I’m kicking off this entry in MCU March with an addendum. In the Ant-Man post, I said that movie was my favorite of the “overtly comedic Marvel movies.” Clearly I had forgotten about Thor: Ragnarok and how great this movie is when I wrote that. I think it’s safe to say that this is my favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe film (and I double checked the list so I won’t have to make this addendum again). I guess after rewatching all these movies, I have a soft spot for the God of Thunder.
Finding the Nine Realms in turmoil, Thor returns to Asgard to confront “Odin,” who is actually Loki in disguise. The brothers head to Earth to find their father, encountering Doctor Strange along the way. But Odin dies, which unleashes Hela, the God of Death (Mrs. Cate Blanchett), Odin’s firstborn. She destroys Mjolnir and tosses the brothers out of the Bifrost’s teleporting beam, sending them to the garbage planet Sakaar. Hela kills the Warriors Three and takes over Asgard. On Sakaar, Thor is forced to become a gladiator after Scrapper 142 (Tessa Thompson) sells him to the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). He meets up with the Hulk, who has been avoiding turning into Banner for 2 years. Thor, Hulk, Scrapper 142–who is revealed to be a Valkyrie but never properly named in the film–a reluctant Loki, and other gladiators like Korg (voiced by director Taika Waititi) and Miek manage to escape Sakaar, heading to Agard to stop Hela. They can’t, but realizing that the draws her strength from Asgard itself, they bring about Ragnarok by unleashing the fire demon Surtur (voiced by Clancy Brown), who promptly destroys the world and Hela. Thor decides to take his allies and the surviving Asgardians to Earth.
The mid-credits scene teases the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War where Thanos encounters the Asgardians. Spoiler, but it does not end well. The post-credits scene is more of Jeff Goldblum, because that’s what the Grandmaster is–Jeff Goldblum doing his best Jeff Goldblum impression.
I love this movie. It’s got the right balance of comedy, action, drama, and heartfelt moments that just works for me. Plus the soundtrack for a lot of Sakaar is 80’s synthwave, and that’s my jam. This is my second favorite version of Loki–my favorite still being him in the first Thor–and my favorite version of Thor. The more you think about the previous movies, the more you realize that he hadn’t really lived up to the title of “God of Thunder.” Sure, he threw some lightning every so often, but he truly could’ve been better described–as Odin sarcastically put it–as the “God of Hammers.” Here his powers are unleashed and his destiny of becoming king of Asgard comes true, complete with him losing an eye just like Odin. Too bad that detail and a lot of his character development is tossed out the window pretty quickly in Avengers: Infinity War, but still.
So… how do the Asgardians work, exactly? I know, I know, these things fall apart if you think about them too much, but really, what’s up with that? It sure seems like there are three tiers of Asgardians: The first are the normal ones, who may be slightly stronger than normal humans but never really show any signs of above-human levels of strength. An example are the guards to die nearly instantly when facing Hela. The second are the warriors, people like Sif and the Warriors Three who are very strong, but don’t seem to have any special powers. And the third are the “gods,” beings like Odin, Thor, and Hela who have superpowers. But they’re not gods, as the movies remind us constantly, so what sets them apart from everyone else? Why do Hela and Thor have powers when Sif and Scrapper 142 are just super tough? In fact, how old is Sif? What’s her lifespan like? Is it comparable to Thor, who has been alive for over a thousand years? I have so many questions, but the MCU wiki has so little answers! Doesn’t detract from the movie, but my husband started asking questions and it snowballed from there.
COMIC BOOK FUN FACT! Gladiator Hulk is directly pulled from the Planet Hulk storyline from Incredible Hulk #92-105 (2006-7). See, the smartest people in the Marvel universe decided to put the Hulk on a rocket and send him to a peaceful planet–taking full credit, a very, very stupid decision–but nothing goes according to plan and he ended up in the gladiatorial wasteland planet of Sakaar. Forced to fight by the tyrannical Red King, Hulk befriends other fighters like Korg and Miek. Instead of encountering Thor on Sakaar, Hulk fights the Silver Surfer in the arena, because sure, why not. Eventually the citizens and slaves rebel against the Red King, believing Hulk to either be the savior Sakaarson or the destructive Worldbreaker. He was kind of both? With the Red King defeated Hulk becomes the Green King, but when the shuttle that brought Hulk to Sakaar explodes, devastates the planet and kills his pregnant wife, Caiera (the son survived through comic bullshit), Hulk decides it’s time to get revenge on those who threw him into space, starting the World War Hulk event.
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