Okay, what the Hell was that? I mean this in all seriousness.
WARNING: Spoilers Ahead!
When you say that that Marvel Studios have built a rather successful movie business from movies based on the comic book heroes of the ’60s and ’70s (for the most part), it sounds ridiculous. The you watch one. You realize that this success has merit. And I believe I know what that merit is: the comic book superheroes are given life because they are treated like living, breathing, real people. The films are grounded in a realism that will trick you if you aren’t paying attention too closely.
I’m a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). I have enjoyed every single one of the movies so far, even with the left-of-center entries like “Ant Man“, “Guardians of the Galaxy“, and “Doctor Strange“. What is shocking about this latest entry: everyone thinks it is so funny. “Thor: Ragnarok” is clearly meant to be light-hearted popcorn fare. This movie is by far the worst of the MCU, and I’m going to tell you why.
Ragnarok is the Norse myth of their version of the Judeo-Christian “End of Days” or the Apocalypse. Now, have you ever seen or heard someone make light of that material (and don’t bring up “This is the End” with James Franco)? So concept-wise, this film is really about the destruction of Thor’s “world”, the mythical realm of Asgard. So…we are going to destroy Asgard, and the that is the very point of Ragnarok. I ask again, what about this material strikes you as funny?
It’s not that Marvel can’t throw some humor into their movies (see here: Joss Whedon’s treatment of the Thor-Hulk relationship in the 1st Avengers movie). They are great at doing that. This film though, deliberately seeks to make every line a joke or a punchline. And THAT is what I don’t get. We kill off Odin, and we get a joke. We get Banner back from a 2-year hiatus as the Hulk, and we get a joke. Thor loses an eye, and we get a joke. We reduce Loki and his machinations into a joke. We introduce Valkyrie and her issues, and we get a joke. The character that most would have have the floor for jokes is the not-so-menacing Grand Master (played wonderfully by Jeff Goldblum) and yet…he barely jokes?
There is no end to the stupidity of the treatment of this material. Hela, goddess of Death, comes to the screen, and although menacing as she is, she doesn’t come off all that serious. Now, every other villain introduced int he MCU has been serious. With the grounded-in-realism approach to superheroes, the MCU made us believe in them in a way we never did before. But here you have the Goddess of Death presented, and you make her almost laughable in her wanton destruction of everything. (In the comics, Hela is cold, aloof, and ultimately evil as all get-out. She is frightening like a force of nature, and utterly unbeatable.)
This is the problem with “Thor: Ragnarok”. When everything that should be treated serious is swept aside with a joke, nothing is seen as serious – and you are suddenly left with watching a comic superhero action flick with no depth, no realism, no grounded foundation, no character development, no further plot lines being laid out, and nothing to keep your interest. In the end, I was left preferring that Thor and the rest just get killed off. It was a sad end to my enjoyment of the MCU, and now I will proceed very cautiously towards anything else they do, and I will most definitely pass on ANYTHING this director does. (His name is Taika Waititi, FYI.)
Ragnarok was an end alright; the end to superhero movies being treated like quality movies. Marvel, you let this fan down and I don’t appreciate the joke.
… and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.