As we head rapidly toward the end of Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we face the prospect of the giant franchise delivering the third instalment of a beloved, core character’s trilogy. Chris Hemsworth’s Thor has been a staple of the film series since he debuted in Phase One, in 2011, under the direction of Kenneth Branagh. After teaming with the Avengers in their first movie in 2012, he then returned in Phase Two in Alan Taylor’s Thor: The Dark World, followed by Avengers: Age Of Ultron. During these years, Iron Man and Captain America already closed out their solo trilogies, and now, it’s time for the God of Thunder to do the same with Thor: Ragnarok.
While there can be many legitimate criticisms levelled at the MCU as a whole, and at individual titles within it, it remains an undeniable truth that the franchise has delivered excellent, multi-film character arcs for its leading men. The greatest has perhaps been that of Steve Rogers/Captain America – although the evolution of Tony Stark/Iron Man has also been of notable quality.
So, with the bar set this high, and with The Dark World having been met with a decidedly mixed reception, to say the least, attention now turns to Ragnarok and the way in which this threequel promises to develop the Asgardian royal’s story and character. Chris Hemsworth addressed this very subject in recent conversation with ComicBook’s Brandon Davis, when he said the following:
“[Thor: Ragnarok has] a lot of stories about Thor outside of the first film like being a rightful king and earning the right to take that vision [which the character had in Avengers: Age of Ultron] and power and taking on responsibility.
“In the second film, he’s kind of pulling away from it. I think there’s still kind of a reluctance, with it all. I think he spent a lot of time on Earth. He’s part of that team now and that world. And we ended Avengers with him saying there’s something going on out there. There’s some bigger questions I need answered.
“He’s on this sort of a personal journey to do his own discovery and then find these answers for himself. His origin calls him back or has drawn him back for now, and he’s drawn to this thing. So, if there is a reluctance, it’s not necessarily him trying to become the king.
“He’s kind of has no choice I think. He gets completely torn out of anything familiar and it shifts again. This is where the whole film sort of shifts, and we’re on different worlds that we haven’t seen before. There’s different looks to all the characters. There’s different dynamics that I think the coupling of myself working with Ruffalo brought out in both of our characters.”
These comments from Hemsworth really highlight the way in which the character of Thor is truly unique within the MCU, and the way in which his solo series has needed to reflect that fact. While Iron Man and Captain America are both human and earth-bound, with earth-centric points of view, Thor literally has a universal perspective – by virtue of his status as Asgardian royalty. When we first met him, it was as a result of his personal crisis on Asgard spilling over onto earth. Thor: The Dark World dealt with some of the consequences of that initial plot, while progressing his character through his subsequent link to both Asgard, and earth.
Thor: Ragnarok, it seems, takes this progression even further. He’s travelling through space in an attempt to learn more about an impending threat to earth, which he sees as a galactic threat, because he has that wider viewpoint. In doing so, he finds himself also drawn into a battle to save Asgard from Hela, the Goddess Of Death, while these circumstances continue to tie into the wider threat that he’s been investigating.
For these reasons, Thor’s trilogy closer is perfectly timed within the MCU, as the God Of Thunder has always been what’s effectively an intergalactic ambassador to earth. It’s only right that then that it’s his film that bridges the gap between Marvel’s earth-bound heroes, their inter-galactic counterparts (like the Guardians Of The Galaxy), and threats from outer space (like Thanos). While 2018’s Black Panther – a first solo instalment for that character – is expected to provide the missing piece of the narrative puzzle ahead of Avengers: Infinity War, Ragnarok is the key to seeing the big picture, thanks to its unique titular hero.
Thor: Ragnarok arrives in UK theatres on October 24th, and in the U.S. on November 3rd.