A perfect balance of humor and action makes ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ a fun ride

Out of all the characters to grace the silver screen from Marvel Studios, I’ve always seen Thor has the weakest of the solo trilogies. The origin story in Phase One was okay, but not as strong as the others in that phase. Thor: The Dark World was not terrible, but possibly the weakest out of ALL the entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and that says a lot, according to Rotten Tomatoes and the fresh score that movie still holds).

Entering Phase Three, we didn’t know what to expect from the God of Thunder in his third outing, his first appearance since Avengers: Age of Ultron. With fresh director, Taika Waititi, at the helm, fans were gifted with a wild, colorful adventure that possibly sets the stage for the future of the MCU.

While the Civil War raged on Earth, what was one of the original Avengers doing? Thor (Chris Hemsworth) was off on his own adventure to discover the purpose of the mythical infinity stones that has been the focal point of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since the first Avengers film. After he returns to Asgard and finds how much has changed, including a missing Oden (Anthony Hopkins), Thor reluctantly teams up with his adopted and morally challenged brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to find their father. With some mystical help on Earth, the Asgardians bond with their father one last time before his unfortunate departure. The all-father’s leaving opens the door for a dark force to arise: Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death.

Quickly dispatching of Thor, he lands on Sakkar, an intergalactic dump of a planet. Captured by hunters working for the eccentric Grandmaster, played hilariously by Jeff Goldblum, Thor must fight for his life in the gladiatorial arena and escape to prevent the destruction of Asgard in the prophesied Ragnarok. The fight won’t be easy as he comes face-to-face with Grandmaster’s champion and Hulk’s former ally, the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).

Thor has always been the more serious and Shakespearean of all the heroes, but audiences learned something last summer during the box-office bomb, Ghostbusters: Chris Hemsworth has serious comedy chops. As easily as he flexed his physical muscles in this film, Hemsworth gave his best performance as the God of Thunder by not taking himself seriously and making the audience laugh along with him. Tom Hiddleston and the rest of the cast followed suit as they were quick with the humor as the action came along with it. The evolution of the Hulk began to take shape in this film as fans found out what the green guy has been up to in the past two years. If we aren’t going to get another solo Hulk movie (thanks, Universal), he’s definitely worthy of a sidekick role. Even then, he still had wonderful moments. From his full on conversations with Thor to wearing Tony Stark’s close as the scrawny Dr. Banner, Mark Ruffalo gave fans another solid performance as the Hulk. My one regret with the characters was that we didn’t get enough time with Hela. Cate Blanchett played one of the most dangerous and threatening villains the MCU has had for a long time. Truly menacing and filled with vengeance, Hela was a force to be reckoned with. One performance that I can’t forget to mention that I wish we had more time with was Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie. Beautiful and able to handle herself in a fight, this bounty hunter wasn’t waiting for Thor to be a hero and save her from any predicaments. Valkyrie was tough, but hiding from her past and didn’t join the fight until a helpful nudge from the lost Asgardian.

Director Taika Waititi gave us a colorful and funny balance of humor and action, taking a page from Guardians of the Galaxy by moving away from the shades of gray that were in the previous Thor outings and giving fans a splash of color needed in the world of this pillar of the MCU.  Thor’s arc in this film was the most exciting as he was broken down but built back up to discover his true power. It’s a hero’s journey that this original Avenger needed to keep him fresh for when he reunites with Earth’s Mightest Heroes next Summer.  While there were a few things you could find to pick at over the film, Thor: Ragnarok was funny, exciting, and all around fun throughout its two hour, ten minute run time. Not only did it set a new standard for future Marvel films, it set the stage for next Summer’s Avengers: Infinity War.

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