I feel like I’m getting Marvel fatigue.
It’s been almost ten years since I walked into a movie theater, ticket stub in hand, ready to see a movie called Iron Man. I knew almost nothing about the character. I’d read very few comic books. My only knowledge of Robert Downey Jr. was that he’d spent time in prison, but I walked out of that theater thinking-
Hey, that was pretty good.
I mean not The Dark Knight good, but good.
A decade later and there are now 17 movies that make up the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’ve seen 16 of them in theaters.
And, not only, have I seen all them. I even stay for all the stupid post-credit scenes. Do you know how many post-credit scenes Guardians of the Galaxy II had? Five! Some poor schmuck teenager had to sweep popcorn out from under my feet because I had to have one last Groot fix.
What the hell is wrong with me?
When did I become so dedicated to this freaking franchise?! I couldn’t tell ya, but I know it happened slowly. Like, cooking a frog over a low flame.
To be honest, the last three Marvel films- Guardians II, Dr. Strange, and Spider-man: Homecoming left me feeling meh.
So of course, I trudged my sorry ass out to the nearest multiplex to see the latest installment to the MCU- Thor: Ragnarok, and goddamnit if I didn’t love it!
Here are a few reasons why Thor: Ragnarok is the best MCU movie since Captain America: Civil War.
To begin with, this movie is really a comedy disguised as a superhero movie. Director Taika Waititi is known for his offbeat comedic sense. Accordingly, his version of the titular character, rather than being the overly serious god of thunder, comes off as an actual human being.
Thor is just a guy trying to get home to Asgard, and he’s in desperate need of help. He can’t do it on his own. Some of the film’s best moments come when Thor is trying to recruit aid from his fellow prisoners of Sakaar. Yet most of them, out of expediency, are choosing to stay on the trash barge of a planet.
Take for instance Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, who has found himself at peace in the constant battle of the gladiator pits. Much of the movie’s plot is lifted from the critically acclaimed comic Hulk Planet. One of the amazing things about that novel is that we don’t see much of Hulk’s alter ego, Bruce Banner.
In the movie, rather than exploring the tortured and long-suffering angle of the character we get to see Hulk in his element. Plus, he’s actually speaking full sentences!
Also, Thor repeating Black Widow’s mantra, “The sun is getting real low,” over and over was a highlight of the film. A reminder that other MCU directors haven’t used Chris Hemsworth to his full potential.
Tom Hiddleston returns as Loki. The trickster god also seems happier on Sakaar. It’s here that he’s free to embrace his basic nature of cunning and treachery. By the time Thor arrives on Sakaar Loki has already jockeyed his way to power. He’s gained a comfortable place in the inner circle of Sakaar’s despotic ruler- The Grandmaster. As usual, Loki’s not looking to risk anything for his older brother’s sake.
By the way, Jeff Goldblum as The Grandmaster is everything you’d hope him to be.
Then there’s Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thomson. Once a proud Asgardian warrior she’s now a comically drunk scavenger (and possible slave-trader?). She’s so impressive even Thor is in awe of her. Instead of pursuing a tired romantic subplot the two characters work as equals in their quest to return to Asgard and defeat the wicked Hela.
So you’re wondering what’s bad about this movie? Can’t all be good, right?
Well, Asgard is as boring and pointless as usual, but with a limited screen time. Idris Elba is criminally under-utilized. And, for reasons unfathomable to me, film-makers chose to shoehorn in a Dr. Strange cameo that is as pointless to the plot as the good doctor’s addition to the greater MCU.
Now, is this the greatest story ever told? No. I don’t even know if it’s the best Marvel movie of the year (I guess Spider-Man wasn’t terrible), but it’s fun, and it’s funny, and it sure is colorful. And, that’s enough for me.
Plus it has Cate Blanchett who I didn’t even mention, but if I had to sum up her performance I’d say she was hella good.
See what I did there?
And you thought I was a terrible writer…