It’s time you all knew that Thor has semi-secretly been my favorite Avenger since I first discovered superhero movies. I think I’ve watched the first Thor movie four times, and it’ll happen again. One year I even dressed up as Thor for Halloween. I pinned a red towel around my shoulders for my cape, made a winged helmet out of a hardhat, foam, and silver spray paint, and waited all night for a trick-or-treater dressed as Loki to come to my friend’s door so that I could swing him aloft and sing out: “HE AIN’T HEAVY, HE’S MY BROOOTTHEEER.” No little Loki’s came by that night, to my continued dismay. But at least I looked great.
What I love about the Thor movies is that they’re ridiculous and epic and fill me with joy. They are unabashed about their bouncing comic book absurdity in a way that actually feels more like an X-Men movie than the rest of the Avengers franchise, and I feel extremely positively about that. The first Thor flick, you may recall, was a grand, cape-swirling Shakespearean family drama in a gigantic golden space castle, with a comedy-of-errors astronomy interlude off in the hinterlands. Which tracks, given that it was directed by Gilderoy Lockhart himself, bonkers English thespian Sir Kenneth Branagh.
Incredibly, they managed to top themselves with their director choice this time. And how. Ragnarok, the third in the Thoeuvre, was blessedly given to maverick Māori improvisational auteur Taika Waititi, master of the misfit picture and maybe this blog’s favorite filmmaker. Applying his same incomprehensible genius that gave us a deeply lovable and hilarious buddy comedy about the broken foster care system, he took Marvel’s millions and turned out a rainbow-hued team-up smash-‘em-up about storming into your hometown on a fireworks-spewing party boat and tearing down everything built on imperialism and conquest. He’s perfect, it was perfect, I’ll go on.
Here’s a perfect thing for you: in this film, one of the central characters is a Fallen Valkyrie played by Tessa Thompson, who is hilarious and talented and a woman of color. And she gets to swagger onscreen drunk and badass, like a warrior, and get a plot about identity struggles and honor and reclamation, also like a warrior, and also like a commentary on displaced Indigenous peoples, BECAUSE TAIKA. And also because Taika: she spends the majority of her scenes riffing with a gloriously unchecked Jeff Goldblum, face done up in half the Wet ’n Wild line, and a thrilled Chris Hemsworth, who, thank god, is finally leading a movie that wants him to be the fantastically doofy comedic actor he was born to be.
– Mark Mothersbaugh’s fabulous synthy rock score, especially during all the segments on the technicolor garbage pile of the universe
– Academy Award Winner and real-life goddess Cate Blanchett, who can do whatever the hell she wants, evidently wanting to stalk around in an antler headpiece and make evil villainess speeches at bald Karl Urban
– an actual staged Shakespearean dumb show of the concluding events of Thor 2
– the magnificent Rachel House stealing every and I mean every scene she’s in
– and Idris Elba’s Heimdall being given a plot that casts him as some wonderful mashup of Aragorn and King Arthur
In conclusion, Ragnarok was everything I wanted and more from Taika Waititi’s Thor movie, and the most gleeful fun I’ve had at the cinema with a big bucket of popcorn and an action movie since Mad Mad: Fury Road.