The early reviews for Thor: Ragnarok have started to pour in, and they point to yet another crowd-pleaser from Marvel Studios. A positive critical reaction to Thor: Ragnarok is hardly surprising, as the majority of the films to be released as part of the MCU have earned positive reviews. In this case though, it looks like Thor 3 might actually best its Thor-centered predecessors in quality, a rare occurrence for a threequel.
Thor: Ragnarok represents a noticeable change in style and tone from the past Thor solo films, thanks in large part to the hiring of director Taika Waititi, who has a long resume in the world of comedy. This irreverent approach stands in stark contrast to the fairly serious tones of the prior Thor movies, taking the overall Thor franchise to wacky places it hasn't gone before. Along with the wacky, though, comes a renewed sense of fun and excitement, which is important to have as the MCU approaches its landmark tenth year.
Presented below are spoiler-free excerpts from a handful of Thor: Ragnarok's early reviews. While some reviews aren't as positive as others, the initial consensus seems to be that this Thor/Hulk team-up is a blast, and begs to be viewed with a crowd of like-minded Marvel fans. Thor: Ragnarok may not be the most dramatic entry in the MCU canon, but it might just be one of the most fun.
The Wrap - Alonso Duralde
"It’s not hard to imagine a young audience completely losing their minds over the thrills and action of “Thor: Ragnarok,” and then loving it all over again when they realize how funny it is. [...] This latest outing for the thunder god plays more to the giddy “Guardians of the Galaxy” crowd than to those who prefer their superheroes to be grim and gritty. But Waititi and screenwriters Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher L. Yost know how to balance stakes and silliness, which is exactly what this movie needs. Audiences committed to the ongoing expansion of the Marvel screen universe will come away feeling respected for their devotion, while those who aren’t interested in the set-up for the next ten movies in the franchise can have fun and get on with their lives."
Variety - Peter Debruge
"Whereas the two previous Thor movies were somber battle epics directed by Kenneth Branagh and Alan Taylor, respectively, the latest was clearly conceived as a wacky adventure comedy. Irreverent almost to the point of camp, that approach fits comfortably within the wheelhouse of Kiwi director Taika Waititi, for whom this undertaking was roughly 100 times the scale of his next most expensive production."
IGN - Jim Vejvoda
"Thor: Ragnarok is as glib and cheeky as the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, and embraces a deliberately ‘80s space opera aesthetic and synth score. This makes for a fun and often hilarious romp, and a film that looks as vibrant and out there as an old Jack Kirby Marvel comic. But it also encapsulates the MCU’s increasing desire to go for the gag, to mock its own innate absurdity, even at the expense of the characters and settings Marvel Studios has spent years now establishing."
EW - Chris Nashawaty
"Director Taika Waititi, a New Zealander with an impressive idiosyncratic brand of absurd (Flight of the Conchords, What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople), brings his caffeinated pinball energy to the often-stoic Asgardian he-man, goosing the predictable, sometimes-plodding plot beats and tired tropes of the men-in-tights genre with giddy hits of WTF laughing gas. It’s amazing that Waititi — a newbie in the jungle of corporate filmmaking — was able to inject so much of his unique voice into such a committee-approved juggernaut."
Heroic Hollywood - Nick Kazden
"Thor: Ragnarok is not a perfect film, but its strengths far outweigh the negatives. The characters, pace and action culminate in a movie that is easily Marvel’s best. Not only does the movie feel like a satisfying, self-contained story, it does a great job setting up new predicaments for the maturing God of Thunder. Hopefully, Marvel Studios lets Taika Waititi stick around and do whatever he wants because he turned in a comedic masterpiece that will go down as one of the most fun sci-fi/fantasy movies of the last ten years."
THR - Sheri Linden
"With Taika Waititi at the helm, the clash-of-worlds CGI extravaganza blasts free of the previous installment's leaden Dark World. Giant fire monsters in stygian underworlds notwithstanding, even the story's central bad guys are silly fun, hammed to the hilt by Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum."
Based on the above reviews, those who find the MCU films to be too comedic for their tastes probably won't find a lot to love in Thor: Ragnarok. This latest adventure for the God of Thunder looks to be the most outwardly hilarious in Marvel Studios' history, and seems to not take itself seriously in the slightest. Debates can be had over whether or not that is a good thing for the Thor character, but in the abstract, it would appear that Ragnarok is easily the most fun film he's headlined to date.
Thor: Ragnarok will of course have some competition for November's most entertaining superhero film, as the DC Comics tentpole Justice League will also release next month. After the smash success of the generally upbeat and non-cynical Wonder Woman, it'll be interesting to see just how far in the direction of pure fun Justice League goes, and if if it can possibly come close to matching Ragnarok in that department.
Sources: Various [see the links above]