On October 9 – 11 I attended a Disney Press Event. My hotel and airfare and meals were taken care of while I was in L.A. Opinions and observations as well as recaps and such are all my own. This post will also contain some affiliate links to Amazon.com.
It is hard to replicate the energy that you feel when you are watching a movie in the same theater with the cast and creators of that movie. Most of these people are seeing the finished product for the very first time along with you. So many hours of hard work have gone into making this that to finally see it on the big screen is cause for excitement. That was the vibe of the room that I was in when I saw Thor: Ragnarok.
People were excited. We had just had the main cast on stage feet from us introduced by Grandmaster himself, Jeff Goldblum. Then the cast came off the stage and crossed in front of us giving high fives and shaking hands. I was only three rows away from some of them the whole night. Everyone was caught up in the excitement, even the cast, including Mark Ruffalo who was livestreaming an Instagram story while on on the red carpet and then again stage. He was so excited that he forgot that his phone was still on when he put his phone in his pocket to watch the movie. If you were one of the 2500 people following along then you might have caught the sounds from the first ten minutes of the movie which included laughter and cheers from the audience. It was that exciting, so exciting that you forget things. I personally forgot my voice recorder at the press conference the next day and I am still kicking myself for that.
Ever since I got the invitation to attend the Thor: Ragnarok red carpet I have been living in this world of Thor. I re-watched Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron. I read the Planet Hulk storyline on my Marvel Unlimited subscription. What I tend to forget is that not everyone is as invested in the story as I am and you may not even be fully aware of the movie or the storyline. So here is the official trailer to get you a little up to speed.
Since the end of Doctor Strange and Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor has been trying to determine what his visions meant from the pool that he went into to communicate with The Norns. That pool is The Water of Sight and it helped Thor understand that Ultron had the Mind Stone and that sets up the part of the story with The Vision and also explains why Thor was quick to believe that the Vision was good and even helped him become created. But the vision (pun intended) that Thor had while in the Waters of Sight was one of Asgard and teased at Ragnarok. So, when all was said and done with Ultron Thor flew off to find out what it all meant.
Also at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Hulk was flying off on his own in a Quinjet. Hulk saw himself as always being a monster and so he left to keep those he loved safe. This is why we see neither hero take a side in Captain America: Civil War. They were both off world and this movie explains what they were up to. While the movie does not establish an actual timeline of events with respect to movies like Doctor Strange and Captain America: Civil War. We have to assume that there is some overlap.
Through a series of events Thor and Hulk end up on the same world called Sakaar. There were elements of the Planet Hulk Storyline that made it though to this movie. There are things that happen in the movie that are inspired by that storyline like the name of the planet. Also the gladiator type games that occur were a big part of that storyline. Even characters that we will meet like Korg and Miek. Sakaar is a giant junk planet and things end up on Sakaar because they are pulled into wormholes. They are constantly being bombarded by space trash and the planet is full of scavengers. Both Thor and Hulk arrive on this planet through wormholes and are captured and made to fight. But we will get to that later.
One of the people that I was so excited to met on this trip was Karl Urban and I got to meet him!!! He shook my hand at the premiere as he walked by my seat and then shook my hand again when we interviewed him at the press junket. I have been a fan of his for so many movies and shows. If you look at his IMDB he has been in so many amazing movies and TV shows. I was interested to see how he would play Skurge who is also called Executioner in the comic books. If you know this character from the comics then you know his story arc and I think Karl did an amazing job playing this villain that was far more complicated than at first glance. He hit the comedic moments out of the park and the action sequences were also incredible.
Skurge has his part to play in this movie and he is one of my two favorite new characters that were introduced in Thor: Ragnarok. there were some fantastic scenes of humor with this character at his expense. Karl played it straight and that got some great laughs during the movie.
I feel that a lot of loose ends get tied up in this movie. We learn what happened with Loki after the end of Thor: The Dark World. At the end of that movie we learn that Loki did not die on the Dark world. Loki somehow replaced Odin. He took on the guise of Odin and fooled everyone in Asgard. The reveal of this deception is particularly funny. We learn what Loki did with Odin and that meant a trip to Earth. This is where we tie in with Doctor Strange. I don’t think it is at all a spoiler that Doctor Strange is in this movie as it was revealed long ago. Also we get that great stinger at the end of Doctor Strange where Dr. Stephen Strange is talking with Thor. We get that full scene fleshed out in the movie and it is a great cameo. There were many great cameos in this movie. I’ll let you discover them for yourself, though.
As we know form the trailer Hela shows up and she destroys Mjölnir with her bare hands!! This is crazy. Hela is played so well by a commanding Cate Blanchett. She embodies this incredible character so well. This is the first time that a major villain in and Marvel movie is a woman. She has a big role to fill and she does it superbly. There is a fantastic featurette below all about Hela.
With any great villain you have to identify with their story. Hela has a particularly compelling story as to why she is so motivated in her task to rule Asgard. She is ruthless, dangerous and lethal. Skurge sees this immediately and out of pure survival instinct pledges himself to her and her cause. Her cause will bring about much death and destruction to Asgard.
Another new character that was introduced in this movie is Valkyrie. She is known as Brunnhilde in Norse Mythology and may even use that name in the comics but in this movie she is known as Valkyrie. She is a hunter for The Grandmaster and finds those people who unwittingly crash through one of the many wormholes on Sakaar. She captures Thor and brings him to the Grandmaster to become one of the newest fighters. One thing I noticed that probably runs throughout all of the space related movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok is that the unit of currency is called a unit. It is like intergalactic bitcoin or something.
The Grandmaster is basically the ruler of Sakaar, which is a where the Planet Hulk comic book story and the movie story greatly diverge. However Grandmaster has been known to throw a Contest of Champions (which, by the way, is a Marvel themed fighting game app) where heroes are compelled to fight each other over the fate of the universe or something equally important. He’s shown up in some of the Marvel cartoons on Disney XD like Ultimate Spider-Man Web Warriors and Guardians of the Galaxy. Jeff Goldblum plays this character to his quirky limit. There are some great moments between Grandmaster and his right hand enforcer, Topaz, played by Rachel House. Some of the funniest deadpan stuff comes from these two in their conversations.
My absolute favorite new character is Korg. I knew that he would be in the movie and so paid particular attention to him in the Planet Hulk comics. I was not expecting him to have the personality that he does in this movie. It is one that you completely do not expect and that is what makes it work so well. The director of the movie Taika Waitit plays Korg and when I post up my interview with him in the coming weeks you will see that I asked him particularly about playing this character. I don’t want to spoil anything but I think that when you first meet Korg in the movie you are going to love him as much as I do.
When two major superheroes have a team up it often starts with a fight. There is some misunderstanding or whatever but they characters fight, make up and then team up. In this case the two character are compelled to fight because they are outfitted with obedience disks. This is another thing from the comics that made it into the movie. I really liked the special effects for these things. The obedience disks send searing pain through the person wearing them. They can immobilize the person or compel them to fight just to make the pain stop. Both Hulk and Thor have them. Hulk, however is the best fighter and so he gets a little nice accommodations, very much like gladiators did. So, Thor and Hulk fight, catch up, have a deeper conversation that I would have thought these characters to have, and then team up.
There are also elements of a fish out of water story. Sakaar is such a confusing world full of bright colors and strange and interesting people. This is a very bright movie. This is a very fun movie and being on Sakaar is where we see some of the craziest colors and sights. Once Thor has convinced Hulk to help him reclaim Asgard they continue to recruit help to form the “Revengers”. So to get that team together they are also going to have to recruit Valkyrie who has her own personal demons to fight. the team is not whole yet because they still need help from…
Loki! The new team also recruits Loki who is also on Sakaar. There is obviously a history between Loki and The Hulk, Loki and Thor and even Loki and Valkyrie. They don’t want to team up with him but need his help. Can he be trusted? Will Loki cause mischief again and will Thor learn from the past times that he trusted his brother? You are going to have to watch to see how that all goes down.
Rewatching all the Marvel movies that had Thor in them definitely added to being able to catch all the jokes and Easter eggs in this movie. There are moments that you say, “oh, yeah, that was from Avengers!” It is definitely worth a re-watch of these movies to catch everything and I think that Taika made some great choices in what to call back to from previous movies. Things that are deep dive sort of things. The true fans of these movies will catch those moments. I honestly have to see this movie again to catch everything that was sad or seen because when something happened the crowd I was with laughed so hard and cheered that I missed a few things. That truly didn’t matter because the excitement at this movie was electric!
There is a touching awkwardness to the relationship between Thor and Hulk and Thor and Bruce Banner. Thor can go toe to toe with the Hulk. He’s about the only Avenger who can do that, unless you count Iron Man in the Veronica Suit. But Thor and Hulk are on par with each other. They are fighters and warriors and they respect each other. Thor’s relationship with Banner is a bit different. In this relationship Thor is certainly at a mental disadvantage. Banner is one of the smartest people in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He is also meek and awkward. He has this tremendous power as The Hulk but is constantly fighting to keep Hulk at bay because he risks losing control of himself completely. We see much character development in this film in Thor, Banner and The Hulk.
Eventually the four heroes leave Sakaar and return to Asgard. There they need to face off with Hela and her army of Berserkers. She is the Goddess of Death and as such she leads and army of the dead. Skurge has become her executioner, which by the way is what he can be called in the comics. The four heroes must save the Asgardian people and their world from Hela causing Ragnarok.
Hela is not going to go down without a major fight. She can summon weapons at will. Thor is without his hammer and he is matched, or rather outmatched by Hela. The two will have an epic fight that will be told and retold in the Asgardian beer halls for ages. That is if anyone lives through the fight. There is an entire world at stake here.
As Dr. Strange says in the video below, “Destiny has dire plans for you” Thor replies by stating that he has dire plans for destiny we see the confidence and bravado of this character. There are moments where Thor is that brash, reckless, overconfident character. Those moments are great when we see Thor get put in his place or knocked down a peg. It makes it all the better when Thor has his moments of triumph. However, those moments are often fleeting.
Does Thor triumph in the end? Does Ragnarok happen or does he prevent it? You’re going to have to watch on November 3rd to find out. Believe me this movie is one of the funniest thrill rides in all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the first Guardians of the Galaxy is my all time favorite Marvel movie, Thor Ragnarok has become the close second. the chemistry between all the characters works so well. It makes so much sense to have Thor and Hulk in the same movie. Will there ever be another stand alone Hulk movie, I don’t think so. Hulks character arch really only woks in the light of the other characters around him. We will see more of his story in the future Avengers movies. Kevin Feige said that Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers 3 and 4 will have a full Hulk story when taken together. I’m looking forward to more of what will happen with The Hulk.
My final thought to you is go see this movie because it is a fun one that will leave you smiling when you leave the theater. That was Taika Waititi’s goals in making this movie. Too many superhero movies ave you leaving the theaters depressed. These should be exciting and uplifitng movies that leave you smiling when you leave the theaters. I think that this was accomplished. And as always, with any true Marvel movie, you have to stay to the very end.
In Marvel Studios’ THOR: RAGNAROK, Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok—the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization—at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela. But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger—the Incredible Hulk! THOR: RAGNAROK is directed by Taika Waititi and returns Chris Hemsworth starring as Thor and Tom Hiddleston reprising his role as Loki. They are joined by Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson and Karl Urban, with Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Hopkins.
Do Yourself a favor and watch these movies before you see Thor: Ragnarok. You don’t need to to enjoy the movie, it just enhances that enjoyment.
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THOR: RAGNAROK opens in theaters everywhere November 3rd!
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