The Iron Man, Captain America and Thor trilogies each amount to a 2-1 ratio of two 'great' ones and one generally 'bad' one. In ranking Thor's trilogy against Stark's and Rogers', the question lies in testing Thor's highs and lows against the others. We could say with Stark, Iron Man is great, Iron Man 2 is the bad one, and Iron Man 3 is good-to-great. Rogers comes up as an even stronger Avenger: if The First Avenger is the 'bad' one (relatively, and it's still pretty good), The Winter Soldier is great and Civil War is also great. (Granted, Cap had by far the most help from the rest of the Avengers.) As for Thor, his first movie is good, but not great. The Dark World has to rank as the 'bad' one. Thankfully, with Thor: Ragnarok, the God of Thunder achieved his apex. Taika Waititi's film is a hilarious intergalactic romp of super-charged electric revelry. But to achieve what Ragnarok achieved, Waititi admittedly had to "break" Thor, thereby exposing the lack of cohesiveness within the Thor trilogy.
If Thor: Ragnarok felt more like a reboot and the start of a new franchise rather than a capper to the existing trilogy, this was intentional. Waititi breathed new life into Thor. He severed the God of Thunder from nearly every aspect of what was expected of a Thor movie - from giving Thor a haircut and destroying his precious hammer Mjolnir; to jettisoning Thor's human supporting cast including Jane Foster; to killing Odin and Thor's friends the Warriors Three, and finally eradicating Asgard itself by the end. And yet, even with all of that loss there were no tears shed, besides tears from laughter.
In Ragnarok, we thrilled to our new, funnier, more self-aware Thor and his ragtag team of misfits, the Revengers: the brash and boozing Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), a re-galvanized Loki, and a somewhat smarter, no less smash-y Hulk. Thor does become King of Asgard, as he was supposed to at the start of his first movie, but by its conclusion, Ragnarok successfully re-imagines what a Thor movie is. There is the expected MCU upkeep as well, like an aside with Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and an ominous set up for Infinity War in the mid-credits scene. But overall, this is a decidedly new and improved Thor that rid itself of nearly every tie to the trilogy it concluded and showed no desire to look back - only forward to the future.
Ragnarok is the finest and most entertaining Thor of the trilogy, but it can hardly be regarded as a continuation of its predecessors. Waititi's film has too many differences from the first two and flaunts a purposeful absence of stylistic and narrative coherence. Ragnarok's director even considers it the first film of a new trilogy. This is why Thor ultimately comes in as the weakest of the Marvel trilogies - the third film doesn't really want anything to do with the first two.
The good news for Thor is that Ragnarok is a near-total reinvention and the start of something new and better that moves beyond what had been established for Thor in the MCU. Two more Thor films as great as Ragnarok and Thor could some day lord over Stark and Rogers by boasting the mightiest trilogy after all.
- Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019