Thor: Ragnarok Offends Some Comic Fans – But it’s Still Great!

Editorial: ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ sucked – say all real fans of Thor’s comics.

If you went to see Hulk: Ragnarok this weekend, you may have been a member of a select group of haters, who felt this last installment of the Thor franchise was the worst, most cookie cutter of movies ever created. It had not a single redeeming feature and everyone who was involved should be taken out back with a baby seal club and shown the error of their ways.

I enjoyed Thor: Ragnarok. I laughed despite myself. Loud, boisterous, humorous, completely without a serious plot, a mishmash of different comics, creators and eras and yet still strangely compelling. It’s not going to win any awards, but I wasn’t expecting it to. What it did for me was something else entirely.

I grew up on the myths of Thor and Loki and their adventures. Young Thor and young Loki were always in trouble. Going places they weren’t supposed to, disturbing things they had no business, and visiting Jotenheim even thought it was forbidden. They were princes! Rules were for the little people. This movie had the tone and tenor of those adventures. Two brothers so vastly different, yet struggling to, in their own ways, prove their worth to their disapproving father. The same father who set them against each other, presumably to bring them closer together.

Thor, played by Chris Hemworth, and scene-stealing Tom Hiddleston as Loki  were together again, in a legendary fashion, against a menace they could barely understand; with the threat of the Grandmaster and embroiled in secretive family business, over their heads as so many of the legends tell us they were. They were fractious, contentious, each dealing with the complexities of their circumstances while remaining true to their nature, fighting as a family like they did in legends. The interaction of these two characters made the movie for me.

Bartender, bromances for all my friends

There was the other bromance going on with Thor and Hulk trying to connect. The Hulk having had two years to learn language was now able to communicate like a seven year old. Thor, over a thousand years old behaved almost as badly. When Banner returns to the scene, things could scarcely get any worse. Or any funnier. Mark Ruffalo hams it up and makes Hulk’s temporary disappearance both reasonable and necessary.

There was so much for fans to deconstruct, if they weren’t choking on the movie’s supposed imperfections. The easter eggs, the guest appearances, the shocking turns of events, the sight gags all made the first two, duller than drying paint, movies, Thor and Thor: The Dark World, almost worth putting up with.  As rabid a fan of Thor as I was, I could barely stand either of them.  Thor: Ragnarok is over the top. And I think that’s why I like it. Not as tongue in cheek as Guardians of the Galaxy but certainly more fun than Thor and Circumstances (also known as Thor, and Thor: The Dark World.)

As serious as the first two movies were, they never captured anything other than how dry Asgard was. How serious. How pompous. This was the first time I saw any Asgardians look like they were having fun. At least while it lasted. Loki may have made the trains run on time, but he definitely wasn’t keeping his eye on the big picture while he ran Asgard.

The addition of the Valkyrie played by Tessa Thompson was wonderful. Her screen presence so big, we didn’t even realize Sif wasn’t around, never mind Jane ‘Whats-her-name-again?’ Working as Scrapper 142, she seemed highly capable, incredibly ruthless and yet still so damn approachable. Thor looked like even he might be smitten with her awesomeness.

While Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster was not the scary menace he has been known to be in the comics, he  didn’t start off that way in the comics either. We only learn how dangerous he was years later. Playing him the way they did was a great way to extend the character: playing him ditsy but truly dangerous. If he gets another turn at the wheel, maybe we can see how scary he could be.

The movie was brutal, though. Since they weren’t coming back here, they went through the cast like a hot knife through butter. Nope. Not telling you, but Hela plays for keeps. Cate Blanchett played her role of Hela so well, I wish she had gotten to do more with it.

Karl Urban’s Skurge was a rat. A rat with strong survival instincts. I like this guy. I am hopeful he continues to get work in the sci-fi movies. I always enjoy his portrayals. He almost made me sympathetic to Skurge the Executioner.

Had to give the character, Hogun the Grim (Todanabu Asano), his props. He didn’t get to do much in the first two movies but this time, he was a boss. Since I want to keep this spoiler-free, its time to talk to the fans who are poisoning the well.

A Public Service Announcement

I made the mistake of reading comments online. I should know better but I couldn’t help myself.

I am involved in so many online forums, its hard to avoid. There were the standard whines of none of the characters resembled their comic counterparts. These were levied at the Grandmaster, Scrapper 142, Heimdall and Hela.

Then there were the story purists who insisted none of the characters were themselves and the writers should be shot. For those people I have to say this simple thing. Thor (hell, any superhero movie made these days) was not made for you.

They’re made up of a potpourri of stories, some written over thirty years ago with screenplays focused on, not the knowledgeable fans in mind, but with people who have just the barest knowledge about the characters. As they should be. These are the new fans they hope to recruit, to bring back to the movies. The same people who wouldn’t know Thor, God of Thunder from Thor, God of Hammers…

This means there will be few nuances you find familiar. It will have jokes you probably won’t like. It will probably feature ethnicities you are not fond of, especially if you are a comic purist who believes every White character should stay White despite the racist connotations associated with this.

Movies are entertainment and have only one job. To make money. Their being entertaining is actually second. Because if they are entertaining but don’t make money, they and their ilk are unlikely to be seen again. Movies are made by committees. They are tested, proofed, screened, rewritten, and re-shot at times, to get a desired result. If they don’t appeal to you comic purists who have been reading comics for thirty years, I am not surprised. You came to the theater with expectations. And now you’re upset.

You can expect to be disappointed. Not because movie companies don’t want your money. But because when all is said and done, you and the comic purists like you, who insist:

  • Thor couldn’t win against Surtur;
  • Beta Ray Bill would’ve made Thor better;
  • that all Valkyries were White women;
  • the Midgard Serpent should’ve appeared;
  • the Fenris Wolf looked terrible;
  • Odin didn’t die on the battlefield;
  • Hela is a relative of the crown;
  • Skurge was a weasel, (okay that’s true) and that Thor, in this humorous mode, was the worst rendition of the character and worst Marvel property ever seen — are in the minority.

Who could possibly have hated the battle between the Hulk and Thor? They did. To me, I have waited for almost a decade to watch this battle of the titans be rendered. It was magnificent!

All of you who are hating it are complaining into a headwind.  The bottom line for Disney/Marvel is — people liked it. Almost as important, critics liked it.

Thor: Ragnarok packed theaters this weekend, it made money and is projected to make money hand over fist for a few weeks. Since the actors who play Thor, Captain America and Iron Man have ended their contracts, the movies we have with them will likely be their last in their singular roles. Each series ended in a transformative way, and in the case of Thor, nothing was more transformative than the end of his world, in a literal sense.

If you’re dissatisfied, if you think you can do better, then get off your mom’s sofa in the basement, climb out into the sun, scream in agony as you slather on your sunblock, get a screen-writing degree, break into Hollywood in your sixties, and write the movie treatment for Thor you think he should have had, and have it makes money…

Maybe then we will give a damn what you think about it. Get over yourselves. Let people enjoy the movie. More importantly, cheer for the movie. It’s success means Marvel gets another attempt to bring you a movie you might actually like. If Ragnarok failed, this would have challenged their interest in making future developments. This is the golden age of superhero movies. Its like we may never see again.

Go see Thor: Ragnarok. It’s a blast. Don’t listen to the haters. They are legion. You don’t go to the movies for a dissertation on quantum mechanics. Don’t worry. You won’t get one. You will simply be entertained in the fashion only an unrestrained Thor (and Hulk) can provide.

#LokiRedeemed until he gets Thor in trouble again. It’s his nature. It’s why we love him. Team Thor, you did great and looked good doing it. What a great way to end a series.

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