Arts & Entertainment

Thor: Ragnarok cast brings a complex, human edge

By Tyler McMaster
Staff Writer

It has been two years since Chris Hemsworth last portrayed the mighty Thor on the big screen. He took no part in the squabbles of “Civil War,” yet utilized his time off to highlight his comedic talent. This would come in handy when Hemsworth sat down with Marvel bigwig Kevin Feige to discuss the future of Thor.

Hemsworth felt that Thor was being unjustly utilized in the Marvel universe, which is true in the sense that he shone the brightest in his outings with the Avengers. Why should an actor, as versatile as Hemsworth, only garner recognition from an ensemble film? He also felt there was a great deal of humor missing from his solo films, so with the announcement of director Taika Waititi helming “Thor: Ragnarok,” it appeared as though Feige listened.

‘But just who in the heck is Taika Waititi?’ you may be wondering. Waititi is a comedic director from New Zealand, mostly known for cult favorites, “What We Do In the Shadows,” an indie coming of age story, “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” and his work alongside musical comedy duo “Flight of the Conchords.” His style and zany humor is distinct and carries the energy of “Ragnarok.”

Let me be clear, this movie is funny. One of the best aspects of the film is in its master balance of light and dark. Audiences are introduced to a fresh, wisecracking Thor. Characters old and new engage in witty dialogue, lightening the darker mood of Ragnarok— Norse mythology’s ending and rebirth. We are reunited with characters like the mischievous Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), now speaking in almost complete sentences.

Two of my favorite highlights in the cast were the brilliant Cate Blanchett, who plays Thor’s maniacal sister, Hela and Tessa Thompson, kicking an insane amount of butt as Valkyrie. Both bring their own charms and strengths, one as a frighteningly likeable villain and the other, a hard, yet empathetic mercenary.

They bring a complex, human edge to the typical female tropes of a superhero movie. Other notable performances  were Jeff Goldblum’s eccentric performance as the Grand Master; Karl Urban as Skurge, Hela’s appointed executioner with a heart of gold; and Korg, a soft spoken humanoid rock formation voiced by the director himself. A lot of the light and heart of this movie comes straight from his gentle demeanor.

“Ragnarok” is one in a growing number of Marvel movies that possesses a good deal of heart. This is partly due to Waititi’s brand of “happy, sad” ideology, which explores the complexities found in human relationships and with startling clarity.

Thor struggles, fails and triumphs. We witness the consequences of mistakes in real time. We also notice that gods are held to the same standards of mortals. Waititi likes to focus in on the uncontrollable absurdities many of us try and ignore, which offers honest and earnest portrayals of characters who were once familiar to us.

Some have criticized the film for being too funny or too silly, when honestly, I think it’s the best depiction of Thor yet. There is a warmth presence in the humor of “Ragnarok.” It’s organic and nothing ever feels contrived. If there was ever a director who could bring us a well-developed reading of Thor, it is Waititi, and he has succeeded in momentous ways.