It is pretty evident just from the trailers of Thor: Ragnarok that the film is very different from the previous two Thor movies.
It’s not just the fact that the hairstyle of Thor (portrayed by Chris Hemsworth) has changed. It’s not just about what a visual treat the film promises to be or the fact that its teaser trailer used Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song as background music in such a splendid way.
The primary reason why we are excited about Thor: Ragnarok is because the film — packed with many legendary and talented actors — promises to be a crucial story in the Marvel Cinematic Universe which will hopefully be grander, funnier and, at the same time, more nuanced than the previous Thor films.
When a film has Cate Blanchett playing the Asgardian goddess of death, Tessa Thompson (who effortlessly portrays the cunning and confident Charlotte Hale in Westworld) playing the superhero Valkyrie, and Mark Ruffalo returning as The Hulk, it is tough not to get excited for a film.
But high expectations can also lead to huge disappointments. And therefore, we sincerely hope that Ragnarok has learnt from the successes and failures of the previous Thor movies.
What’s happened so far
It was in May 2011 that we were introduced to Thor, the powerful but arrogant Asgardian god of thunder. In Thor, other principal characters like Odin (Thor’s father and portrayed by none other than Anthony Hopkins), Jane Foster (astrophysicist and Thor’s love interest, portrayed by Natalie Portman), Heimdall (portrayed by Idris Elba), and of course, the best villain the MCU has created so far: Loki (portrayed by Tom Hiddleston).
The plot revolved around Thor being banished from his home and sent to live among human beings on earth to learn humility. While the film did give us some of the most important characters in the MCU right now, the mostly cliched characters, predictable plot and the brat-turns-into-boy-scout portrayal of Thor were a bit off-putting.
The sequel Thor: The Dark World did not do much to get rid of the demerits which plagued the first film. Its villain, Malekith (portrayed by Christopher Eccleston), wants to take over the world using the mysterious element Aether (so much for original motives). Aether, however, does have an important place in the MCU, especially in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War film. The ending also sets the stage for Ragnarok, as we find out a crucial fact about Loki.
The most important change that we hope to see in Ragnarok is in the protagonist himself. Thor has always been a character in the MCU who takes things about himself and the world around him a bit too seriously. He is always obsessing over the need to do good and blurting out some generic lines about righteousness, the importance of humility, loyalty and other such qualities which are so obviously good that the audience is tired of being reminded of their virtues.
All the expectations we have from Ragnarok
Most reviews so far, though, have described Ragnarok as a joyride which does not take itself too seriously and moves to a more humorous tone. This is something which Hemsworth’s Thor desperately needs. He needs to lighten up and stop being a wanna-be Shakespearan character.
“The third film in the series, Thor: Ragnarok, completely changes that, flexing its self-awareness as the movie and its star laugh both at themselves and with their audience,” says this Vox article. In the trailer for Ragnarok, Thor’s “he’s a friend from work” remark on seeing The Hulk in the arena is definitely an encouraging sign. Let’s just hope there’s more where that came from.
But the best character to come out of the Thor movies is not Thor himself. It is Loki. Hiddleston’s portrayal of the Asgardian god of mischief gave us one of the few truly complex supervillains in the MCU. Loki’s convoluted past with his family makes his motives to be evil relatable to such an extent that sometimes, you feel like siding with him. Loki, in general, seems to be smarter and more cunning than most characters around him and is also often portrayed as an anti-hero.
And it seems that Loki will indeed play a crucial role in Ragnarok, especially because the last time we saw him, he was impersonating Odin. We definitely hope that Hiddleston’s lovable villain gets a lot of screen time in the movie.
Speaking of villains, we sincerely hope that Ragnarok will give enough importance to the female characters in the movie. In the previous two Thor movies, Natalie Portman’s immense talent was wasted in films which basically reduced her character to a damsel in distress. Keeping in mind that Ragnarok has Blanchett and Thompson playing crucial roles, let’s hope that their characters are not oversimplified, sidelined or used as hollow tools to highlight characteristics in their male counterparts.
If Ragnarok corrects this mistake, it will set a new standard for female roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is not well-known for complex female characters (we’re still waiting for a Black Widow movie, Marvel).
Our eyes will also obviously be on The Hulk, whom we have not seen in a major role in any MCU film since Avengers: Age of Ultron, way back in May 2015. This is surprising because The Hulk has always been one of the most important superheroes in Marvel comics. Marvel’s version of Jekyll and Hyde deserves a more important place in the MCU. And with Ragnarok, we seem to be “getting a Planet Hulk adaptation squeezed into our Thor sequel”, as pointed out by IGN India.
The other characters to watch out for in the film will be Odin and Heimdall. The disappearance of Odin will probably be a key aspect of Ragnarok‘s plot. And as for Heimdall, let’s just say that there is an exciting theory about him on the internet, which if true, will shape the plot for the Infinity War film.
Lastly, because Ragnarok has so many characters and will play a crucial role in the overall storyline in the MCU, there is a risk that it may seem cluttered, something which happened with Avengers: Age of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and, to a small extent, with Captain America: Civil War.
If, however, Thor: Ragnarok does manage to get rid of the weaknesses of the previous movies and prove to be the new and colourful take on Thor, the god of thunder will hold a place in the MCU as vital as Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man or Chris Evans’ Captain America.