With the introductory notes of AC/DC’s Back in Black over the desert landscape of 2008’s Iron Man’s opening, it was made clear that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) would be a franchise unique unto itself.
Irreverent in its treatment of otherwise utterly absurd content with a unabashed take on present day politics viewed with the sly eye native to comic book tales, the MCU was clearly a new dawn for comic book-inspired fiction.
A far cry from the unrecognisable tones of the X-Men or Fantastic Four, more realistic than Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man series, yet not as real as the revived Batman Begins and its yet to be released sequel, The Dark Knight, Iron Man offered hope for many that if this B-List character to could win the hearts of its audience and convince us of a future with the Avengers, maybe the impossible could happen after all: true to form comic book story-telling on the big screen.
Which leaves me thinking “What the fuck went wrong?” while sitting in the theatre and watching Thor make a funny at the expense of Surtur playing the same joke twice within the first five minutes of the movie.
Let me enforce the elements of comedy here: Surtur. Joke. Twice.
I’ve always enjoyed the MCU’s employment of humour. Mostly at the hand of Whedon where the humour was mostly used to highlight how our heroes knew they were about to be fucked real good. But to open a movie entitled Ragnarok with a stand-up routine by Thor?
Okay, Asgard, we have a problem here.
Directed by Taika Waititi, best known for his series of films with tones best described as Monty Python-esque, most fans were probably hinging on a sense of descretion for a movie concerning the destruction of the Nordic gods while leading to the inevitable arrival of Thanos himself.
Instead, we’re treated to Thor and Surtur belting out their best impression of Joey and Chandler in cold open.
This is especially apparent on Mark Ruffalo’s take on the Hulk, who goes from tortured Frankensteinian monster in Age of Ultron to being the Obelix to Thor’s Asterix here.
Furthermore, the highly anticipated appearance of Cate Blanchett’s Hela also suffers right from her appearance.
Straying onto set as if she’d walk a little too far south on her way to Lothlorien, Blanchett’s evil charm and sinister tones are blanketed by the endless buffoonery of the script–a similar fate suffered by Surtur.
Not only does its meandering tone best match the equally pointless Guardians of the Galaxy 2, it also fails to serve the overarching story of the MCU. With Thanos arriving two movies away, and with Black Panther deserving of his own tale without being marred by too many complications, this is effectively the last stab at setting up for Infinity War… and it doesn’t.
Thor: Ragnarok is out in all theatres now and… is watchable.