Ragnarok means the end of the world in Norse mythology, and the end of Asgard in the context of the latest Marvel film, but it also applies to Thor's character as we've known him so far. The serious, arrogant, and dramatic God of Thunder we've met in the first two films has been completely discarded for this third solo act, giving way to a much lighter and comical character. And that's Thor: Ragnarok's essence; it's a comedy that almost never takes itself seriously, and isn't afraid to let the drama stand aside to provide some good old fun for the viewer.
This may not fit well with some of the character's fans, since Thor isn't exactly a funny hero in the comic book. The fact that the film never takes anything seriously implies that there is never a real sense of urgency or danger to the heroes. It's the Marvel film that comes closest in tone in the Guardians of the Galaxy films, and if by that it lacks dramatic impact, it's also undeniable that we had a lot of fun throughout the film, with several genuine chuckles.
Thor: Ragnarok is all about the end of Asgard, associated with the return of Hela, the Goddess of Death. As you may have already seen in the trailer, Hela manages to destroy Thor's hammer and expels him from Asgard, which divides the film into two very different tones - on the one hand is Hela, and her efforts to subdue the people of Asgard under her rule, and on the other, Thor, who ends up on a strange planet dominated by the Grandmaster, played by Jeff Goldblum. This character assumes the role of secondary villain, although he's not necessarily evil. He's a rather eccentric and carefree character, a personality that fits like a glove in the pace Marvel intended for the film.
As the trailers have already shown, Thor will find Hulk on this planet, which has been missing since the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron. It's a version of the Hulk we haven't seen on the big screen before, resulting from having the green beast taking control of the wheel, while Bruce Banner is left dormant. This means the Hulk has evolved during this time, now being able to talk, and he has more emotions than the simple will to crush everything. Although evolved, Hulk is still something of a child trapped in one of the most powerful bodies in the universe, which naturally creates some moments of comedy.
The chemistry between Thor and Hulk is a delight, and when both are on the screen, it's hard to look away. Loki and Valkyrie also join the mix, two characters that perfectly fit the tone of the film, each with their own moments of brilliance.
Although entertaining, Thor: Ragnarok wouldn't be a superhero film without some good old fashion action. There are several moments of great spectacle in the film, although the superhuman abilities of almost all involved take the urgency away from the film. There's only one scene where something serious happens, but due to everything else that sets the pace of the film, it ends up feeling out of place.
Thor: Ragnarok also has some surprises up its sleeve, with appearances from characters and actors we didn't expect to see. We won't naturally ruin these cameos, but suffice to say that there are lots of fan-friendly references in the film. Some will be easily identified, others will require close attention, but overall there's a lot to discover in Thor: Ragnarok.
Although it's light-hearted, the events in Thor: Ragnarok have huge implications for the character's world, and even for the rest of Marvel's cinematic universe. It'll be interesting to see how Thor will evolve in the next films, particularly in Avengers: Infinity War (it's not known if this was the last individual Thor movie, or if more will be released). We liked the direction Marvel took the character in, and the film is fun from start to finish, but we hope it's something contained to the hero.
Something like Black Panther and Infinity War will need a different tone, then, and future films will have to take themselves a lot more seriously than Thor: Ragnarok does. The comedy will certainly return with Ant-Man 2, but after that we want to see something with more dramatic impact in the films we mentioned. Back to Thor: Ragnarok, it's a feel-good superhero movie that's best enjoyed in the company of a giant bucket of popcorn. If that's your cup of tea, you're sure to leave the cinema with a smile on your face.