In Thor: Ragnarok, the Asgardian Avenger — also known as the God of Thunder, the Prince of Asgard, and the self-proclaimed "Strongest Avenger" — is really put through the ringer. He's stripped of his beloved Mjölnir (and his luxurious locks), kicked out of his home by the evil Hela, and stuck on a literal trash planet. On the bright side, he's a space gladiator now, which I guess is kinda cool. (Mild spoilers lie ahead.)
With acclaimed indie director Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople) at the helm, Ragnarok is far more colorful and wildly irreverent than its predecessors. Not to mention, for his third solo theatrical outing as the mighty Thor, Chris Hemsworth is better than ever. Anyone who has seen Hemsworth's improvisational skills at work in 2016's Ghostbusters knows that the Aussie is unfairly funny, and Waititi — known for his own absurdist humor — really tapped into his star's comedic side. The result? Marvel Studios' funniest movie by a mile. Or, in this case, a light year. (There's legit a joke about the size of The Hulk's dick.)
If that doesn't immediately sell you on this movie, here are seven reasons you definitely don't want to miss Thor: Ragnarok:
Waititi's oddities are what the Marvel Cinematic Universe so desperately needed.Marvel Studios
A critically acclaimed director, screenwriter, and comedian, Waititi is a man of many talents. And now he can add "revitalizing the superhero franchise" to his growing list of achievements. (Not that he cares. He's so chill about literally everything.) With the studio well into Phase 3 fans know what to expect from a Marvel movie by now, and that's exactly what makes Ragnarok such an accomplishment: You never know what to expect from Waititi — what random joke he might make Anthony Hopkins say, or what 80s reference he might add. According to the director, roughly 80 percent of Thor: Ragnarok was improvised.
His directing style is loose and collaborative, which historically never really vibes with major studio executives with billion-dollar franchises at stake. But Marvel's risk on Waititi really paid off. This is precisely the kind of film Marvel needed to break the studio out of its same old habits and to demonstrate something so radically different than what's come before. The overall story might hit the familiar Marvel-approved beats, but the jokes never stop coming — and neither do the surprise celeb cameos.
Chris Hemsworth is really effing funny.Marvel Studios
The first Thor film was a fish-out-of-water tale about an immortal god who gets stranded on Midgard (a.k.a. Earth) with the humans. Therefore, a lot of its comedy was derived from Thor experiencing Earth for the first time. But in Ragnarok, Thor thoroughly embraces his punchline status, as Hemsworth leans into the character's inherent dullness and instead inflicts him with a comical self-awareness that was previously hard to find in the deity.
Who is Thor when he doesn't have his magic hammer or his hair to hide behind? Turns out, he's still pretty arrogant. But Ragnarok turns Thor's inflated confidence into an ongoing gag. Being a hero isn't as simple as having superpowers or a cool cape. It's about being the kind of person worthy of admiration — and in Thor's case, being a god worth worshipping for the people of Asgard. He gets knocked down, pushed around, and totally walked over in this movie — but, like the puppy he is, he keeps coming back for more. He simply can't help himself.
Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston have incredible chemistry.
Ragnarok further explores the often complicated relationship between Thor and his brother Loki (Hiddleston), who's more smarmy and sarcastic than ever. In doing so, Hemsworth and Hiddleston tread on genuine emotion without ever getting too maudlin about it. Following the end of Thor: The Dark World, Ragnarok picks up with Loki ruling Asgard under the guise of Odin. Thor is less than amused by his brother's switcheroo, which sets the tone for what's to come.
But unlike The Dark World, Thor and Loki aren't repeating the past. In fact, Thor finally becomes wise to his brother's tricks. This allows for some much-needed depth and exploration. It's these smaller, quieter moments — usually anchored by gags, like the one above — where Hemsworth and Hiddleston really shine.
The film also features an incredible callback to one of Loki's most memorable scenes from the first Avengers, which leads to him experiencing a bout of Hulk-induced PTSD on Sakaar.
The Hulk taps into his humanity.Marvel Studios
It's not all about smashing things anymore. Ragnarok finds the Big Green Guy imprisoned in more ways than one. He's physically imprisoned on the trash planet Sakaar, forced to compete in The Grandmaster's (Jeff Goldblum) gladiatorial games. But he's also imprisoned by his own emotions, trapped by his own raging self-hatred. The Hulk that Thor finds on Sakaar is far angrier — and pettier — than the Hulk we last saw in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
But by giving him a voice, Ragnarok taps into the character's humanity. The film actually makes us care about The Hulk (and not just Bruce Banner). The Hulk has emotions too; he gets sad, and he gets angry, and he even gets insecure. And as one key scene demonstrates, he may have feelings for Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, too.
No one has more fun than Cate Blanchett.Marvel Studios
Though criminally underused, Cate Blanchett's Goddess of Death Hela is just so deliciously evil. It's like Blanchett has channeled the saucy spirit of screen siren Bette Davis, delivering each line to campy perfection. She gets to saunter around, look fierce, and say things like "Asgard is dead." How could she not be having the time of her life?
Waititi steals the movie with his own delightful character.Marvel Studios
Korg! Everybody loves Korg! Played by Waititi, via motion-capture and CGI, the lovable rock creature with an inexplicably thick Kiwi accent is a total scene-stealer. The Kronan gladiator is ridiculously blunt but never mean, and he becomes one of Thor's fiercest confidantes on the planet Sakaar. He's so integral to Ragnarok's quirky DNA that he might even have a future in the MCU. With the life-and-death stakes of Avengers: Infinity War looming, Marvel is going to need a bit of pure (albeit a bit rough) sunshine.
Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie deserves her own movie.Marvel Studios
Like, now. Thompson is so good as world-weary warrior-turned-scrapper Valkyrie that it's hard to imagine the Marvel Cinematic Universe without her. Forget the Revengers — she needs to join the Avengers immediately. As the hard-drinking, wise-cracking scrap hauler, Thompson steps into a role previously inhabited by male heroes. She gets to be messy, tough, and arrogantly charming, but most importantly, she's effortlessly cool. Thompson herself has aptly described Valkyrie as the "Han Solo of the movie."
That's not to say Valkyrie is all style and little substance. In fact, her emotional arc is easily one of the most compelling elements of the film, and it plays nicely off Thor's own hero's journey. And just wait until you see what she can do with her blade.