What Should We Expect From Thor: Ragnarok?
The Thor films have often been viewed as the lesser entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While I enjoyed the first Thor film, I can’t help but agree that both Thor and Thor: The Dark World suffer from dullness and a lack of creativity when compared to the rest of the MCU. Films like Ant-Man, which presented itself as a heist film, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which played out as a political thriller, pushed the boundaries of what a super-hero film could be by incorporating other genres. The Thor films, while taking place in a fantastical setting, feel far more conventional in terms of storytelling and style. The only stand out element to many is Tom Hiddleston’s performance as Loki.
However, having selected the odd choice of Taika Waititi to direct the third Thor film, the project now looks far more interesting, especially when considering what else the film has to offer. We should expect a truly unconventional Thor film, that will again push the boundaries of what a superhero film can be. If you want firsthand proof of this, watch the first promotional video released for the film.
So the first, and most obvious way in which Thor: Ragnarok will differentiate itself from the rest of the MCU is in its tone. Anyone who has seen Hunt for the Wilderpeople knows that director Waititi has a very unique sense of humor and storytelling. The film, which I highly recommend, centers on a young adolescent and an old man lost in the New Zealand wilderness, being chased by the police spoilers here<<after the child accidently implies that his companion had been sexually assaulting him>>. Hunt for the Wilderpeople managed to be tender, hilarious, and extremely odd all at once. While Thor: Ragnarok may not mirror this tone exactly, it will likely turn out very close to it, which is something I did not expect in 2014 when the film was announced.
When Thor: Ragnarok was announced in 2014, I anticipated a far different film that what seems to be coming. Ragnarok is essentially the Asgardian apocalypse, and given the first poster that was released, I expected a dark, moving, and powerful epic to cap off the Thor trilogy. I thought that Marvel would deliver a Lord of the Rings style of film leading up to Infinity War.
Much has changed since the film was announced, not only in the project’s image, but in the MCU as a whole. The Avengers have been fractured, Spider-Man and Black Panther have been introduced, Thor and Hulk have wandered off, and Infinity War is rapidly approaching. Rather than delivering a fantasy epic, Waititi said “I think TR will be one of the most adventurous and most ‘out there’ of all the Marvel movies…It’s a crazy movie.”
While this confused me at first, I now believe that Waititi may be onto something. For one, Avengers: Infinity War is going to be an enormous epic, pitting nearly every character in the MCU against Thanos. While it may differ in style and tone from The Lord of the Rings or Ben-Hur (1959, not 2016), the relative scale of the three stories will likely be comparable. Given that Thor: Ragnarok may be Thor’s last solo outing, it might be a good idea to stray away from what the Russo brothers plan to do in their Avengers film.
While the true tone and scale of Avengers: Infinity War will not be seen until 2018, it’s a fairly safe bet to assume the film will head into an epic and massive direction. Thor: Ragnarok may still tell an enormous story, but the film will likely end up closer to in style to Guardians of the Galaxy, which had raised the stakes to the scale of an entire planet, yet still felt somewhat small when compared to an epic like Lord of the Rings.
Given the tone we should expect; our attention can now turn to the film’s story. If Ragnarok will play out like a crazy and bizarre film about the end of the world, what exactly does that entail?
We know that the Hulk will take center stage alongside Thor, and taking into account the tone that is being attempted, his inclusion into the Asgardian setting makes sense. There are many possible storylines that can be created with Banner’s presence, and the most likely is a Planet Hulk like narrative. In Planet Hulk, Banner was banished from Earth by his fellow Avengers because he was deemed too dangerous. Once banished, the Hulk crashed into a new world in which he was forced to fight as a gladiator.
Thor: Ragnarok’s setting and story will likely change significant details about the Planet Hulk storyline, if it is included at all. I try to stay away from speculation because I feel that it hinders some of the film-going experience, although I understand the joy in it.
So, without diving headfirst into speculation, we should expect Thor: Ragnarok to be an eccentric, and odd film. Ragnarok does include many characters and has many plotlines to resolve before Infinity War begins, and this leads to the truly large concern.
With so much to set up and conclude, this is where Ragnarok could seriously falter. The film promises the introduction of characters played by Cate Blanchet, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neil, has to resolve the cliff hanger at the end of Thor: The Dark World, in which spoilers here<< Loki becomes the king of Asgard, and Odin’s location is left as a mystery>>, and has to set the table for Infinity War on a cosmic scale on top of everything previously mentioned.
Captain America: Civil War had a colossal number of storylines to introduce and conclude and somehow managed to work, but films such as The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Suicide Squad did as well, and their quality was less desirable.
A major problem facing blockbusters in recent years has been the foreknowledge of sequels, because the more elements the film includes the more difficult it is to construct a cohesive and well balanced product. I have faith in the film’s director, and for that reason I am willing to give the film the benefit of the doubt. Thor: Ragnarok could be a gem within the MCU, or it could implode. We will have to wait until 2017 to find out.