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Of Space Witches and Strongmen

If Marvel ever tapped Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker – the team behind screwball classics The Naked Gun and Airplane – to write a comic book movie, the results would likely come close to Thor: Ragnarok.

Not that Marvel films ever neared reality, but Thor: Ragnarok’s bonkers attitude toward any logic is as goofball as they come. Dismissing (in totality) the rather grim tone of Thor: Dark World, Ragnarok dumps Thor onto a garbage world ruled by a golden-robed Jeff Goldblum. That’s not even the strangest thing here.

Guardians of the Galaxy introduced the team-up comedy, a gateway drug. Thor: Ragnarok is the full high. There’s no insistence on logic. It’s a movie where Thor and Hulk have a childish temper-tantrum in Hulk’s bedroom. It’s where Maleficent… err, Hela (Cate Blanchett) rules over all.

There’s a Mike Tyson-esque rock monster and his knife-fu sidekick. Thor visits Willy Wonka. An orgy ship is featured as a key plot point. This, this is the movie where Thor sees Hulk’s just off-screen penis. Parents will need to explain much to their Marvel loving children.

Whatever logic Marvel tried to establish in 2008’s Iron Man long since melted away and good for them

Thor: Ragnarok suggests the same Guardians comedic punch. Thor (Liam Hemsworth) even jokes about the team dynamic. But what’s here is a PG-13 muscle bound laugh riot, delirious and immature, often drunk, utterly empty, but giddy about it all the same.

Whatever logic Marvel tried to establish in 2008’s Iron Man long since melted away and good for them – Thor: Ragnarok has a full comic book tenor, a dazzling artistic neon lightshow with a burly lightning god at the center. Plus, this comes backed by a distinctive ’80s synth score – finally an all-original Marvel score shows signs of differentiation.

Talking raccoons seemed to build to a new limit, then sorcerers. Now, Marvel’s child-like superhero dreamscape goes well beyond that. It’s the softening comedy before the fall. Lure the audience in with laughs, because chances are, things won’t get on so well from this point forward in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Also, make sure that box office is padded enough; people need properly primed for the expected lunacy still to come.

Although flush with action spectacle and Thor’s continuing family drama, Ragnarok’s classification steers toward outright comedy. In the opening scene, Thor speaks brisk exposition to a skeleton. That skeleton represents the fans who know all of this, ribbing on the impatience of a modern movie crowd. Then Thor falls, stuck in a chain, slowly spinning while trying to carry on a conversation. It’s gold. End scene one. It’s only going further off the rails, so completely off, there’s a chance Thor: Ragnarok never knew where the rails were anyway.

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The completely bonkers Thor: Ragnarok ditches any pretense of seriousness for a goofy, bouncing-off-the-walls comedy. It works.

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