With the Marvel Cinematic Universe currently well into its Third Phase, after a plethora of stand alone and team based films, the novelty has certainly worn thin (for some, like me). The superhero genre has saturated the film and TV industry for the past decade and an end is certainly nowhere in sight with more and more film/TV adaptations, reboots and even animated films set to be released.
Marvel’s Phase One was certainly a breath of fresh air but now, with so many films and TV shows all geared up toward the ultimate superhero film showdown, Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel Studios seemed to have lost touch with what made their films and franchises popular in the first place; good old fashioned originality.
Thankfully, Marvel’s latest addition, Thor: Ragnarok, rectified the stale taste that some of the previous Marvel projects left (As a huge Marvel nerd, I wasn’t a fan of some of the previous films to be very honest and don’t get me started on the non-Netflix TV shows). Directed by New Zealand’s very own Taika Waititi of Hunt For The Wilderpeople fame, Thor: Ragnarok brings some much needed grit, humour and Kiwi ingenuity to the Marvel Universe in a way which reinvigorates, not only the Thor franchise, but the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe as well.
Right from the get go, the film breathes new life into the Asgardian hero and his fellow characters. Unlike previous iterations of the franchise, the characters in Thor: Ragnarok appear to be more ‘free’. Taika manages to bring out various aspects to the Thor characters that we’ve never seen before, such as a more intuitive, serious, yet carefree Thor (Chris Hemsworth), a good-natured Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who might actually give a damn about his family, and a more ‘human’ side to The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).
Along with more genuine characters, Taika manages to sneak in (well, not really sneak in because it’s really obvious to us Kiwis) a good chunk of Kiwi culture and humour, adding to the film’s personality, something that I personally found some previous films to lack.
The character interaction and the underlying theme of friendship, bonds and community were all marvelously portrayed, illustrating to viewers that there is much more to Thor and his friends than just brute force, godlike strength and abilities.
It is in Thor: Ragnarok that we truly see Thor shine as the famed God of Thunder and his path toward self-discovery is imbued with brilliant cameos (oh the cameos!), epic rock music and of course, the seductive display of Hemsworth’s incredible physique.
Though Hemsworth’s lustrous torso is a visual feat in itself, the visual masterpiece showcased in the film should not go unmentioned. As stunning as Asgard is, the entirety of Thor: Ragnarok appeared to be a visual masterpiece with brilliant displays of colour, contrasts and CGI graphics. Once again, Taika’s vision and unique direction was certainly a stand out feature of the film and it becomes quite obvious how far deep his influence on the film runs.
Thor: Ragnarok is by far one of the better Marvel films I’ve seen to date and this is predominantly attributed to the uniqueness that Taika Waititi brings as an indie director. With characters that appeared far more genuine and ‘human’, various visual aspects and a whole lot of fantastic laugh out loud moments, Thor: Ragnarok has set the bar high. Here’s hoping that other Marvel films are able to meet its standards.