Thor: Ragnarok

Recently some friends and I were choosing favorites between Marvel’s three Chrises. It’s a tough call because Evans (the Captain America one) has the best Marvel series in my opinion, plus he seems like a cool guy in real life and starred in SNOWPIERCER. But Pratt (the Star Lord one) is the funniest and most down-to-earth Chris, and he has the more irreverent Marvel series. I even like his hypermasculine hold-on-I-need-to-roll-up-my-sleeves-so-you-can-see-my-forearms turn in JURASSIC WORLD.

Still, I chose Hemsworth (the Thor one) as my favorite Chris, because here is the most potentially embarrassing of the major Marvel characters, and frankly their least memorable series, but they got this Australian guy I never heard of who looks like He-Man and still was able to fuel the entire first movie on the power of his charisma. I really realized I was a fan when he did Michael Mann’s BLACKHAT. Not only is it a movie I really liked, but it was the first time in a while that one of these new guys displayed the type of manly magnetism that inspired me in the action movies of the ’80s and ’90s. I’m older than him but he made me want to grow up to slick my hair back and do hand stand pushups and read about philosophers.

So thank God his signature character Thor finally gets a movie worthy of his charms. Taika Waititi, the New Zealand writer-director best known for WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS and the great HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE, completely reinvents the series as a colorful comedy much more in the vein (and sci-fi landcape) of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY than of the previous THORs. He quickly makes him funny, destroys his hammer, puts him on another planet and has cyborg Stan Lee cut his hair short. So it’s different.

GUARDIANS VOL. 2 reminded me of pinball machines, THOR RAGNAROK reminds me of bombastic rock ‘n roll album cover paintings. There are giant glowing demons, Hellish dungeons, valkyries attacking on pegasus-back and slow motion battles set to Led Zeppelin. But in his fight against horned personifications of death and apocalypse Thor (and asshole brother Loki, who has to be in all of them because people like the actor, Tom Hiddleston [WAR HORSE]) falls off the rainbow bridge or whatever and ends up on Sakaar, a planet of bright colors, garbage dumps and masked scavengers. One of them, a hard-drinking Asgardian expat played by CREED‘s Tessa Thompson, captures him and sells him to Jeff Goldblum (DEATH WISH) for gladiatorial combat.

Goldblum’s character is called The Grandmaster but I’m pretty sure he’s just Jeff Goldblum. He must’ve retired from acting so he could wear weird makeup, DJ for parties and make monsters fight each other. Honestly John Cusack should’ve looked into that possibility instead of doing so many DTV movies. And I think Nic Cage would really enjoy this lifestyle as well but I don’t want to give him any ideas because we still need him here.

As we know from the trailers, Thor ends up fighting T.I. Hulk (Mark Ruffalo, WINDTALKERS) and then it becomes kind of a buddy movie where they bicker and try to escape together. Hulk has been trapped in his monster body for some time, and we get to see him talking in that form more than before, which is fun.

By the way, this all happens after Thor and Loki’s previously undisclosed sister Hela (Cate Blanchett, HANNA) shows up in Asgard to claim the throne. She’s an extremist and also the goddess of death so they gotta get back in time to stop her from conquering all the other realms like a big fuckin imperialist jerk. Blanchett has Zoe Bell as her stunt double and reportedly trained in capoeria to help with her movements, so the role is much more physical than, like, CAROL.

Thompson’s fun and often drunk warrior Valkyrie (technically just called “Scrapper 142” in the movie) easily dwarfs any previous THOR supporting characters. This is, after all, the series that knew enough to cast the great Ray Stevenson and Idris Elba but not enough to give them better characters than Thor’s Friend #3 and Guy Who Turns Sword So Thor Can Warp. This time they SPOILER unceremoniously kill off Stevenson and those other dudes almost as soon as they appear (it’s unclear if Thor knows his sister horribly murdered his three life-long best friends). On the other hand they seem to realize the horrible mistake they made by giving Elba a character as useless as Heimdall, so they allow him to leave the sword-turning job and actually do a couple things.

For some directors, making a Marvel movie would be a sellout or a waste of their talents. And it will be sad if Waititi just becomes the THOR guy for ten years and doesn’t get to do his own movies. But like with James Gunn and GUARDIANS, so far this feels like a victory for the little guy. He uses his own paints on the Marvel canvas. Rachel House, who was so funny as the antagonist in WILDERPEOPLE, plays a similarly bitter character working for Goldblum. Waititi himself plays a lovable new comic relief character named Korg, who seems straight out of one of the director’s comedies except that he’s a motion capture rock monster guy. Waititi even brought in Mark Mothersbaugh (regular composer for his most obvious influence, Wes Anderson) to provides excellent synth-infused music that, if I’m not mistaken, is the first stylistically distinctive score since the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Galaxy Quest or whatever (MCGQow).

All Marvel movies have humor, but few have such dedication to finding bits like the awkwardness of making an evil speech to Thor while he’s hanging from a chain and slowly rotating, or Heimdall’s replacement Skurge (Karl Urban, CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK) trying to use the magic-transporter-sword-turning job to impress chicks. This is an all-out comedy, and I suppose that may annoy people because in retrospect it plays a little loose with the reality of the Marvel Universe. Hopefully nobody holds it to MAN OF STEEL standards of destruction accountability, because if so they’re gonna have to be up in arms against the ending’s ENDING SPOILERS OBVIOUSLY indication that taking five minutes to crowd a bunch of people onto a big space ship Noah’s Ark style counts as saving everyone on Asgard. Nobody checked for stragglers or pets or anything, they just act like everyone is accounted for, and I for one say we take their word for it. Please don’t complain, because if it becomes a thing they’ll do a later chapter where some new character was left behind and wants revenge on Thor. Let’s skip all that.

Honestly I’m a little surprised they make such a joke out of Thor bringing Loki back to earth after his attempt at conquering the planet in THE AVENGERS I do believe caused mass death. And come to think of it in the beginning of this one he brought Loki to New York and was spotted by fans and nobody made an issue of it. Memories are short I guess. They’re all mad at The Vulture or somebody now.

* * *

I encounter people sometimes who use “Marvel movies,” “comic book movies” or “super heroes” as short hand for “dumb mainstream bullshit that I would never watch because are you kidding me look at me look at how smart and cultured I am I don’t even know what that is actually what are they on like part 37 or something I wouldn’t know that’s how completely separate my life is from the life of the people who watch that trash.” Of course nobody has to like this stuff, but the specific disdain I’m describing is a joyless, elitist attitude that sometimes (not always) signifies somebody too insecure in their individuality to know they can be a unique person with interesting tastes and also enjoy some of the same shit that everybody else does. They don’t have to be the guy that hates pizza and ice cream.

I’ve liked all the Marvel Studios movies at least a little bit, so obviously I don’t think of them as lowest common denominator. They’re a pretty high common denominator, in my opinion. I think of them as being kind of like Pixar – a group of artists who have together developed a type of storytelling with a specific tone and crowd-pleasing sensibility. Pixar is a “brand” and they stay within the confines of mainstream, all-ages computer animation, but their work has evolved and introduced new voices (Brad Bird wasn’t even with them at the start!) and when people accuse them of not taking risks they are mistaken. It only seems that way because of the high success rate, and that applies to Marvel too. I never thought CAPTAIN AMERICA would work, much less corralling all their characters into THE AVENGERS, or having a talking raccoon. Obviously they knew what they were doing.

But most Marvel movies are sequels, and Pixar was best before they started down that path. Even now, most years those animators get to rebuild the world from the ground up, and Marvel doesn’t. For all the fun of this interlinked universe and cast of characters, I can’t deny that even as the movies get better and better there’s a bit of a feeling of just being a very expensive TV show. Every summer I enjoy the new episode and wait for the next one. That’s cool, but it’s rare that I revisit one of these or obsess on it as an individual piece of art like I have TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2, DAWN OF THE DEAD, FURY ROAD, T2, DARK KNIGHT, even REVENGE OF THE SITH, let alone a movie that’s not part of a series.

Is it me? I’m sure there are people out there who connect to Marvel movies on a more personal level than I do. But none of them have made me shed actual tears, like more than one Pixar movie has. I don’t often use them as analogies or parables for real life situations like I have STAR WARS, THE MATRIX, THEY LIVE, MAD MAX, THE GRANDMASTER or so many other great genre movies. So, as much as I like Marvel movies and don’t sanction snobbery toward them, there is definitely a sense that yes, they are nothing less than, but also nothing more than, a well-manufactured product.

I have a feeling that may change with BLACK PANTHER, not just because it’s a great director and subject but because its unique place as the blackest big budget event movie ever made gives it the potential to be a watershed moment in pop culture. I don’t personally think RAGNAROK is the one, but it’s not that far off either. It’s interesting to see Waititi, whose father is Maori, bring in a theme of colonialism. It turns out Odin is ashamed of Asgard’s violent history and has somewhat sanitized it. Hela thinks their conquering was awesome and wants to extend their rule to other realms. Does stopping this imperialism absolve Thor of his family’s long-ago sins? Can they be conquerors anymore now that they are refugees? They realize now that people and culture are what matters, not land and power.

It doesn’t matter that much to me that these ideas aren’t explored in much detail. But they’re in the “plot” part of the movie that’s less memorable than the diversion. So to me it comes off as more of a neat idea of how to connect the fantasy to reality than a full-on subtext, much like the current politics that come up in WINTER SOLDIER and CIVIL WAR without ever feeling like the topic at hand.

But I think these movies get better the more distinctive voices like Waititi put their stamp on them, so they got me hooked.

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 9th, 2017 at 3:28 pm and is filed under Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

50 Responses to “Thor: Ragnarok”

  1. Their unusual choice to give Korg the voice they did was so great, and indicative that they called comedy above the rest, but made it work so well

  2. He’s not a Marvel Chris, but the King of the Chrises, imo, still remains Chris Pine. I like each of them though.

    I agree with your points, Vern, about Marvel being more like TV than traditional moviemaking. I think that’s because most of them are barely self-contained stories–though many of the better movies do work as self-contained stories–and often are bridges to the next movie or franchise or a continuation of the prior movies and events in related franchises. Producer Kevin Feige has basically worked as the showrunner to all these marvel movies, so that’s why I think so many of them have similar looks, story beats, characters, themes, and tones. To me, this one was good TV.

    I liked this one. The first section of the movie was a bit heavy on feeling like a superhero movie spoof, even though it was funny and mostly worked. The second section which goes more outright buddy movie in different situations, and with different buddies, is played somewhat more serious and I thought worked too. Blanchett did a good job at camping it up. They easily could’ve made everything she was involved with much more serious, and then the movie’s tone would’ve felt completely off. Karl Urban had a great introduction, but I really didn’t care at all about his whole redemption part, which felt like an unnecessary formula part to this one. Oh, and the music was fantastic too.

  3. My ranking of the Chrises goes: Chris Kirk, Chris Thor, Captain Chris America, and Chris Parks & Recs.

    I think Vern basically capture exactly my feelings towards the Marvel movies. I enjoy every film to some degree, but they also feel somewhat disposable. The only film I’ve gone out of my way to rewatch (twice) was the first Captain America. I only watched The Avengers and Captain America 3 because they happened to be streaming, and I had nothing better to do.

    At the same time, they’re immensely enjoyable when you’re watching them. I just saw Spider-Man: Homecoming, and like most of these movies it went down easily. I have a ton of respect for the screenwriters of these films and how they balance out plot, characters, and humor. Would I like a more distinctive voice behind the camera? Sure. But at the same time, I’m not greedy. I’ll take lightweight entertainment when it’s as well crafted as the Marvel films.

  4. I saw this more as a show of support for a fellow countryman than any particular interest in the Thor character or universe.
    I thought it was a hugely entertaining movie with a real Kiwi sensibility to the humour and a surprising disregard for what has gone before in the Thor films and wider MCGQow, which I found quite refreshing.
    Apart from a “Hey! Remember me!” cameo from Dr Strange and a throwaway line about Thanos’s golden glove of power, this felt very much like its own film.
    Chris Hemsworth was excellent and his comic timing and embracing of the ridiculousness of his character made his my favourite of the lead performances I’ve seen in one of these films.
    Like Vern, I would have liked to have seen a bit more of attention paid to the idea of Asgardians now being a bunch of boring, white boat people, but any serious statement would have been totally awkward in such an out-and-out comedy.
    I really enjoyed it and is probably the funniest movie I’ve seen in the theatre this year.

  5. I can totally see myself seeing this one multiple times. The one Marvel movie I can say that I love that I would own if I bought non John Carpenter Blurays anymore is Winter Soldier. It is my favorite.

  6. I went to this island in Indonesia and during the boat trip both on the way there and back they showed Age of Ultron on a tiny screen without sound and in a way that felt like a pretty good way to sort of rewatch that movie – cool images of superdudes punching a bunch of robots and Thor goes to a cave and sees Idris Elba grimacing.

    I tend to at least try to go to the movies to see all of the Marvel ones and it’s always a very good time but never ever do I have an urge to actually sit down and revisit any of them. I guess Winter Soldier is still my favorite but then again while I do have a pretty ok recollection of what’s the basic story in all of these, it’s a bit hard to keep track of which cool part or fight happens in which movie. Still, they are all good movies.

  7. They could very well have gotten every individual in Åsgard into that spaceship. In Norse mythology not that many warriors got to go there after they died. A lot of then went to hell. I liked this one a lot. The funniest scene, that not that many around me got, was the play Loke had set up when he was disguised as Odin. Chris’ brother Luke as Thor, Matt Damon as Loke and Sam Neil as Odin was some casting!

  8. “most of them are barely self-contained stories”

    I never understood that criticism. Sure, they are all more or less sequels to something, maybe their own sub-franchise or even the whole MCU, so of course you are missing out on some character relationships or background info if you, for example, start with CIVIL WAR or IRON MAN 3, but I haven’t seen one MCU movie yet, that doesn’t work as its own story with a beginning, a middle part and a real ending. I mean, this isn’t like the MATRIX sequels or KILL BILL, where each movie tells you only one half of the story. At the end of every movie the bad guys are defeated and the problems are solved. Okay, there are some lead ins to another movie, but they are more like BACK TO THE FUTURE 2, where by the end of the movie Biff’s almanach is destroyed and the timeline has been restored and we now get a quick glimpse at the next story, which is not really that important to what happened before.

    And I think that’s part of the appeal of the MCU. They tell this interconnected story, through dozens of stand alone stories, that are easily to understand for people who randomly drop in and out of the show.

  9. Haven’t seen Thor: Ragnarok yet, but looking forward to it. I’m not sure how I feel, though, about it being a comedy. You’d think that goddess of death conquering Asgard would be somewhat serious of a thing, but I’m open minded. Not to mention that most Marvel movies are half-way to comedies as it is. All of them are filled with little jokes and quips. There’s value in not taking things too seriously, but with most Marvel stuff I get the opposite feeling, like they’re ashamed of their comicbook origins. Any moment of levity is cut with some how-silly-this-all-is line. Every joke feels like a preemptive strike, “Quick, let’s make a joke about this before someone in the audience does! Ha! Ha! You are laughing with us, not at us.” There’s movies with good balance of action and humor, like Indiana Jones series, but with Marvel it’s feels like this meta self-flagellation. No Marvel movie feels like it believes in itself, its material, or its audience for that matter. It’s like high-school defense mechanism humor. We get it, superheroes are inherently ridiculous. So it’s kind of disheartening when people are disappointed that, let’s say, Man of Steel didn’t go for the obvious low hanging fruit about tights and capes. Inflated bs about Superman tearing down the whole city aside, it’s like a lot of people were upset that the movie treated it’s source material with reverence and didn’t have a joke about how dumb it is that a planet just exploded on its own. Personally, I think there’s room for both types of movies, but this is the internet, so middle ground is more fantastic than flying aliens and magic hammers.

  10. SPOILER! There’s action too.

  11. I don’t think they would be half as successful if each movie was like Lost.

  12. The MCU are movies about genocide, war crimes, terrorism, torture and childhood traumata, with green giants, talking raccoons and nordic alien gods. I don’t know how anybody could get the feeling of “They are ashamed of their comic book origins”, simply because they don’t want to punish their audiences with 9/11 grief and instead bring back the unashamed popcorn fun to our multiplexes, that everybody loved so much in the 80s.

    Note: From the way how I keep defending the MCU all the time, it makes me look like I think they are perfect and untouchable, which I definitely don’t. (Personally I think the two Russo Brothers CAPTAIN AMERICA movies are pretty bad and DR STRANGE feels like it was done by people, who only know the MCU from Reddit threads by DC fanboys.) I just think that much of the most popular criticisms (“They are all just trailers for the next movie”, “They are too funny”, “Marvel is ashamed of making comic book movies”, etc) are complete bullshit and can be refuted, simply by WATCHING them.

  13. Well said Neff.

  14. Well, I don´t know much about this THOR business. But I just saw THE VILLAINESS. This years biggest disappointment. The trailers DID NOT let me in on that I was gonna watch a two hour Korean soap opera. And I was so hyped for this…

    I just had to get that off my chest. Please continue the THOR discussion.

  15. I left the theater a bit confused about my feelings and still kind of am. I was not prepared for the level of comedy and it totally threw me for a loop. I feel like I shouldn’t like it because of that, and yet I really did. I think I need to see it again to truly cement my feelings. It’s not that I dislike comedies. I honestly don’t know what it is. I guess it’s that I was unprepared. Vern, I wondered if maybe you wouldn’t even review it because you don’t review comedies and I would say this was a straight up comedy.

    Here’s a great podcast with the director about the comedy and his take on changing Thor and the Marvel universe:


    Hemsworth was great. This was exactly his lane in type of comedy and yet still being a hunky action guy. I also really liked the sweet moments, like him and Loki in the elevator when he was telling Loki their paths diverged long ago and he has come to accept it. I have to disagree with Vern about past Marvel movies bringing tears to my eyes. It was flat out lip quivering and fighting tears at the end of the last GUARDIANS movie and when Cap visited old Peggy and called her his girl.

  16. It was fine, overall. Entertaining, but incredibly fluff-like for what the plot was supposed to be about, and for what’s possibly the final THOR movie. Maybe I’d have enjoyed it more if it was the second entry in the series, but AGE OF ULTRON set this up to be a weightier story than it was, and the humour is the main culprit in that. Almost no moment of any seriousness is spared having a joke undercut it, in the name of just being fun and nothing more. Blanchett is great as Hela, but the character doesn’t have anything to do for the whole middle of the movie. For all the hoopla about her being the first female MCU Movie villain, Jeff Goldblum is technically more of an obstacle to Thor than she is. Loki ruling Asgard (his primary character motivation and something that has been built up to by the last two Thor movies and one Avengers movie) is resolved in the first 15 minutes of the film, resulting in the character who was once considered the best MCU villain and “killed eighty people in two days” is reduced to being a comedy punching bag for most of the movie. And it’s not that comedy is bad, it’s that it’s almost all this movie has, despite the fact that GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (which let’s face it, they’re trying to emulate) managed to be both funny and have emotionally significant moments with its characters, not to mention that with WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS at least, Waititi showed he could balance humour with melancholy and darker subject matter.

  17. Okay, you’re right, Maggie. The climax of the first GotG and the Peggy Carter scenes did get me close (the latter because I watched her TV show).

  18. Stu – we’re talking about Loki who’s most famous moment to most people was Hulk treating him like a ragdoll, right?

    Nef – for someone who’s not seen Thor 3, your complaints are weirdly specific. Then again I grew up with BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA and FLASH GORDON and even ARMY OF DARKNESS, movies that had no qualms with being silly. When I hear people preach about “balance,” I wonder if they carried scales with them to the theater. Humor is one way to make an audience emotionally invest in a character. It’s not the only tool, but it’s a tool.

    One good thing about RAGNAROK though: I can cite it whenever I get trapped in another trite online debate whether CIVIL WAR would’ve been better with “higher stakes” if a character died. Maybe, but considering how RAGNAROK has major Thor-verse supporting characters biting the dust (and some off-handidly)….yeah how many people afterwards cared honestly? Partially that’s the fault of that trilogy not doing enough to make people invest in them to care when they eat it. I mean contrast with GOTGv2 and Yondu, which is shocking considering I would’ve laughed at you if you said I would’ve ended up missing that redneck alien smurf. But GOTGv2 fleshed out some of the supporting characters, and yeah ended with a nice organic thematic message (albeit not a rocket science one) that in retrospect sums up the first movie in that series as well.

    Contrast with RAGNAROK where its got a not bad idea of a theme (a people aren’t a place) but it feels like a message conceived after the fact of a plot turn being decided years earlier to set up INFINITY WAR. So I guess when it comes to 2017 MCU space operas, GOTGv2 to me had more “opera” going for it. And yet weirdly GOTGv2 is the lowest rated MCU movie of this year’s crop on RT. Go figure.

    Vern – I think a better comp than Pixar for the MCU would be the James Bond movies, which have their own criticism (with some merit) of being formulaic “same-y” where plots rehashed but the cogs (villains/villains scheme/exotic locations/etc.) are changed out. MCU has more characters/genre to dabble in so this isn’t as obvious. I can count on one hand (out of 24) the # of 007 films where I was “moved” and that’s after I lose some digits after a saw factory accident. But for most part, they’re decent expendable afternoon killing action/adventure-ers yet on the masse have over half a century become their own unique little cinematic corner with its own traditions and tropes. I think in some ways MCU has become a newer version of that, albeit cranking out more entries much faster.

    Since somebody mentioned THE WINTER SOLDIER, its funny how when that came out we either looked at the premise of Neo-Nazis infiltrating the U.S. Government as either a bland villainy used to have an easy to hate threat that also wouldn’t offend folks*, or liberals giggling about its unrealism sabotaging the plot. Now 3 years later, holy shit that turned out prophetic.

    *=See certain right wing assholes online upset about that new Wolfenstein game marketing with the hashtag #NoMoreNazis because….well, they’re Alt Right fucks. Duh.

  19. Funny enough, I read Vern’s review today touch upon the colonialism aspect and Village Voice publishes a piece on it.

    “Thor: Ragnarok”: Marvel From a Postcolonial Perspective

    For all its franchise-building, CGI-laden spectacle, and self-referential humor, Thor: Ragnarok is a tale of colonialism — a cosmic comedy that’s out to remind us of...

  20. I like Hemsworth too. No one really compares him to Arnold, but I feel like the SPIRIT of Arnie is within him! I see it in his eagerness to give the people a mix of action und comedy. From what I’ve read, Hemsworth pushed hard for Thor to be more comedic after Thor: The Dark World and Age of Ultron. And I’m glad he did because the man has great comic timing and isn’t afraid to play the fool.

    Overall I liked the movie, but it’s a bit of a mixed bag. I liked the movie’s willingness to be incredibly goofy and laugh at what came before it. I liked the all stuff on Sakaar and loved when Thor, Banner and Valkyrie got together. I liked dumb, naked Hulk (“Baby Arms!”).

    What I didn’t like was most of the Asgard related scenes. After a promising start (“oh shit”), Anthony Hopkins sleepwalks through what felt like a hastily reshot scene and disappears in a cloud of cg dust? Hela was a big disappointment. Blanchett is game, but the movie doesn’t give her much to do. She lounges around in Asgard and tells Skurge her backstory for most of the runtime.

  21. RRA- And that happened to Loki at the end of the movie, as comeuppance after spending most of the run time being one step ahead of the heroes and doing a lot of bad stuff like the eighty people he killed, mentally enslaving characters and repeatedly trying to murder Thor and (temporarily) murdering Coulson. All things that were IN CHARACTER for how he’d been portrayed up till that point. It was cathartic to see him get his ass kicked like that. That’s what made him such a good villain.

    “Maybe, but considering how RAGNAROK has major Thor-verse supporting characters biting the dust (and some off-handidly)….yeah how many people afterwards cared honestly?”
    Maybe because the movie didn’t seem to care with some of those in particular, treating them like redshirts and not even bringing them up later for Thor to react to (which could have happened during his chat with Heimdall).

    Wadew- That’s because it was reshot:

    Here's Why Odin's Thor: Ragnarok Scenes Were Reshot

    Short version: they were deemed too sad.

    “bummer”, “felt too sorry for him”. It’s like “gravitas” is a dirty word at Marvel Studios sometimes. Hoping BLACK PANTHER bucks the trend.

  22. Stu – I’m sorry but you forgot the jokes done at Loki’s expense before Hulk. For example when he tried to turn Iron Man with the glow stick of destiny and he didn’t think it through.

    Which *pushes rim of eyeglasses up* actually plays into his character established after 2 films, of a dickish yet wumpy guy who can be slick and clever and evil but ultimately when hammer meets anvil just aint ready for prime time. (Weirdly to the surprise of a lot of folks, that wumpy shit is what got him scores of fangirls among other factors. Go figure.) How many times does Loki trip or get his ass kicked in that movie? It’s why I liked that bit in RAGNAROK when Thor outsmarted him. His character has grown up a tad. Its not like the old days when I was a WCW pro wrestling fan and whenever Sting and Ric Flair were buddies you’re waiting for dumbass Sting to get stabbed in the back and knowing he’ll never learned his lesson.

    I guess my problem with your argument is this: if RAGNAROK had less jokes, you believe people would’ve invested more in the drama or whatever and cared more. If Punisher 3.0 had a proper heroic death scene and if Thor learned about his passing later on, the audience would’ve cared more about him afterwards. I find that honestly to be a giant assumption to say the least. Could’ve they have made that work? Sure I guess but as that film is produced….I doubt it. GOTGv2 was jokey as fuck and yet it made me care when obviously it wanted me to care. RAGNAROK didn’t make me care as much when it clearly wanted me too. (I think clearly Taika’s heart was in the gladiator stuff, the Asgard shit was something he inherited and was stuck with.) Reminds me of that one film last year when one of the biggest pop culture icons in the WORLD is killed off in heroic self-sacrificing fashion, emulating one of his more famous storylines and….my Thursday night crowd shrugged.

    People complaining about “too many jokes” on some of these MCU films, its the equivalent of when people complained about some DCEU films not working because they were “too dark” or “too serious.” Well, no. It’s because they dropped the ball in the execution. And while I think RAGNAROK could’ve done a better job in the dramatic department, whatever shortfalls happened there I don’t blame on there being too many gags or whatever.

    (Here’s the weird thing when I see people praise RAGNAROK as the comedy Thor they’ve been waiting for: I remember Thor 2 being heavily criticized at the time for being too jokey. RAGNAROK for me is this year’s STAR TREK BEYOND: a decent movie wildly praised harder by rest of the Internet because said Internet were either underwhelmed or hated the previous entries of a franchise that while I recognized some of their complaints with them, I still found them to be decent enough entertainments, which is how I feel about RAGNAROK. Thor is a franchise that never reached the highs of the Cap and GOTG and Iron Man franchises, but never the lows of IM. Consistent at the same speed for me at their core, even RAGNAROK despite the very colorful fresh paint job. Reminds me of the big budget slick/polished version of those cult franchsies we like and some cowards publicly call “guilty pleasures” because they just pushed certain weak spots in our psyche, and I guess space Vikings did that job for me. For me GOTGv2 and HOMECOMING were very good, RAGNAROK is decent. That’s the difference.)

    “It’s like “gravitas” is a dirty word at Marvel Studios sometimes.”

    It’s almost like people forget the moments of gravitas they’ve done (and done decently) because it might you know get in the way of their argument. I think back to two moments in CIVIL WAR I loved that most people missed or forgot. Black Panther fails to save his dad. It simple, cut down to the chase, and boy I would be stunned if his movie didn’t capitalize on that scene. Or that climax when Cap slams the shield into the ground, Stark really thought by his defensive posture his former co-worker was going to kill him. Jesus.

    Its like CJ Holden makes a point of it earlier: on the surface, these movies are formulaic action comedies. But dig deep on a lot of them, there’s some grim shit when you think about it.

    (I’ll give you this Stu: that reshot Odin death was some reshooty as reshooty possible. I like how Thor and Loki were ho-hum about it. Contrast that with both going mental when Mommy got fridged in the previous picture.)

  23. You know how I post a link to the “Remember…you wanted this” scene from JACK REACHER every time a new STAR WARS thing goes up? I think I’m probably going to make this my standard Marvel post:

    The Simpsons - Itchy & Scratchy focus group

    Hilarious scene where Lisa inadvertently gives Meyers the idea of Poochie

    Someday they’re going to stop making these incredibly well-crafted, entertaining, and surprisingly cohesive films that attracted idiosyncratic talent from a wide variety of areas and yet still connected with mass audiences twice a year like clockwork, walking the line between creative expression and commercial compromise with nary a false step, and you’re all going to realize how good you had it.

  24. RRA: “I’m sorry but you forgot the jokes done at Loki’s expense before Hulk. For example when he tried to turn Iron Man with the glow stick of destiny and he didn’t think it through.”
    That wasn’t a joke done at Loki’s expense. That was Tony being lucky enough that Loki didn’t know he had a metal implant in his chest that stopped the spear from working him, shortly before Loki lifted him up by his throat and hurled him through a window. Because for all his scheming, Loki was depicted as being physically dominant by human standards and a capable fighter across the two movies by that point, including going up against Thor a couple of different times. And I like that Thor outsmarted him, because he finally learned 4 movies in about it. It’s more that when Thor just uses brute force on him, Loki’s talents in this movie are worthless and he has to take it.
    “GOTGv2 was jokey as fuck and yet it made me care when obviously it wanted me to care. RAGNAROK didn’t make me care as much when it clearly wanted me too.”
    Um, yeah…that’s what I’m saying? I not that I have a Joke Quota Limit that I think Ragnarok exceeded. I just think the movie has little else its interested in, and when it does go for something more heavy, it often uses a joke to ruin it, like Korg’s interjections at the end of the movie when THAT event happens. GOTG and ANT-MAN were both flat out comedies, and they worked as that, but they also had an actually developed emotional core to their stories of “group of broken people who come together to be better than they were” and “perpetual failure redeems himself to live up to the idea of who his daughter thinks he is” respectively. I can’t easily identify whatever equivalent of that that RAGNAROK has.
    “It’s almost like people forget the moments of gravitas they’ve done (and done decently) because it might you know get in the way of their argument. I think back to two moments in CIVIL WAR I loved that most people missed or forgot. Black Panther fails to save his dad. It simple, cut down to the chase, and boy I would be stunned if his movie didn’t capitalize on that scene. Or that climax when Cap slams the shield into the ground, Stark really thought by his defensive posture his former co-worker was going to kill him. Jesus.”
    CIVIL WAR? You mean the movie that actually had 3 major things of consequence happen to the Avengers with 1. Rhodey being paralysed 2. Half the Avengers being locked up in prison 3. Tony hating Steve to the point he arguably tries to kill him, only for the final 5 minutes of the movie to feature 1. Rhodey already well on the way to recovery via prosthesis, 2. Steve breaking them out 3. Tony being so affected by Steve’s “sorry, not sorry” letter the movie ends on a comical note of his character snubbing General Ross rather than maybe thinking he could use Steve’s gift to try to capture him? At least Steve has given up the Captain America identity by discarding his costume and shield, but the weird thing about that is when I tried to compliment the movie on that at the time, people actually tried to argue with me that that’s not what happened and that I was being wilfully ignorant that Black Panther could just make him a new costume and shield, missing the point. So yeah, it does seem that people DO miss the actual moments of gravitas, based on that.
    And yeah, Black Panther had gravitas in the film with his whole story line. I did make the point that I think his movie can do that for him, and his depiction in CW is part of that.

  25. Before it was given to the Sinister guy. or even announced for that matter, I really thought Marvel should of given Doctor Strange to Timur Bekmambetov, and let him go as crazy as he wanted. It would silence all of the “Marvel takes no chances, and has no original vision” people, and if it ended up being an absolute incoherent mess (which is very possible with Bekmambetov) nobody really cares about Doctor Strange in the same way they care about Hulk or Spidey, so no harm no foul.

    And truth to be told, I just REALLY wanted to see a Bekmambetov Doctor Strange flick. That shit would have been SO ILL

  26. I’m not sure about T:R being called a comedy here – it had some actual dramatic tension, conflicts and proper character arcs for all major players. It shifted tones for sure, but so do the Spielberg movies or Sorkin’s stuff.

  27. “it had some actual dramatic tension, conflicts and proper character arcs for all major players”

    That more or less also applies to GALAXY QUEST. Just sayin’.

  28. After SPIDER-MAN: I SHOULD’VE JUST STREAMED THIS MOVIE I think I’ll pass. I’ll just keep waiting on BLACK PANTHER.

  29. Did anyone else think Urban was channelling Jason Statham in his performance?

  30. Good call Stu.

    I think Black Panther looks bad ass, btw. After Thor and Guardians, it’ll be good to get back to Earth. I did not see Spider-Man man yet, btw.

  31. Just saw this last night in the IMAX-3D-OSCOPE format, which it is totally worth paying 2x ticket price if you like these kinds of movies, and if you don’t, then you shouldn’t. But if you do, then you should hop to, because JUSTICE LEAGUE is taking over those screens on Friday.

    This is a great Marvel movie. And it’s a great movie, period. No – it is not CITIZEN KANE or THE GODFATHER, because the source material itself doesn’t try to reach those heights. That’s just not what this is. It might not be your cup of tea. That’s cool. Go see LADY BIRD or whatever blows up your skirt. (Totally not knocking LADY BIRD, or KANE, or THE GODFATHER – they’re great!)

    This is a PRODUCT. The studios are out to make money. They don’t care about “art” or “history” or give a crap if we’re going to be watching the movie ten, twenty, thirty years from now. They want the Product out there, they want to get the money, and then they want to get the next Product out there. That is the world that we’re living in. And no amount of crying, kicking, or screaming is going to change that.

    BUT. If the Product happens to be made by really cool people, and it turns out to have interesting visuals with excellent performances, a kickass soundtrack, lotsa laughs, and some great fight scenes? THAT is a Product that I’ll pay money to see, and I’ll definitely check out the next one. Because that’s a victory, even though it’s a Product, and I want to encourage them to keep having cool people MAKE the Product.

    And when the Product is a soulless, hollow, shallow, awful piece of witless garbage make by morons? Then I don’t go see that. And maybe the studios won’t assign the next Product to the moron, and might give it to a cool person. We’ll see.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I ENJOY these Marvel products, and I know exactly what they are. And as long as they’re good, I’ll go see them.

  32. Nef, thank you for your thoughts on the low hanging fruit in Man of Steel’s tights.

  33. I saw this tonight and fucking loved it. I have given a hard pass to most Marvel (and all DC) movies lately but between the director here and the kick-ass trailers I was pumped to go see this and was not disappointed. If anything, it actually exceeded my expectations by about a thousand fold. I did not read much about it ahead of time so I thought it would be like half comedy…I think this is the best pure comedy that I’ve seen in a long time. And it’s especially amazing that he pulled this off with a THOR movie because it’s a pretty terrible character. And the first THOR movie is one of the most boring movies I’ve ever seen. Anyway, this was a very fun movie.

    It’s weird that Vern says Taiki is known for WWDITS and the “great” Hunt for the Wilderpeople. The latter was an OK movie and the former is one of the funniest movies in the last decade or so.

    Also, Tessa Thompson really impressed me in this movie. I did not recognize her at all as the lady from CREED until I looked it up afterwards. I really did not like her in CREED but she was great in this one and is absolutely gorgeous.

    Pegsman – thanks for listing the cameos at the start. I recognized Matt Damon of course but had no clue on the other ones.

    I had an argument with the friend I saw this with – he was convinced that Korg was Rhys Darby.

  34. Oh, I have thought of something I like with the story, thinking about it. As much as I find the Hela reveal a bit full of holes and questions, it does give greater context to Odin’s character in the first two movies, why he would be determined to avoid all out war in the first movie even though provoked and all but assured victory, as well why he wouldn’t foster Thor’s desire to pursue it. Also why Frigga’s death in the second one triggers him being so willing to sacrifice everyone else to get revenge.

  35. I saw the first ‘Guardians’ movie shortly after losing my Dad & there were a couple of moments during the movie where I cried. Obviously, it wasn’t all about the movie, but I found the opening scene on Earth incredibly moving & also the scene toward the end where Groot protects the rest of the Guardians by wrapping them within his branches.
    Also, very much the scene from ‘Winter Soldier’ that you refer to…. my Mum died from an Altzheimer’s related illness! Thanks Marvel!!
    I’ve watched most of these films more than once, I think similarly to how I’d read the comics over & over as a kid…. I guess I’ve got too much time on my hands!? There’s definitely stuff in most of them that would warrant more than one viewing, but maybe after 2 or 3 you’d be done?
    Whatever, I’m glad these movies are here. I’m old now, but still realise that the 10 year old me would have lost his freaking mind if these films had existed back in 70’s & early 80’s….

  36. “Nobody checked for stragglers or pets or anything, they just act like everyone is accounted for,”
    They had an all seeing omnipitent dude with them, he’d know instnatly weather or not they’d left anyone behind.

  37. Ben – nobody accepted that explanation from me when it was Superman, but you have me beat with the weather pun.

  38. I appreciate you taking that as a weather pun and not just the evidence of my awful spelling that it actually is.

  39. Another Typical Marvel movie: in one eye out the other. A movie I thoroughly enjoyed watching and will probably never watch again. Another 30 minutes cgi final big boss slog fest that looks like every video game I have ever played with one boss for each good guy. The difference is that it is a genuinely funny movie, probably gave me more laughs than any recent “hard R” movies I have seen recently (horrible bosses 2, Dirty grandpa, I can’t even think of 20 others that I could plug in). Funny I kept thinking of the latest Ghostbusters because of Hemsworth and this is a million times funnier, which is sad.
    Congrats Marvel for taking my $10 (matinee), entertaining me for 2.5 hours, getting me to sit through all the fucking credits, and never seeing your movie again.


  41. Hey the recent comments works again.

  42. So, um, the thing about Thanos is that he looks really goofy, huh? That’s an interesting artistic direction to go in and I don’t know if I agree.

  43. The Undefeated Gaul

    November 30th, 2017 at 7:24 am

    I think he looks pretty cool. He looks/feels like Brolin instead of just a soulless blob of CGI, which is good. Looks much better than he does in the comics in any case

  44. Serious question: Does anybody actually think ANY comic book character looks cool? To me, they ALL look goofy. That’s just the nature of the beast. They’re all wearing idiotic leotards left over from the wardrobe conventions of circus strongmen and capes from carnival magicians from the turn of the century, colored in finger-paint primaries to appeal to children/because that was the printing technology at the time, and their gimmicks and names are only not laughable because everything becomes respectable if it manages to stick around long enough. Superman’s costume is dumb. The little wings on Captain America’s helmet are super dumb. Bats tend to have big round eats, not stupid pointy horns coming out of the top of their heads. Within these dumb conventions, you can create some interesting characters and tell some interesting stories, but occasionally having to put a big stupid purple chinface guy onscreen like it’s something you’d choose to do given your druthers is the cost of admittance. Seeing just how dumb a character they can get an award-winning actor to take seriously is one of the things that I live about comic book movies. It’s all SO dumb but SO serious. You don’t get that combination much.

    tl;dr: Stupid purple guy is stupid because duh.

  45. Like, when somebody says “Thanos looks goofy” I assume there’s an unsaid “…unlike all these other weirdos who look totally stylish and not ridiculous in their molded plastic chestplates and halloween masks and blue skin, which is a serious color for serious people, unlike purple, which is just preposterous I mean can you even?” at the end and I am silently judging you.

  46. I would say HEllboy looks cool, but he looks like the devil with a stone fist in a trenchcoat, so what’s not to like about it. Also something tells me that Vern might say “Blade”. But neither of them is in that Avengers movie, so it doesn’t matter.

    I’m a bit worried about the lack of real action shots in the trailer. Okay, they tried to make an atmospheric trailer, but what if Marvel was just worried to show the world the Russo Brothers post-action bullshit that they gave us previously? When we are lucky, they hired the same 2nd unit directors who did the airport fight in CIVIL WAR.

  47. Mr M — Well, it depends on what you mean by “goofy.” Yes, every super hero is inherently sort of goofy in a real-world sense. The whole conceit is completely goofy. But there’s a big difference between silly but brilliant iconic design, and silly but visually dull design. Yes, Superman’s tights are are unrealistic in the real world, but from a design standpoint they’re unparallelled. The way the blue limbs, contrasted with the red cap, draw your eye to the angular, minimalist S symbol in the middle, all in bold contrasting primary colors, would be the envy of any design major. You could put that basic design on a country’s flag, quite comfortably. The Joker stole Conrad Veidt’s face and stuck it at the top of an absurd purple dandy suit as a grotesque parody of bourgeois sophistication. Even Loki, with his dumbass horns and vertical parallel green black and gold lines, looks pretty good (see: Waititi’s cool shot of him emerging from the mist in RAGNAROK). Hell, even boring Lee Pace in GotG sports an interesting, blunt silhouette due to his weird hat or shaw or whatever, which gives him the general ambiance of a ball peen hammer.

    Thanos, with his big pastel purple chin and tiny, sad human eyes, is not a triumph of design. He just looks drab and lumpy. That’s not a design that George Lucas would have even allowed as a background character. A better design would instantly convey to us the peril he embodies for our heroes and his big reveal would have significantly more impact (it doesn’t help that the Russo brothers seem to have absolutely no concept of atmosphere whatsoever, and shoot him looking like a dork in broad daylight, where nobody looks cool and menacing [even Pinhead in HELLRAISER 3 fails this challenge]).

    To be fair, Thanos is a bad design in the comics too, so they would have to significantly redesign him if they wanted to avoid this pitfall (although at least his lack of eyes on the page adds a certain menace which is lost with Josh Brolin’s peepers staring balefully out at us). But a bolder production team would have looked at the stuff they’d already shot and said “this isn’t working, we need something that reads more threatening” before they decided to anchor a 300 million dollar movie around the idea that this is a unique menace even more dire than all those other times the world has been threatened by some big guy in blue makeup or whatever.

    So yes, all comic book characters are inherently goofy, as are superheroes as a basic concept, and generally these movies have been at their best when they lean into that and don’t try to reinvent the wheel. But Thanos, especially after all the buildup, is a poor design compounded by disinterested visual framing (his introduction as we see it in the trailer is damn near heroic in the way it emphasizes his macho chin serious confident eyes). That’s a big distinction in my book. Sometimes goofy is fun and colorful and dynamic, but without some strong visual impact it can deflate very fast.

  48. Oh sure. I was just giving you a hard time. I’m generally just one of those guys who finds the visual tropes of superheroes to be a necessary evil and not, like, the whole point of the enterprise. I’m there for the personalities and the action possibilities the superpowers hold. The rest of it is just branding. So I like when they’re matter-of-fact about the absurdity of the way these characters look. “Here is a big purple guy in broad daylight. Deal with it.”

    Also I haven’t watched that trailer because what? It’s gonna make a difference in whether I see the movie or not?

  49. Fair enough. Honestly just watching the trailer made me tired.

  50. Funny how much this one’s plot inspired Black Panther (the villain’s motivation and backstory, the whole “our empire is built on lies/sins of the father” subplot, etc…). Also funny how much this liberally borrows from Chronicles of Riddick. (Act 1 is all setup for a highfalutin, Shakespearean space opera, Act 2 is a long detour to a junky space prison planet, Act 3 is a prison break and return to the site of Act 1 with some new prison friends to battle for the throne. Also there’s a scene where the hero is dangling in a cave while wrapped up in chains, and both have Karl Urban as a supporting baddie). The whole thing is familiar and kinda airless, but that’s not the point- this is the first actual comedy in the MCU movie to date- it’s like they took the complaints about the series not being serious enough, then doubled down on the humor but actually made it funny this time. There’s so much improv comedy here (even more in the deleted scenes) and the cast’s infectious energy comes through. Goldblum is in full parody mode, Ruffalo is suddenly doing a weird Woody Allen impression, everyone seems to be on the verge of laughing in half their scenes, but it all works (Watch Baywatch for an example of improv comedy gone wrong).

    This is a classic case of success and cockiness leading to good things – Marvel could have kept churning out the same thing over and over, they know each new MCU movie is a license to print money and people will see this film no matter what. But instead they handed the keys to an interesting indie filmmaker and practically rebooted the entire series into a goofy spiritual successor to Big Trouble in Little China. I hope Waititi keeps making Thor movies in between his other films.

    *Note: Can you imagine what would happen if Natalie Portman wanted to keep being in these movies? The entire plot would have to be catered around Jane and Thor again, and we’d miss a great new character in Valkyrie. So interesting that the biggest star from the first movie exited the series and nobody even really noticed.

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