By Jeffrey Waitkevich
Thor, Asgard’s god of thunder, has been one of Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most powerful superheroes since his debut in 2011.
But what would happen if he lost Mjolnir, the hammer that grants him the ability to fight and manipulate the weather?
That answer comes in “Thor: Ragnarok,” Marvel’s third and most recent installment of the film series, released Nov. 3.
The film successfully mixes the fun, light-hearted feel of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” with two Avengers to make arguably their best movie yet.
Similar to “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” Thor’s third solo film opens with a fight scene between the god of thunder and a hellish-looking demon named Surtur, who is prophesized to destroy Asgard.
The battle is coupled with Led Zeppelin’s classic “Immigrant Song.”
The 1970s hit, along with Thor’s playful banter, combine to set the tone that exists throughout Thor’s coming of age, as the hammerless god of thunder.
After defeating Surtur in the opening scene, Thor finds Loki, who is pretending to be their father Odin. Meanwhile, the real Odin is living in Norway.
Once the brothers locate Odin, he tells them of their sister Hela (Cate Blanchett), the goddess of death, who is on her way to take over Asgard.
While Hela runs amok in Asgard, Thor teams up with Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) to stop her.
Seeing Thor in a movie with sibling rivalry is familiar. But, instead of Thor’s usual foe, Loki, Hela plays the role of antagonist and becomes a near-perfect antithesis to Thor.
Where Thor is the savior of Asgard and its sworn protector, Hela’s role is strictly to take over Asgard and to destroy everyone in her way.
After Odin’s death sets her free, she promptly uses that freedom to face-off against Thor — destroying his hammer in the process.
Thor also loses his long, luscious locks, trading them in for a more complete character, who feels like the silver and bronze age of comics with his wit and snappy comebacks.
Chris Hemsworth excels in this role, which comes as a welcomed change from what was essentially “George of the Jungle” with a hammer and some lightning.
This movie serves as a strong opposite to “Captain America: Civil War.” Where “Civil War” was centered around a person versus person conflict, “Ragnarok” is all about Thor’s internal battle and growth.
“Civil War” was the serious movie where the teams come together seamlessly; “Ragnarok” is a superhero comedy with a mangled group of odds and ends that includes Loki. Naturally, that makes “Team Thor” a dysfunctional group.
Visually, Marvel put together another masterpiece.
Beyond Thor’s haircut, the rest of the characters’ appearances are exquisite. The Hulk even wore his gladiator outfit from the “Planet Hulk” comic book event.
Speaking of the big, green monster, Hulk’s character development after “Avengers: Age of Ultron” adds a subplot that bring additional depth to a character who has been given minimal attention in this area, aside from a little fling with Natasha Romanoff, also known as Black Widow.
In “Ragnarok” Bruce Banner is trapped as Hulk for the two years since “Age of Ultron.” He is finally able to calm down enough to return to his human form as Banner, but he fears that if he ever goes green again, he won’t be able to ever become human again.
The action scenes receive a complete remodel as well. Gone are the days of hammer combat —instead, welcome to Thor showing off his super strength and lightning control. Once again, this shift feels like a superior version of Thor. As cool as the flying hammer was, it was starting to grow old as Thor entered his fifth movie in the MCU.
The only aspect that was really underwhelming was the use of Hela. She has a few fight scenes to show off her killing capabilities, but she isn’t featured enough to be a memorable MCU villain like Loki or Ultron.
It felt more like she was used in a Dormammu from “Doctor Strange” role as an antagonist that really isn’t featured as much as you’d like.
This may come as a result of the light-heartedness of this movie.
Nonetheless, it capitalizes on everything that made “Guardians of the Galaxy” a hit — a lovable cast of characters, bodacious fight scenes, and unparalleled banter — and it turns Thor and Hulk into featured characters for the first time in four years.
That adds to the hype for “Avengers: Infinity War” as two more big names are added to a cast that already features Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and all of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
“Black Panther” will star Chadwick Boseman in the final installment in the MCU before they all come together for the third Avengers movie.
The Crow’s Nest rates movies between one and five stars, with five stars being the highest possible score.
Pictured Above: The latest installment of Marvel’s Thor, released Nov. 3, shows the hero losing his iconic hammer, as well as his luscious locks, but gaining a truer, more complete identity. Courtesy of Marvel Studios