2. Thor (2011)
In May 2011, Thor introduced Chris Hemsworth's swaggering, egotistical God of Thunder, who was stripped of his powers and forced to learn humility by Odin before he could claim the throne as King of Asgard. As such, Thor was banished to Midgard (Earth), where the powerless immortal meets his love interest Jane Foster and grows as a person before he is once more worthy to wield his enchanted hammer Mjolnir and reclaim his godly powers. Meanwhile, Loki discovers that he's not Asgardian as he always believed but that he is the son of the king of the Frost Giants; the God of Mischief then seeks revenge on Odin by trying to take over Asgard.
Director Kenneth Branagh succeeds in bringing sweeping Shakespearean-style drama and an epic scale to the film. The design of Odin's golden castle and the general aesthetics of Asgard held for all three Thor films (until it was all destroyed in Thor: Ragnarok). Branagh also brings a light touch to the fish-out-of-water romantic comedy between Thor and Jane, though some fans consider Portman's portrayal of Jane Foster too flighty considering her job as an astrophysicist. The film shifts between the mythological grandeur of Asgard and the rather mundane New Mexico town Thor is banished to, which is later attacked by the Destroyer in the climactic fight scene. For MCU cameos, Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) of S.H.I.E.L.D. appears as a thorn in Jane's side while cameo appearances by Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) sets up The Avengers.
In hindsight, Thor is certainly a product of the Phase 1 MCU with some baffling early choices like dyeing Hemsworth's eyebrows blond. Thor and his universe, which include Sif (Jaimie Alexader) and the Warriors Three, already feel bigger and ready to burst out of the confines of the film's relatively limited scale. Thor himself was a work in progress; a moment in a diner when Thor smashed a coffee cup was an early glimpse of what a humorous and endearing character Hemsworth would eventually turn the God of Thunder into. However, Thor concludes with a bittersweet ending where Jane and Thor are separated, which is enhanced by Patrick Doyle's underrated musical score. Overall, Thor triumphantly brought the splendor and magic of the Asgardians into the MCU.
1. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
From the colorfully electric, Jack Kirby-inspired visuals teasing Thor vs. the Hulk, the hilarious one-liners, to the rocking strains of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song", it was clear from the first trailer that Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok was a going to be a completely different kind of Thor film. Outside of appearing in Doctor Strange's mid-credits scene (which is shown in its entirety in Ragnarok with a guest appearance by Benedict Cumberbatch), the God of Thunder hadn't been seen in the MCU since 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron and he sat out the Avengers' Civil War. Off-screen, Thor's relationship with Jane Foster is ended as well.
Instead, Thor is faced with his greatest challenge: trying to prevent his sister Hela, the Goddess of Death (Cate Blanchett) from conquering Asgard and saving his world from the mythical Ragnarok at the hands of Surtur (Clancy Brown). This time, Thor gets a lot of help from a superteam he dubs "The Revengers", which includes Loki, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Merging Thor's Ragnarok epic with Marvel Comics' popular Planet Hulk story, Waititi brings his offbeat wit and visual flair to the task of demolishing Thor's world completely; not only is Asgard destroyed, but Thor loses an eye, his hair, and his beloved magic hammer Mjolnir. Stripped of his time-tested accouterments, Hemsworth finds new depth and complexity to Thor and, in turns, the God of Thunder levels up in sheer power - though it still isn't enough to beat Hela and prevent Ragnarok. For MCU ties, Thor: Ragnarok introduced the zany Gamesmaster (Jeff Goldblum) and concludes with the ominous appearance of Thanos' space ship, which immediately leads into Avengers: Infinity War.
Released in November 2017, the wildly entertaining Thor: Ragnarok is the highest-earning Thor film with $854-million, far outgrossing DC's Justice League, which was released later that month. Although Waititi's relentless, absurdist humor, the film's irreverent tone, and composer Mark Mothersbaugh's 1980s-inspired synth-pop score didn't win over every MCU fan, Thor: Ragnarok was an undeniable jolt of energy to Thor, leaving behind nearly everything the prior films established and blazing new possibilities as the best film in the trilogy. Where Thor goes next remains to be seen but many fans consider Thor: Ragnarok the start of a new Thor trilogy that continued with Infinity War and concludes in Avengers: Endgame.
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019