This is the thought that kept going through my head while revisiting Thor on this runup to Infinity War. Back in 2011 I hated this movie, thought it was just simply the worst of the worst and a huge, boring misstep for Marvel Studios. Today I look at it and see that it’s a movie developed in a world where comic book movies hadn’t yet entered their modern age, and the film has echoes of a landscape where David Hasselhoff played Nick Fury and where superheroes and their enemies usually had their final battle in a warehouse, or on docks, or on a bridge. Marvel knew how to make more grounded characters like Iron Man or more familiar characters like the Hulk work, but Asgardian gods? Space cities? Magic and high weirdness? They weren’t quite ready to commit just yet. Looking back from the post-Thor: Ragnarok vantage point how can we say anything but “How quaint”?
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This is all spoilers.
Thor: Ragnarok is one of the most unusual blockbusters in recent years because it answers a question that has been haunting the edges of Hollywood’s latest round of overinflated, unasked for franchises: how do you finish out a trilogy of films about which nobody gives a single shit?
We can sit here and argue the relative merits of Thor and Thor: The Dark World all day long, but I think that we have to agree that these films are probably the least of all the Marvel Cinematic Universe works, and that out of all the MCU movies they’re the most like the sort of forced franchise that the public can’t really get worked up about (see the currently collapsing Dark Universe for an example of the forced franchise phenomenon reaching the end of its life cycle). Out of the initial wave of MCU characters, Thor had the most intriguing and offbeat source material, and yet it somehow never quite worked onscreen. Loki popped more than Thor or any of the Asgardian side characters. The movies made some money but never captured the popular imagination in a meaningful way; in comic book terms they’re the issues in a crossover event that you buy out of a weird materialistic sense of obligation.
Continue reading “Review: THOR RAGNAROK”