Things look real bad for Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in the first look at Marvel’s third solo outing with the god of thunder: Thor: Ragnarok.
Directed by Taika Waititi (Boy, What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople), the new film has Thor imprisoned on the other side of the universe, and to escape and save his home world he must fight his former ally and fellow Avenger – the Incredible Hulk.
No, Cate Blanchett hasn’t been listening to The Cure a lot, she’s playing Hela, the Norse goddess of death, ruler of Hel and Nifleheim. The lore states Hela was appointed by Odin (Anthony Hopkins) to rule over the dead bad guys, but she wanted more power and tried to overthrow the honourable Norse afterlife, Vallhalla. By the looks of the trailer, Hela’s beef extends to Asgard and things get apocalyptic.
What’s a “Ragnarok”?
That’s the apocalyptic part. In Norse mythology, Ragnarok is a series of events that results in the death of the gods. "Asgard is dead," proclaims Hela in the trailer, so it seems like she’s figured out the pin code to the Ragnarok and she isn’t afraid to use it.
New faces and neon places
Looks like the destruction of Asgard leaves Thor abandoned across the universe in places that look similar to the locations of Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s no coincidence, Asgard and the realms he visits in the previous films all exist in the depths of space, and it’s such a relief to see Marvel get away from Earth-bound stories. Thor is now entering the same territory as the Guardians, which is why there are a whole bunch of new characters with a Guardians vibe. For example, Jeff Goldblum is playing The Grandmaster, an Elder of the Universe, who was there when the universe is new – he’s really old. The last Elder we saw was Benicio del Toro’s The Collector in Guardians of the Galaxy. Goldblum’s character is a galactic fight promoter who captures Thor and makes him a gladiator.
Also, meet Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), the leader of an elite strike force of Pegasus riding warrior women (!!) who ferry fallen soldiers to Valhalla. Valkyrie seems to be working as a bounty hunter on behalf of The Grandmaster. She seems to be no longer working for Odin so there’s a chance this character will get a backstory tied to the villainous Hela.
Blink and you’ll miss him, but there’s another villain in the trailer, Skurge (Karl Urban), a mercenary who works for Hela but has a habit of flipping sides.
Idris Elba is back as Hemidall looking a little worse for wear.
And Tom Hiddleston looks to be getting in on the action as Loki.
Thor gets a haircut
It’s technically a Thor-cut. The blonde mane is gone because Thor is now a prisoner of The Grandmaster and they have a strict haircut policy for their version of the Thunderdome.
The big moment of the trailer: the reveal of the incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). The Hulk is also fighting in The Grandmaster’s games and it’s an idea lifted directly from a comic book storyline called Planet Hulk. In the comics, Hulk gets blasted into space because he’s a liability on Earth, and he crashes on an alien planet where he becomes a gladiator. Eventually, Hulk fights his way to freedom, takes down the planet’s ruler and becomes king. Elements of the Planet Hulk comic seem to have been blended into Thor: Ragnarok and it looks awesome.
The Waititi effect
Look, Marvel has established themselves as pros at making gigantic superhero blockbusters, but they’ve developed a safe, same-same aesthetic that reeks of complacency. By the looks of the Thor: Ragnarok trailer, the hiring of Waititi is hoping to change that sentiment. Thor: Ragnarok looks like a wild space adventure in the key of Flash Gordon and Masters of the Universe. In an interview with The Guardian, Waititi said: “I’ve always felt that I wanted to make a Marvel film… I just want to make sure I’m not making an episode.” During a Reddit AMA, Waititi had fans in a flurry when he said: “I made an effort to ignore the fact that there are other Thor films.” Marvel films have an episodic quality with a bulk of their stories designed to set up multiple films in the future. Often, this works against telling the story of each film; it’s like a distraction. From this trailer, it seems like Waititi has stood up to his bosses at Marvel and made the film on his terms. Either that or he’s a master at negotiations and compromise.
Where is Natalie Portman?
Portman’s Jane Foster won’t be appearing in Thor: Ragnarok because the actress is done with the role. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Portman said: “As far as I know, I’m done, I mean, I don’t know if maybe one day they’ll ask for an Avengers 7, or whatever.” It has been rumoured that Portman was not happy with Marvel when they fired filmmaker, Patty Jenkins, from directing Thor: The Dark World, and missed the opportunity to have the first Marvel film helmed by a woman. Jenkins went on to direct Wonder Woman for Marvel’s rivals, Warner Brothers and DC Comics, which will get a release in Australia in June. Also, Marvel gave Portman’s character zero to do but be a damsel in distress, so it’s understandable why Portman wanted to walk. Portman is said to have fulfilled her contract obligations to Marvel on Dark World and she has never looked back.
Thor: Ragnarok thunders into Australian cinemas on October 26 2017.
Follow the author here: Twitter @MrCamW