Marvel’s Thor films are considered the weakest of their solo franchises, with detractors citing its derivative plots and constant anchoring of storylines to Earth as well as a lack of personal style as big negative points. On the positive side, fans and critics alike love the chemistry of lead actor Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston and the special effects are usually top notch, so there’s always been room for growth. The studio seems to have taken these criticisms to heart and are set to amp thing up a whole hell of a lot in the third installment, Thor: Ragnarok. While the first two films were helmed by Kenneth Branagh (known for his Shakespearean adaptations Henry V, Othello and Hamlet) and television-turned-feature director Alan Taylor (Terminator Genisys, Game of Thrones), the new film is being directed by quirky Kiwi filmmaker Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, What We Do in the Shadows), and will break the mold of the previous two films by keeping its Earth-based storylines to a minimum and not featuring Natalie Portman as Thor’s usual love interest, Jane Foster. Instead, the plot will consist of an “intergalactic road trip” which will see Thor seperated from his hammer and stranded far from Asgard by Hela (Cate Blanchett), an ancient and evil goddess who seeks to bring about Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods. On his adventure, Thor will ally himself with his stepbrother Loki once again, as well as Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and even Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch)!
Entertainment Weekly’s newest double issue features the first official images from the film, giving us our first look at the aforementioned characters as well as story and character details we can expect to see once the film hits the big screen. As previous rumors had stated, Thor will be seperated from his enchanted hammer Mjolnir and will instead wield a pair of swords while on Sakaar, as well as sport a much shorter haircut than we’ve seen on the character. His armor also appears to be different, again, likely procured on Sakaar. Thompson looks sufficiently badass as Valkyrie, and it will be interesting to see if she is in fact Thor’s new love interest, as has also been previously rumored. The biggest reveal though has to be Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster, a “cosmic being fascinated with gaming and chance” who derives pleasure from manipulating lesser life-forms into doing his bidding.
Visually, the color palate and tone (from those close to the production) liken this film more to Guardians of the Galaxy, which is what Hemsworth has hinted at in past interviews. Seeing as how one of that film’s better aspects was that it didn’t tether itself to Earth and potentially imitative storylines, it makes sense that they would take advantage of the character’s expansive category of alien worlds and beings to give this film a creative vivacity that the previous ones did not have.
Regarding new villainess Hela, Blanchett revealed:
“She’s been locked away for millennia getting more and more cross, and then, with a mistake, she gets unleashed and she ain’t getting back in that box.”
Hemsworth elaborated on the story significance of the planet Sakaar, where Thor is banished to and forced to compete in gladiatorial death matches orchestrated by the Grandmaster:
“[Sakaar is] basically where every wormhole across the universe dumps out its trash, so you get people from all walks of life with all sorts of incredible abilities and powers. No one cares what prince or king Thor may have been in another world. Also, his strength is pretty easily matched with those he finds himself amongst.”
Blanchett’s mentioning of a “mistake” being responsible for Hela’s release is curious, as is Sakaar’s existence as a wormhole dumping ground. The latter proclamation could potentially tie in with Loki, whose whereabouts between Thor and The Avengers are still unknown following his fall into a wormhole. It would be interesting if this film revealed that Loki had actually been sent to Sakaar, which is where Thanos presumably found him.
I’m beyond excited about the direction they’re going in with this film. While we’re not getting a Planet Hulk storyline per se, I’m glad they were able to work it into the narrative of this film. The cosmic road trip angle fits almost perfectly and takes full advantage of Thor’s interplanetary setting. Also, having seen Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows, I can attest to his directorial skills and believe he can meld all these different moving parts set in a fantastical world together in a way that they will be entertaining and cohesive. Mostly, I’m just looking forward to seeing Thor, Doctor Strange and the Hulk wreck some shit.
Thor: Ragnarok is scheduled to premiere November 3, 2017.