Thor: Ragnarok (2017) brings audiences one film closer to Thanos in the upcoming Avengers film. It is a new chapter in the Marvel cinematic universe. Cameos by our favorite superheroes abound, and so did bright colors and nutsy sets. Thor: Ragnarok even comes with trailers for the upcoming Justice League and New Mutants films. No doubt that this truly is the age of the comic book.
Thor: Ragnarok is a hopelessly complacent film. It is as if the executives at Disney/Marvel Studios are just going through the motions (maybe they are distracted by Star Wars). Thor: Ragnarok does not take itself seriously at all, nor does it attempt to direct its playfulness towards a subversive end. It exists simply to fill Marvel’s unspoken promise of delivering a picture every season, raking in the receipts at the box office every few months.
Thor: Ragnarok isn’t even up to being the kind of decent escapist fare that Captain America: Civil War (2016) and Doctor Strange (2016), arguably, both managed to be. In large part this is due to the absence of any dramatic stakes or decent character development (it was sad to see so little done with Cate Blanchett in the role of Hela). Yet, something should also be said of Taika Waititi’s lackluster direction, the employment of actors as signifiers of “qualities” associated with the characters that they have played in other films (Jeff Goldblum especially), but also the film’s inability to deliver the spectacle of the Marvel Universe which usually yields some interesting images born out of special effects and cinematography (I’ll admit that Thor is unlike anything else Javier Aguirresarobe has shot).
So what is the appeal of the “superhero” film anymore if it loses even its most superficially attractive qualities? Honestly, apart from the spectacle of a comic rendered in live action, there isn’t very much to recommend these films, DC or Marvel, to begin with. Consistently the genre has defined itself by its lack of social relevancy, its avoidance of controversy, and its casual attempts at political correctness.
So when is Jack Kirby’s Silver Star ever going to get made?