Hey, Geeks. Welcome to this week’s Your Favorite Thing Sucks, where I get to point out all the worst parts of your favorite things. My husband and I finally got around to watching Thor: Ragnarok. We were intensely disappointed. You ready for this?
I’m going to start off by saying that I love humor in my Marvel films. Guardians of the Galaxy and Antman are two of my favorites to date, and even the more serious films still have great one-liners and moments that made me crack up at the screen. The mix of humor and sincerity is one of the things I’ve come to expect and enjoy from MCU.
But Thor: Ragnarok didn’t bring that to the table. Or, it did, but it seems like it only tried to bring humor and none of what Ragnarok could have been.
There Is a Time and a Place for Funny Gods
Thor can be funny. He often is funny. But not usually when it comes to talking about his own home and people. The humor from the original Thor mostly stemmed from him being an outsider unaware of how things work in this world.
I still laugh at this. I probably always will.
But here, Thor is supposed to be in his element. He knows his place and what he’s meant to do and he takes… virtually none of it seriously. If they weren’t part of the same universe, I’d go so far as to consider Thor: Ragnarok a poorly remade Guardians of the Galaxy. The humor portrayed in Guardians and the other “funny” MCU films made sense for the overall theme and characters therein but it seemed forced and overdone here. And none of those films had the continuous 30-40 minute string of “funny” moments one right after the other, nor did any of those characters face half the terrible and life-changing events that Thor was forced to deal with in this film. They also never went into anything having been raised to be a ruler of an entire kingdom. Or a god. But Thor did, so you’d expect him to handle things with a bit more decorum.
It Might be MCU, but It’s Still Called Ragnarok
Even if we do choose to consider Thor as one of the more “silly/funny” superheroes, though, the film was still called Ragnarok. Ragnarok. The end of Asgard and its people. It’s the legitimate End of Days for a real-world religion. I could probably write three additional articles about everything Marvel got wrong about Ragnarok and Asatru in general, but I do understand that this universe is its own thing, entirely, and am okay with that. Still, though. If you’re going to name something Hero: Apocalypse, then there are a few things that I feel are expected from that apocalyptic timeline. The worst thing is the movie did have all the roots for said apocalypse: The tragic death of a father, a kingdom betrayed by lies, a goddess of death and despair, a Valkyrie who watched her entire unit slaughtered, saved by the sacrifice of someone close to her. Hell, an entire Realm is destroyed. Completely. The potential emotional impact of that is staggering.
That’s what I wanted from a film called Ragnarok. From a storyline that passes the mantle (and eye patch) from Father to Son. This film could have been amazing with implication and deep storytelling. But instead, I feel like we got a grab-bag of pop culture references and Easter eggs. Silly side characters with quirky one-liners that I LOVE Marvel for — when they’re used sparingly to break up the tension. This was just a string of them to the point that any emotion or sincerity that should have been found in all the dark points listed above was just… lost. Also, my husband and I foresaw every obvious plot moment there was to be had, which isn’t so far out of the ordinary, except that the ones here were so tropey that we actually groaned at two of them.
“Everyone has already figured out you’re going to try to be a good guy by the end of this. Why am I keeping you around, again?”
“I have no idea, Your Highness. To be your executioner, I think.”
“I create daggers with my mind. Why would I need you for that?”
We Will NEVER See Planet Hulk as We Were Meant to See It.
For what it’s worth, I was happy to see the Planet Hulk storyline crop up, which was so strong in the comics. But fans of that arc definitely wanted more and a few might have even been holding out for Mark Ruffalo Hulk film. There is no chance of Planet Hulk coming with all the story and awesomeness it deserves. Instead, they got this — a few scenes in what turned into a two-for-one feature wrapped around silly pre-teen jock dialogue from Thor and a flustered Banner that, again, is so great in moderation in the other films but was so stilted and continuous here. Even Banner, who is almost always a serious character got over the “I’ve been Hulk for two years” thing in, like, nine minutes.
There you go. This is what people remember of your favorite Hulk storyline.
Thor: Ragnarok had so much potential. And I was so ready for it to reach that potential from the first few notes of Immigrant Song (which was a great choice, by the way). It touched on what it could have been several times, but for something as dark and full of implication, with as much heavy and beautiful change as what happened here, I would have liked to have felt some emotion every now and again instead of forcing out strained chuckles to cover an overwhelming sense of boredom.
Note: I am aware that most of what I point out here changes in Infinity War. I wrote this before I’d seen that movie, and thus my initial impression stands. Infinity War is everything that Ragnarok wasn’t, and while I admit that Ragnarok set us up for that eventuality, it doesn’t mean that Ragnarok doesn’t suck.
Tahani Nelson is a “Geek of All Trades.” She’s dabbled in pretty much everything, but holds a special place in her heart (and schedule) for video and tabletop games. Other interests include attending Renaissance Faires and Cons in full dress, practicing calligraphy, writing fantasy novels, discussing comparative philosophy and morality, and apparently listening with a blank smile on her face anytime someone tries to convince her that Magic: The Gathering is as much fun as D&D.