November 3, 2017. It runs 130 minutes and stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, Karl Urban, Jeff Goldblum and Benedict Cumberbatch. Watch the trailer for Thor: Ragnarok here.

Susan Ellingburg spends most days helping to create amazing live events and most nights at the movies, at rehearsals, or performing with vocal ensembles in the Dallas area. This leaves very little time for cleaning house. A natural-born Texan, Susan loves all things British, Sunday afternoon naps, cozy mysteries, traveling with friends, and cooking like a Food Network star (minus the camera crew).

Publication date: November 1, 2017

Image courtesy: ©Disney-Marvel