From the minute Thor: Ragnarok begins, the audience realizes that this is unlike any Thor movie we've seen before: more so than any other, this is a straight-up comedy. Now, Marvel has always used humor effectively in its movies, with some really bridging the gap between genres; Guardians of the Galaxy, for example, is a light-hearted movie with great comedic pace, as is its sequel. And even those that focus on telling a much more serious story, such as Doctor Strange or the Iron Man trilogy, have still been full of jokes.
Thor: Ragnarok differs from all of the previous MCU offerings, though, and its hard to know where to place it. The humor comes thick and fast; A-list cameos, witty one-liners, subtle dark humor, visual gags, and hilarious characters (hello, Korg) all combine to make this offering, from director Taika Waitit, one of - or very possibly the - funniest Marvel movies ever. Of course, we knew humor was a strong part of the movie from the trailers; seeing Thor greeting Hulk in a battle arena with the line "I know him, he's a friend from work!" gave a pretty good idea that Ragnarok wouldn't take itself too seriously. Although we didn't realize until the movie's release just how unrelentingly funny it would be. The question is; is it too much?
Having Thor, Loki and Bruce Banner all diving into the humor is in many ways a highlight of Ragnarok, but sometimes the gravity story being told is lost on the audience as we wait for the next gag to come along. Case in point: Valkyrie. We hear her backstory, which is tragic, heartbreaking and worthy of being told in a serious manner. Now, to Waititi's credit, he does attempt that with a moving flashback scene, but then shortly after we have Thor and Loki arguing about "get help". A funny moment, yes, but also one that quickly detracts from the impact of Valkyrie's story.
This sense of distraction runs through the film. Take Korg, who is one of the best characters ever to enter the MCU. The rock monster with a heart (voiced by Waititi himself) has the audience laughing loudly pretty much every time he's on screen. That's great if you like comedies, but as Asgard falls and its people flee it's hard to feel the emotive impact because Korg is carrying around a dead Doug (his pet) out of guilt. Our focus immediately goes to what Korg is saying and, as a result, we pretty much forget about the fall of Asgard.
Is it too much? That really comes down to personal opinion. Thor, and Thor: The Dark World are divisive MCU offerings - some love them, while others find them a pain. So when Waititi has successfully reignited and reinvigorated the franchise - Thor 3 has great reviews and ever better box office success - the comedy complaints feel to be missing the point somewhat.
Undoubtedly, though, audiences don't connect with the plot of Ragnarok with the same intensity as, say, Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Civil War. And that is somewhat of a shame, since the story being told - that of the fall of Asgard - is important to the overall arc of the MCU, not to mention the future of the Thor franchise. Moving into Avengers: Infinity War, it'll be interesting to see whether Marvel employs more humor than Civil War, or if they rein it in because of the importance of the plot and the size of cast.
Ultimately, whether you think Ragnarok is too much of a comedy or not, it seems as though Waititi is fast becoming a Marvel fan favorite, and his humor is likely to be around for a long time to come.
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