The latest Marvel film to hit the cinemas is certainly enjoying its box office success. Thor: Ragnarok’s opening week reached $109 million at the international box office, surpassing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’s and Doctor Strange’s opening records, according to a Deadline report. It also performed a lot better than its predecessor, Thor: The Dark World, which garnered only $85.7 million in its opening week. On top of all that, it is now sitting on a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The movie’s phenomenal success validates Taika Waititi’s promise to deliver a fun take on the Thor franchise. While the movie ticks all the boxes in Marvel’s cinematic formula, Waititi managed to take it to the next level by making it an energetic adventure and visual spectacle. “My main focus was making him cool, and funny when he needs to be, heroic when he needs to be,” the director explained in a published article by Marvel. He even likened the character to Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China, in the sense that he’s a hero “making his way through the adventure”.
Judging from his previous films that feature likeable heroes, Waititi knows how to effectively place the spotlight on characters. Looking past all the jokes, the positive feedback shows that Ragnarok is a finely crafted character-driven narrative as well. All the good qualities put it in a strong position to pull in more moviegoers. So far, it proves to be an effective addition to the build-up for the coming of the next Avengers movie as well. As viewers see another side of Thor, it’s natural for them to think about how the interaction would be when all these superheroes gather.
As fans would know, Thor is one of Marvel’s poster characters, often appearing alongside Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man and the Hulk in comic book covers. Since the release of the Thor movies, the character has gained a level of adoration that led him to be featured heavily in other mediums. More than that, however, the basis for the character – the Norse God of Thunder – has long been inspiring pop culture. His hammer Mjolnir is an iconic piece that has been replicated in merchandise such as flash drives, home décor, and stuffed toys. His resemblance has also inspired the Slingo slots game Thunderstruck, which shows the deity wielding his weapon. What Marvel did though, was to shine new light onto the character by making his appearance more modern. His image in the comics and movies are probably what most people imagine Thor to be like.
Taika Waititi, a New Zealand native, is best known for offbeat indies such as What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilder people. Anyone who’s familiar with his work knows his silly sense of humor, which he cleverly infused in Ragnarok. To quote Collider’s review,
“Waititi’s priority for Ragnarok is to put the joke first to the point where we’re left to wonder if Thor was always this funny or if Marvel finally realized that Chris Hemsworth was always this funny.”
It’s likely the reason why Marvel Studios hired him in the first place. Marvel looks to be in the habit of employing lesser known directors for many of their movies. Black Panther, for instance, is helmed by Ryan Coogler, whose credits include the critically acclaimed Fruitvale Station and the seventh iteration of the Rocky movie franchise, Creed. The Russo Brothers meanwhile headed the production of the most anticipated Marvel film so far, Avengers: Infinity War. It’s clear that Marvel is prioritizing creative vision over popularity and an impressive resume. Taking into account the success of Ragnarok, their approach is working.
Ragnarok sees the arrival of Hela, the Goddess of Death, as a threat to Asgard. After an unfortunate run-in with her, Thor finds himself on a planet located on the other side of the universe. To escape, he must win against the Hulk, who happens to be the champion of the planet’s most popular gladiatorial contest.
If all of the above have not convinced you to see it yet, check out our post ‘14 Reasons Why You Should Be Excited for Thor: Ragnarok’.