Thor Ragnarok Spoiler Review

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok.)

No one would ever accuse the Marvel Cinematic Universe of being dark and serious, but with Thor: Ragnarok, Marvel goes into full-comedy mode, crafting their funniest film to date. Perhaps finally realizing how inconsequential and dry the Thor films have been, Marvel hired What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople director Taika Waititi and let him go wild. The results are laugh-out-loud funny, albeit with a caveat: Thor: Ragnarok cares more about landing a great punchline or sight-gag than it does about plot. 

Is There Such Thing as Too Much Fun?

But perhaps we’ve reached a point with the MCU where plot doesn’t really matter anymore. Thor: Ragnarok’s overwhelmingly positive Rotten Tomatoes score (93% as of this writing) and bonafide box office success certainly seems to suggest so. This is slightly troubling. Even more so when you realize that Ragnarok has all the makings of something truly magnificent: a talented director, an incredibly charming cast, a pop art-infused color scheme that looks like it’s a combination of the art of Jack Kirby and parade of pinball machines lined-up on a boardwalk at sunset. Yet despite everything Ragnarok has going for it – and it has a lot – there’s a curious lack of weight to all it. The film’s fun nature is charming, but it reaches a point where you start to think Ragnarok is having almost too much fun, if such a thing is even possible.

Approaching reviewing Thor: Ragnarok this way seems like a journey down a dangerous path. “Can’t you just let the movie be fun?” might be the automatic reply to almost any criticism leveled against the film. Sure. There’s nothing wrong with fun. But is it really asking too much to want more? The Thor films have always been the weakest entries in the MCU. Even the troubled production that was Ant-Man delivered a more rewarding experience than the previous Thor films. Part of this can be chalked-up to tone. Thor is an inherently comical character, and star Chris Hemsworth has impressive comedic chops. But it took three films for Marvel to fully embrace the comedy elements of Thor.

The first Thor film, helmed by Kenneth Branagh with a Shakespearean touch, is a world removed from Ragnarok. It’s stuffy and dour in comparison. The ever-shifting tone of Thor plays hell with the character; we’ve now settled on Thor as a dumb blonde, a handsome oaf who is heroic when he’s not bumbling about. It suits the character well, but you can’t help shaking the sense that Marvel has had no idea just who they want Thor to be up until now.

These problems would be a lot less of a concern if this were the first entry in the series. But it’s the third. And what’s more, the film knows it’s the third entry: there’s literally nothing going on here to make Ragnarok stand out on its own in terms of storytelling. If you were to go into Ragnarok without having seen any other Thor or Marvel movie, you’d be absolutely lost as to what the hell is going on here. That’s weak storytelling. It’s the sort of approach that entrenches Thor: Ragnarok firmly into a middle-of-the-road bit of entertainment. It’s a brilliant distraction, but it could be so much more.

That said, when Thor: Ragnarok is working, it’s working really well. This is due almost entirely to the cast, who are individually stellar, and even better when working together. Almost every member of the main cast here has their own moments to shine, with some shining brighter than others. Even if Ragnarok’s script had been worse than it ultimately is, the film would still be worth it because it gave us the opportunity to spend time with these actors playing these characters. If only they had been able to come together in a better film.

Thor Ragnark Hela

“So much has happened since I last saw you!”

Thor: Ragnarok finds Thor, the God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) returning to Asgard after a failed quest to locate missing Infinity Stones (remember those things?). Before his homecoming, he’s had a run-in with the demonic Surtur, who warns Thor that he will bring about Ragnarok – the destruction of Asgard and the Gods. Thor mostly laughs these threats off, defeats Surtur, and comes home to find Asgard much changed. Heimdall (Idris Elba), the former guardian of the Bifrost, has vanished and been replaced by the bumbling Skurge (Karl Urban). Thor’s father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) has forgotten his duties and spends his days lounging about. There’s a reason for this: Odin is actually Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in disguise.

Almost instantly (Thor: Ragnarok is allergic to taking its time), Thor and Loki head to earth to find Odin. Along the way, they encounter Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in a funny sequence that nevertheless feels absolutely pointless to the film itself as a whole, but is simply in place to tie-into the post-credit scene at the end of Doctor Strange. After their brief sojourn with Strange, Thor and Loki locate Odin, who warns them that their evil sister Hela (Cate Blanchett), whom they never even knew about, is going to return soon. Then he promptly dies.

Before we have any idea what the hell is going on, Hela arrives, smashes Thor’s mighty hammer Mjolnir, and sends Thor and Loki flying off into the galaxy. Hela arrives at Asgard and swiftly begins a reign of terror, assisted by a somewhat reluctant Skurge, who both wants to be powerful and famous but also clearly has qualms about murdering his fellow Asgardians.

Thor ends up on Sakaar, a planet strewn with garbage, and is quickly captured by the drunken Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson, phenomenal), who transports a confused Thor to the palace of the planet’s head honcho, the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum, at his absolutely Jeff Goldblumiest). The only way Thor can win his freedom is by taking part in the Grandmaster’s gladiatorial matches and fight the Grandmaster’s mysterious, deadly champion. While still super-strong, Thor is hammerless, and thus not nearly as powerful as before. He agrees to fight anyway, and grows furious when he learns that Loki is on the planet too, living as a free man after having wormed his way into the Grandmaster’s good graces.

Meanwhile, back on Asgard, Heimdall has returned and is rounding up Asgardians and hiding them safely away from Hela, but it’s only a matter of time before Hela catches up to them. The only hope is for Thor to return and save the day.

Back on the Sakaar, the Grandmaster’s champion turns out to be none other than the Incredible Hulk, who doesn’t seem to remember Thor and promptly beats the shit out of him. Thor survives the brawl, however, and eventually convinces Valkyrie, a former Asgardian, to help him escape to save Asgard. The Hulk, transformed back into Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), comes along as well. Loki, ever the trickster, tries to turn on Thor, causing Thor to leave him behind. But since the MCU can’t decide what the hell they want to do with Loki, the character eventually has a change of heart and follows after Thor to help.

Back on Asgard, Thor and his new team – jokingly dubbed The Revengers – battle against Hela and her zombie army. Skurge has a change of heart, rebels against Hela, and is killed for his troubles. Thor is able to summon up his powers of thunder and lightning to best Hela, but she eventually proves too powerful and ends up causing Thor to lose one of his eyes. With all hope seems lost, Thor realizes the only way to stop Hela is to destroy Asgard completely. Loki unleashes Surtur, the demon from the beginning, who swiftly destroys Asgard as Thor, Loki, Valkyrie, Hulk, Heimdall and the surviving Asgardians head off into the galaxy aboard a huge ship.

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About the Author

Chris Evangelista is a staff writer and critic for /Film, and the host of the 21st Century Spielberg podcast. Follow him on Twitter @cevangelista413 or email him at