It sounds as though Thor: Rangarok is going to be the shortest Marvel Cinematic Universe movie released to date. Most of the non-Avengers MCU films so far have run within ten minutes (over or under) of two hours, with director Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk being the shortest at 112 minutes. Ragnarok director Taika Waititi, for his part, is known to favor brisk runtimes when it comes to his directorial efforts; with two of his better-known movies – the buddy comedy/adventure Hunt for the Wilderpeople and the supernatural mockumentary What We Do In the Shadows – only running 101 and 86 minutes, respectively.
Based on the synopsis and trailers for Ragnarok that have been released, the movie itself follows a straightforward narrative trajectory. The action gets underway when the Goddess of Death Hela (Cate Blanchett) attacks Asgard and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) attempts to stop her, only to fail and land himself on Sakaar. There, the God of Thunder is reunited with Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and finds a new ally in the warrior Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) – who, along with Thor’s trickster sibling Loki (Tom Hiddleston), teams up with Thor and Hulk in order to defeat Hela.
Waititi spoke with Collider right after he and Marvel premiered the second Ragnarok trailer at San Diego Comic-Con this past weekend, providing an update on the movie’s runtime in the process. According to the filmmaker, Ragnarok will not leave moviegoers wanting more, despite its comparatively short length:
“The cut right now, I reckon it’s about 100 minutes. It’s not gonna be a very, very long film. I think that stories are better when you leave them wanting more, and this film moves at a clip, it’s got stuff happening all the time. I think people are still gonna feel exhausted by the end, they’ve been on this big journey and stuff, so I don’t think we need the film to be three hours.”
Although the main thrust of the Thor: Ragnarok narrative focuses on Thor and friends’ efforts to stop Hela, there will be subplots in the film too. The plot threads in question concern Idris Elba’s Heimdall, who is missing when the movie begins and has Karl Urban’s Skurge filling in his place as Asgard’s Bifrost operator, and Anthony Hopkins’ Odin – who, lest we forget, was “replaced” by a disguised Loki as Asgard’s ruler, at the end of Thor: The Dark World. Waititi told Collider that there were a lot of entertaining scenes that were filmed too, but which won’t be included in the theatrical cut of Ragnarok, in order to keep the movie flowing along at a steady pace:
“There will be a lot of deleted scenes. Great scenes. Funny, funny moments that—you can’t have it all. As I say you gotta kill those puppies, so we had to take some of those things out. Those scenes will exist so people will be able to see them.”
In a time when more and more big-budget studio tentpoles are accused of being bloated and having excessively long runtimes (with Transformers: The Last Knight being a recent example), a leaner runtime for Ragnarok could come as a welcome change of pace from that modern trend. Just this past weekend, in fact, Christopher Nolan debuted his shortest movie in a long time with Dunkirk and the WWII drama/thriller has been widely praised for its taut atmospheres and sense of forward momentum, as a result.
A runtime under two hours isn’t an immediate assurance of quality when it comes to franchise movies, of course. Case in point: it remains to be seen if The Dark Tower‘s own short runtime will serve that fast-approaching Stephen King movie adaptation well, given the sheer amount of source material mythology that it has to draw from (a la Ragnarok). Nevertheless, given the substantial number of Marvel Easter Eggs and special cameos that Ragnarok already looks to include, there’s fair reason to take Waititi at his word that moviegoers “are still gonna feel exhausted” (in a good way) after accompanying Thor on his “biggest”, yet shortest adventure yet.
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