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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Thor: Ragnarok

“Dance your cares away
Worry’s for another day
Let the music play
Down in Ragnarok” ------Fraggle Rock theme, with one minor change.

Despite being a Marvel fan for decades, given my repeated disappointments with Marvel movies, you’d think I’d just write them off. But like a train wreck, I find it hard to look away. I will confess that I no longer rush to theaters to see the latest venture like I used to when the movies first started coming out. Instead I wait for them to hit Netflix or some other free venue. Such was the case with Thor: Ragnarok.

A lot (though not all) of Thor storylines revolve at least loosely around actual Norse mythology. Such is the case….though very loosely….with “Ragnarok”. (see more on Ragnarok)

The one thing about this mythological event that is pretty consistent whether read in the poetry of the time or seen in Wagner’s ‘Gotterdammerung’ is that regardless of who manages to live through it, it’s no picnic. So what better way to tell the tale in movie form than as a comedy, right?

In “Ragnarok” everyone is a joker (to some degree) with Thor being played as a near-buffoon. I think the one character I could have probably forgiven and even relished being depicted as they were was Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster. But for his quirky, narcissist interpretation of a near-omnipotent “Elder of the Universe” to work, it needs to be played off a less comedic cast. As it stands, he’s just one more character mugging for a chuckle.

Now there’s nothing wrong with comedy, and certain Marvel characters should have strong comedic elements. Deadpool is a prime example. But just because Deadpool was successful, or because audiences like Tony Stark’s , a la Robert Downey Jr.’s killer one-liners, doesn’t mean that EVERY character has to be a clone. (Dr. Strange’s cameo in Ragnarok broke my heart.)

As for casting? Well as charming as Tessa Thompson may be as “Valkyrie” she is as believable as one of the famed flying warriors made famous by Richard Wagner’s thrilling opera as I would be wearing a horned helmet and tin cup brassiere. (though Thompson is far more attractive

Tessa Thompson in comparison with the comic book version. Hmmm. Now which seems more believable as a Norse warrior who fights for Odin and scoops up fallen heroes to fill the drinking halls of Valhalla? "Hojotoho!"

My other big disappointment with Ragnarok does deal with something that only a comic book fan would know of, and that is the reworking of the “Planet Hulk” story arc as some weak supporting adjunct to the Thor narrative. And my disappointment is not based in some misguided or nerdy comic book purism, but rather the disgust at seeing the degradation of one of the best Hulk story arcs ever written. (To see a pretty accurate version you can try to find Lionsgate’s 2010 animated movie of the same name.) That story could well have been done as the next “Hulk” feature film and been awesome, but now it has been relegated to a watered-down footnote.

Does this look like the face of someone who's just waiting for the right straight line to crack a joke?

Interestingly, while my opinions of Marvel movies usually are not shared by those around me, this time even Rosa expressed dismay at how overly comedic  the movie was. (If “Black Panther” resembles “The Lion King”, then “Ragnarok” feels like a reboot of the campy 1960’s “Batman” TV series with Thor as the main character.)

I have not seen “Infinity Wars” yet, but after this, I’m wondering if it is going to be like watching “Springtime for Hitler”?


  1. “The Fuhrer, what a painter! Could paint a whole house in one day, two costs”
    That had to be one if the funniest movies of all time. Mel Brooks best in my opinion.
    I believe it was also Gene Wilder’s first role.

    I’m disappointed in most of the marvel films so far. Also being a big fan of the early comics and collecting them as a kid I wish they’d stick to original plots and origins.
    I’m still kicking myself for selling off all my comics years ago. So many first issues.

    1. I agree on "The Producers". Definitely Brooks' best, followed by "Young Frankenstein". I hope you didn't waste your time watching the Broadway bastardization.....either on Broadway or in the film version. UGH! It loses the entire point and charm of the original by introducing a totally unnecessary romantic subplot. For years as a manager, I would use the line, "they all come in here. How do they find me?" following some of my more inane office visits from workers with bizarre complaints.

      I still have my comics, but not from any further back than my college years......when I knew better. ;-) I do have nearly the entire first volume of Daredevil, missing only about 15 issues here and there. I do have 1 through 10 though! I don't collect anymore though. (Too expensive a hobby nowadays!)

  2. I'm enjoying your reviews, but please note that I probably won't comment simply because I haven't seen any of them, and have had little interest in doing so.

    In other words: Thank you for your reviews. Maybe you'll inspire me to watch them.

    1. No problem, Merry.

      As for movies? I wait for them to hit Netflix. And to be honest, I haven't seen much to really impress me lately. The last few flicks I've enjoyed have been out for quite a while: "The Big Short" & "Spotlight".

  3. Tried to respond twice, doesn’t seem to want to post.
    I’ll try once again.

    I don’t watch remakes of any movies. I feel you can’t remake what I call “classics”. They always ruin them by trying to modernize or overdo the political correctness. Leave the originals alone for all to see.
    Funny, I used the line. “Max, he’s wearing a dress “ all the time when I worked in the garment center.

    I had some comic collection. Bought many right off the newsstands when I was s kid. Used to run to the candy stores on the corner every first Thursday of the month when they were released. Then they were only a dime.
    Had all the first issues of Marvel. Even had a few from the “golden age”
    Sold off my entire collection just before entering the service for around $300.00 a fraction of what they’d be worth now.
    A good friend of mine growing up actually graduated from Art and Design HS and went on to draw for Marvel for a short time. An excellent artist and illustrator he was.
    Do you recall the first animated marvel series back in the late 60’s ?
    Used to be on channel 9 every night. I always thought it funny that Sub Mariner was on Friday, fish day.
    Daredevil was my favorite as well.
    Life was so much simpler back then

    1. There are SO many great lines and moments! I had a work friend years and years ago who, whenever she'd accidentally interrupt something, would say, "Sorry I caught you with the old lady."

      I sent samples to Marvel way back when......but they weren't interested. :-(

      As for the comic? The reason they ARE as valuable as they are, is precisely because most people didn't keep them. Imagine if you also kept and preserved some of your toys from back then!

      I definitely remember that show and joke about it still. The animation.....if you could call it that.....was so bad! But the themes were great! "When Captain America throws his mighty shield........".

  4. Crimson Kid (C.K.)June 13, 2018 at 11:11 PM

    Isn't Thor supposed to be killed during Ragnarok, with him and his arch-enemy, the Midgard serpent, taking out each other pretty much simultaneously?

    While I don't mind a fairly light-hearted comic-book-based film, Thor is an unusual choice for the protagonist of one--Spider-Man works much better, I'd venture.

    Plus in Norse mythology, Ragnarok is the unstoppable, inevitable destruction of all creation during fierce, fiery battle, that's hardly an ideal subject for comedy.

    As a preteen kid, I once owned "The Avengers" #1 and "X-Men" #1, but I had no idea how valuable they'd eventually become--they were likely either thrown out or given away (to the younger neighbor kids) at some point by my mother.

    "Easy come, easy go..." --C.K.

    1. A lot of folks are supposed to die......but that won't play well in a movie I guess.

      Your Spiderman observation is well taken. That's my point as well. DO a clever and snarky Spiderman movie. DO an adult and vulgar comedic movie with Deadpool. (You can even work humor into the others...just like any good film or tragedy) but why not use Dr. Strange to do something dark and surreal? Why not do a Hulk movie based on 'Planet Hulk', full of grief, angst, and anger? Do a Daredevil more akin to the depiction on Netflix. And use some thought and care in casting! (How about pick an actress to play Black Widow who not only has a great behind.....but can do a freakin' Russian accent????? Every time I see Black Widow and then hear her speak in that very American nasally whine I want to cry.)

      As for the comics, see my comment to Hands. Ah if we only knew!