In my review of Thor: Ragnarok, (WARNING: A friend of mine told me that there appears to be a bitcoin miner operating on Entertainment Fuse – the issue is being resolved, but keep that in mind before clicking) I talked about how the movie’s wacky space adventure antics didn’t quite gel with some of its heftier plot points and character moments. In the interest of remaining spoiler-free, I was as vague as possible, since there are a lot of major developments and revelations in that movie.
In this post, I’ll drop any such considerations and share my thoughts on Thor: Ragnarok using full on [SPOILERS], so consider yourselves warned.
In Thor: Ragnarok, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) discovers that he has a long lost sister – Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death. Odin’s firstborn and therefore rightful heir to the throne of Asgard, Hela helped her father conquer the Nine Realms but was locked way and written out of history when her ambitions grew too great and sinister.
Odin (Anthony Hopkins), as it turns out, was a violent warlord who gained dominance over the Nine Realms with brute force. In his later years, out of guilt or remorse over his actions, he became a benevolent, peaceful ruler and dedicated his life to the safety and the prosperity of the Nine Realms. Those dark, early chapters of Asgard’s rise, however, were deliberately erased from history.
Thor realizes that he and his companions cannot defeat Hela and that the only way to stop her is through Ragnarok, i.e. destroying both Hela and Asgard – the source of her power – in one fell swoop.
So, ultimately, despite Odin’s best efforts to redeem it from its shameful past, Asgard was a built on an unsustainable lie. Not only was its true history revealed for all to see and its dominion over the other realms revoked, it was, in the end, destroyed for its sins.
Sure, the people of Asgard survived and escaped, but the realm itself was the victim of a reckoning long overdue.
That alone would have been enough to make this the darkest MCU movie of them all, but Thor: Ragnarok also features the death of Odin,Thor losing both his hammer and an eye and Valkyrie’s horrific backstory of witnessing all of her comrades die at the hands of Hela.
There’s also the fact that Hulk has apparently murdered a lot of gladiators in the arena, quite a few of which were probably kidnapped and forced to fight against their will – hell, maybe even all of them were. Oh, and a lot of Thor’s buddies from the previous movies are brutally and non-ceremoniously killed off by Hela, so there’s that.
That’s a lot of really dark shit to have happen in something as colorful, gleefully stupid and incredibly silly as Thor: Ragnarok and the movie simply isn’t equipped to handle it. The fact that it even brings a lot of this up is both ambitious and admirable, but for the most part it barely scratches the surface.
It’s a movie that wants to have fun and wants you to have fun with it, so any time any of the really dark stuff is brought up, it feels out of place. Thor: Ragnarok is unwilling to fully commit to its own darkness, but it also clearly has bigger aspirations than just being a goofy space fantasy adventure.
That underlying tension holds it back a lot and it’s the reason why I gave it a 7/10 in my review. Other Marvel movies might have had inappropriately light moments, but they’ve generally had a strong balance between silly and serious, as well as a willingness to explore serious questions, complex themes and meaningful drama.
On the surface, Thor: Ragnarok is easily one of the lightest and most irreverent Marvel movies out there, but it also contains many of its darkest moments by far. You can see the potential for what honestly could have been Marvel’s greatest movie yet, but it just lacks the cohesion and focus to pull all of it off.