There will come a time many years from now when film historians will analyze Marvel Studios, and some of them will rightfully conclude that Thor: Ragnarok won over critics and fans despite its forgettable script. Producers gave the world a $180 million stick of cinematic bubble gum and the world cheered.
Once upon a time, superhero fans watched Thor movies in which actor Chris Hemsworth and his supporting cast attempted to channel literary classics like Beowulf. Director Kenneth Branagh infused Thor (2011) with tinctures of Shakespearean tragedy, while Alan Taylor churned out similar work on Thor: The Dark World (2013).
All that is over with the arrival of director Taika Waititi, who has the first “family-friendly” Marvel Studios/Disney movie that drops an “orgy” reference into a scene involving the cosmic equivalent of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s infamous “Lolita Express.”
Thor: Ragnarok is essentially two movies mashed into one. Half of Ragnarok involves a ancient prophecy in which Asgard is captured by Thor’s sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) and ultimately destroyed by a giant demon named Sutur; the other half deals with an exiled Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) fighting as a gladiator on a planet ruled by Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). The god of thunder and his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) end up stranded on the planet as well, but they soon find a way to escape through “The Devil’s Anus.”
The two brothers are helped along the way by a disillusioned Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and the whole thing is tied together by a series of jokes that often follow (i.e., undermine) dramatic scenes.
In short, Ragnarok is a film that doesn’t take itself seriously — even as it sometimes asks the audience to do so. It is a movie that is seemingly so terrified of being parodied at the MTV Movie Awards that it decided to deny them the opportunity. Chris Hemsworth, at times, seems as though he’s parodying himself playing Thor. Potential moviegoers simply need to imagine a Batman movie in which the actor was required to alternately channel Joel Schumacher’s notorious Batman Forever (1985) and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008).
“Even when you had two eyes, you still only see half the picture,” Odin (Anthony Hopkins) says to Thor during a near-death experience. “Are you ‘Thor, the god of hammers’? Hmmm? That hammer is to help you control your power — focus it. It’s not your source of strength. […] Asgard is not a place, never was. This could be Asgard. Asgard is where our people stand. Even now — right now — those people need your help.”
“I’m not as strong as you,” Thor replies.
“No. You’re stronger,” says Odin.
The exchange is meant to be poignant, but it comes after nearly two hours of improv and slapstick comedy — it’s hard to appreciate Hopkins’ turn as Odin when the audience is still wondering how a thinly veiled masturbation joke involving Thor’s hammer made it into the finished product.
The question that fans of the genre need to ask themselves after the joke-a-minute Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 and now Ragnarok is this: If a superhero movie struggles not to inject a gag of some kind into every heartfelt moment, then what does it say about the audience? What does it say about our culture?
If you’re looking for a Marvel movie that most closely resembles Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994), then run out an see Ragnarok before it leaves theaters. If you expect your god of thunder to possess a Game of Thrones gravitas, then stay far away.
Editor’s note: Check out my “Thor: Ragnaflop?” live-stream if you want to hear almost two hours of Thor-talk.
Anyone who has a job knows that you do not want to make a habit of over-promising and under-delivering with you boss. A person who does that too many times will soon find themselves in the unemployment line.
Marvel Comics under Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, for some weird reason, does not seem to have learned that lesson. It’s almost like every person who was habitually fired for over-promising and under-delivering got together and managed to land top jobs at Marvel.
For example, take this week’s Marvel Previews 2017 issue. It was billed as evidence of an industry-changing event when, in reality, fans are getting more of the same. Cosmetic changes have been made that allow for a ‘Happy-Happy Joy-Joy press’ release, but everything that caused sales headaches for the company over the past year remains.
In short, Marvel is showing the world what happens when a company lives out so many lies that it no longer knows the value of telling the truth.
For more on the sad state of affairs that is Marvel Comics in 2017, check out my YouTube video below. As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
In Marvel’s quest to prove how supercrazydiverse (one word) it is, its ‘All-New, All-Different Avengers’ actually has a cringe-inducing vibe. The company is lumping all of its new minority heroes — already derivatives of the classics — onto one team and calling them ‘All-Different.’
After the announcement, Comic Book Resources asked Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso about its obsession with diversity for the sake of diversity:
Albert Ching: Axel, looking at the recently revealed lineup of the “All-New, All-Different Avengers,” you see the female Thor, Sam Wilson as Captain America, Miles Morales, Kamala Khan — it feels like a reflection of the changes and greater diversity that Marvel has seen in the past few years. Was that a motivating factor — or the motivating factor — in putting this lineup together?
Axel Alonso: Waitaminute, is that Miles Morales? Or is that someone else? Someone new? Someone from Spider-Verse? Or maybe it’s Peter? Or maybe it’s someone he recently Googled? [Laughs]
Anyway — that roster! When [editor] Tom Brevoort laid out the cast for the new team, it just felt right — especially the inclusion of Ms. Marvel, Sam Wilson, and the new Thor. It felt like Next Level $#!#.
Got that? Marvel is taking diversity to the next level, baby. Tom “take your medicine” Brevoort has decided that fans are so sick with anti-diversity fever that the only way to cure them is to go Voltron-level diversity and then have Mark don’t-buy-my-comics Waid write the adventures.
- She-Thor (derivative)
- Spider-Man (Miles Morales, derivative)
- Ms. Marvel (derivative)
- Captain America (Sam Wilson is filling in for Steve Rogers)
- Iron Man
Strangely enough, Mr. Alonso hints that it might not be Tony Stark beneath the mask. Perhaps I shouldn’t have joked that Marvel will one day totally lose it and go with Toni Stark, The Invincible Iron Woman.
Alonso: Yeah! You’ve got a healthy mix of characters — a core nucleus of veterans that have proven they can kick ass: Cap, Thor, Iron Man — but is it really Tony inside that armor…? Then you’ve got some newer, younger characters that are still proving themselves: Ms. Marvel and Nova. And then you’ve got some wild cards: the Vision and whoever it is in those black Spider-Man tights. The diversity of the cast is going to allow for very different perspectives on the Avengers-scale problems they’re going to face.
Although Marvel’s ham-handed and self-congratulatory diversity spiels are embarrassing, perhaps the most laughable aspect of this ‘All Different’ cast is how the rules have changed. Teenagers like Miles Morales and Kamala Khan apparently get the equivalent of a ‘Monopoly’ “Advance to Go — Collect $200” card.
Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Peter Parker have to put in years of time proving himself before he even became a reserve member? Was the bar lowered for becoming an Avenger? If so, then that’s embarrassing.
Here is the bottom line: All of the heroes mentioned above are just that — heroes —but there is a difference between doing the hard work of building up a character’s reputation and prestige over time, and trying to convince fans that just because a character is a minority that he or she deserves a spot on the world’s most elite team.
Falcon? Sure. No problem. Kamala Khan? Give me a break. Miles Morales? Sure — when he matures like Peter Parker before him.
At some point in time, Marvel ceased to be the “House of Ideas” and morphed into the “House of Race and Gender Politics.” The company is still capable of churning out good stories on occasion, but more often than not it just embarrasses itself with transparent attempts to insert “Next Level $#!#” into its books when all that is called for his good storytelling.
Hat Tip: Colossus of Rhodey
By now the entire world has seen the teaser trailer for Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. There really is only one word to describe it: awesome. The first movie made over $1.5 billion worldwide. It seems fair to say that $2 billion this time around is a distinct possibility. However, if director Joss Whedon delivers the goods — and all signs point to ‘yes’ — then it begs the question: How can he walk away from a climatic Avengers 3?
Over the past few weeks it’s been rumored that Marvel wants Joe and Anthony Russo to sign on for the 3rd and 4th Avengers movies, but it feels as though everything is building to Avengers 3. Only Marvel knows if that is the case, but I can’t help but feel as though walking away before completing an Avengers trilogy would be a bizarre move on Mr. Whedon’s part.
Directing a movie on as big of a scale as The Avengers must be physically and mentally exhausting. The time away from family and the pressure it puts on the director must be unbearable. However, if Mr. Whedon has set the stage for the superhero movie of all superhero movies to be Avengers 3, then passing on the job would be like the quarterback who leads his team down the field at the end of the big game, only to walk off the field on the opponent’s 20-yard line.
Regardless, for those who were too dazzled by the visuals of the teaser trailer to pay attention to the narration, it appears as though Whedon is going Empire Strikes Back-dark with this installment.
Ultron: “I’m going to show you something beautiful — everyone … screaming for mercy. You want to protect the world, but you don’t want it to change. You’re all puppets tangled in strings. String. But now I’m free. There are no strings on me.”
Then there is this exchange between Tony Stark and Natasha Romanoff:
Tony Stark: “It’s the end. The end of the path I started us on.”
Natasha Romanoff: “Nothing last forever.”
Meanwhile, an eerie rendition of “I’ve Got No Strings” from Disney’s Pinocchio plays in the background. (The merger between Marvel and Disney continues to pay off in interesting ways.)
It’s hard to see how Marvel can continue to keep this momentum going. The Black Widow is right: “Nothing lasts forever.” Eventually, Marvel will create a movie that implodes under its own weight. Eventually, all waves crash against the shore. Regardless, when that happens it will be hard not acknowledge that it was one wild ride.
The brilliant minds at Marvel Comics — the guys who thought it was a stroke of genius to turn Doctor “I just tried to kill six billion people” Octopus into Spider-Man for over a year — are back again, and this time they’re turning Thor into a woman. Only they’re insisting that they’re not creating a “She-Thor.”
The politically correct company once known for great comic books writes:
Who is she? Where did she come from and what is her connection to Asgard and the Marvel Universe?
“The inscription on Thor’s hammer reads ‘Whosoever holds this hammer, if HE be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.’ Well it’s time to update that inscription,” says Marvel editor Wil Moss. “The new Thor continues Marvel’s proud tradition of strong female characters like Captain Marvel, Storm, Black Widow and more. And this new Thor isn’t a temporary female substitute – she’s now the one and only Thor, and she is worthy!”
Series writer Jason Aaron emphasizes, “This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before.”
These are not the Thors you’re looking Thor.
Sad. Pathetic. The most hilarious part are the fans saying, “But you haven’t read it yet!” — as if Marvel’s attempt to shoehorn politically correct mush down readers’ throats isn’t enough to warrant any kind of negative feedback.
Just as many fans would not have minded having Doctor Octopus swinging around New York City with spider-powers — provided Peter Parker wasn’t killed to make it happen — many fans are not opposed to a Norse goddess flying around earth — provided that the Thor they’ve always known and loved isn’t unnecessarily tinkered with to make that happen.
What’s next on Marvel’s list? Perhaps Bruce Banner has always been transgender. Maybe Reed Richards has always felt like a woman and he should start using his powers to mold his body in ways that better represent his (her?) true self. Where does it end? For the sake of “diversity” Marvel can come up with any hair-brained idea and then demonize its own fans who say, “Wow, that’s really dumb.”
If Marvel wants more strong female characters, then it should hire writers who can invent them. No one cares about that. Fans do care, however, when writers take a character who is a man and arbitrarily fill his role with a woman.
The problem Marvel has is that it wants diversity for the sake of diversity, but it’s not willing to do the hard work it takes to bring memorable characters into existence. It takes some serious brain power to come up with a break-out superhero that will capture the hearts and minds of generations of readers. There must be many misses with new characters before there is a hit. Marvel’s solution in this case: just make Thor a woman. Either it’s a temporary stunt or it is a real attempt at injecting a new strong female character into the Marvel Universe by using a cheap short cut. And if it is a stunt, why should Marvel get to hoist itself upon the moral pedestal of Gender Righteousness to begin with?
The odds of this idea working out as the new status quo are probably not very good, since Marvel is trying to head off the “She-Thor” label before it begins. Unfortunately, “She-Thor” is already here.
I’m looking forward to Marvel’s next attempt at creating a more gender-diverse field of superheros — Tony Stark will become “Toni” Stark because there aren’t enough female CEOs in the Marvel Universe.
Dark Elves, monsters and Tom Hiddleston as Loki in ‘Thor: The Dark World’ — what can go wrong? Not much, really. Audiences seem to agree:
Marvel Studios and Disney’s Thor: The Dark World thundered its way to a $86.1 million domestic launch as it continued its global assault, finishing the weekend with a sizeable $327 million in worldwide ticket sales.
That’s an impressive start considering the first Thor, which debuted to $65.7 million domestically in May 2011, grossed $449.3 million globally in all. The sequel nabbed one of the top November openings of all time in North America, although it couldn’t quite match the $88.4 million earned by Skyfall on the same weekend a year ago.
Marvel Studios is making it look easy at this point, which is rather impressive given the number of moving parts each of these films have. Kevin Feige, President of Production at Marvel Studios, must be eating his Cheerios or Wheaties over the last couple of years, because his job performance has been strong.
Anyone who goes to ‘Thor: The Dark World’ looking for a complex plot will be disappointed: Creatures of darkness want to fill all of existence filled with darkness. Thor must stop them. He does. The end.
Those who are looking for a little action, a little adventure, a helping of humor and a good dose of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki making everything he touches awesome will be pleased. Adopted kid who has all sorts of issues with mother, father and brother constantly plots and plans ways to show that he loves them — and hates them — to death. The end.
Chris Hemsworth does a fine job as Thor — he looks the part, is believably noble and worthy of Mjolnir — but it’s the nature of his relationship with his adopted brother Loki that makes the trek to the movie theater worth it. Hiddleston, in many ways, is the glue that holds the whole thing together. Without him, ‘The Dark World’ becomes an exponentially duller film. It may seem sad that, in his own movie, Thor needs Loki in order to achieve his full box-office potential, but is it really? You can’t have Yin without Yang, and you can’t fully appreciate Thor’s honor without holding him up to the actions of his mischievous brother.
At one point in ‘The Dark World’ Thor says, “Mother wouldn’t want us to fight.” Loki’s response: ” But she wouldn’t be that surprised.” Note to Thor: moviegoers want you to fight. We like when the anger and the jealously and the sibling rivalry plays out on screen because in our own mini-Asgards we deal with it every day. Do we overcome the pettiness and achieve great things, or do we give into our darker half and do as Loki would? If we see ourselves as manipulators, do we manipulate to serve our own selfish ends, or do we manipulate others so that they might soar? Seeing that struggle as depicted by Hiddleston is what elevates Marvel’s second Thor movie from “I’ll wait until it’s on Netflix” to “I’ll be there opening weekend sitting one row behind the girl with the Thor outfit on.”
If you’re looking for a fun “popcorn” movie to see this November, make a trip to see Thor’s second solo movie. If you want to see something that is critically acclaimed that doesn’t lend itself to carelessly flicking popcorn into your mouth, see “12 years a slave.”
Note: To the person who sees Marvel movies and then continues to leave as soon as the end credits begin to roll, I have a question for you: Why? You know you’re not supposed to, but you do it anyway. I say this out of love: Get with the program, already.
Remember when the director of Captain America went out of his way to say Cap wouldn’t be “a flag waver”? Remember when Marvel then changed the title in Russia to “The First Avenger” to make a few extra bucks? The movie succeeded, despite Marvel’s efforts to sabotage a good thing.
The Avengers opens in two weeks, and it looks like conservatives once again must be wary. Joss Whedon, who up until this point gave me nothing but confidence, has shown his cards—and there is at least one liberal joker in there (or should I say a Loki?). Hat tip to the fourcolormedia monitor:
New York Times: What would be an example of something you didn’t figure out until later in the process?
Joss Whedon: One of the best scenes that I wrote was the beautiful and poignant scene between Steve and Peggy [Carter] that takes place in the present. And I was the one who was like, Guys, we need to lose this. It was killing the rhythm of the thing. And we did have a lot of Cap, because he really was the in for me. I really do feel a sense of loss about what’s happening in our culture, loss of the idea of community, loss of health care and welfare and all sorts of things. I was spending a lot of time having him say it, and then I cut that (emphasis added).
Why? Why must every liberal writer feel the need to beat their audience over the head with statism? I wouldn’t mind as much, but Joss Whedon has everything historically ass-backwards. Captain America was frozen after World War II, before Medicaid and Medicare even existed. Social Security morphed into something entirely new and different than the “Social Security” that FDR signed into existence (i.e, much more expansive). Hundreds of billions have been sunk into individual entitlement programs since their inception and, in fact, the “loss of community” Whedon frets over is due in large part to many of the programs liberals shill for. When the federal government usurps the important roles local community leaders, family and faith-based organizations play in society the result is more poverty, out-of-wedlock birth rates and the destruction of the family unit.
What’s worse, Whedon didn’t cut the bit because he realized it would be a bone-headed move to insert blatant liberal claptrap into Cap’s mouth—he did it because it slowed down the rhythm of the movie. Who knows how many other leftist talking points made it into the film.
Let’s be honest: The idea that Captain America would be anything other than a conservative (if we’re going to play that game, Joss Whedon), is a joke. Let’s go down the list, shall we?
- Captain America is a guy who literally wraps himself in the American flag. Leftist American professors would hold classes titled “The Jingoism of Captain America” each semester, they’d write a new chapter for the textbook each year, and then they’d make their kids buy the latest version for $50 a pop. Couple that with Cap’s blonde hair and blue eyes and college campus Progressives would have entire campaigns dedicated to demonizing him.
- Steve Rogers is a big Boy Scout. He’s a straight arrow. I can’t imagine he would have been at Woodstock, if given the opportunity. He would have been a West Point guy (hence, Captain America), and West Point doesn’t churn out too many liberals.
- Captain America is a super solider, and one who would undoubtedly live his life in accordance with The Seven Army Values: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service. Honor. Integrity. Personal Courage. Ask the guy who has collected unemployment checks for 99 straight weeks, Joss Whedon, what he thinks about each of those words. My suspicion is that the psychological profile that manifests itself would look nothing like Captain America’s.
- Good soldiers don’t make excuses; they “adapt and overcome.” Do you want to know who does make excuses? Liberals. In fact, even speaking about “personal responsibility” is considered racist code language.
- Ask yourself whether Captain America would have a worldview more like American Sniper Chris Kyle, or Sean Penn. That’s what I thought.
The list can go on and on. The fact is, Steve Rogers is Captain America, not Mr. America. He’s a military man. An infantryman. He stared down the Nazis, but yet liberal writers would have us believe he’d side with liberal moral relativists in the year 2012? Give me a break.
Regardless, I don’t even want to play this game, but liberals at Marvel keep making these things an issue. When I go to see The Avengers I don’t want to get a campaign commercial for Barack Obama or the Democrat Party. Stop. Please. You’re embarrassing yourself, and ensuring that guys like me don’t defend you when Democrats turn their social engineering on the comics industry due to studies on violence.
Dear Joss Whedon,
Watch Thomas Sowell for a bit. Learn something. You can thank me later.
Update: The results are in, and it looks like Whedon denied his urge to overtly politicize the film. There are very interesting ideas to explore in The Avengers, but Joss never goes out of his way to tell his viewers what to think. Smart move.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is trying to find an 11th hour solution to Marvel Studios’ The Avengers, which is primed to be one of this summer’s biggest blockbusters. Sources close to producers Avi Arad and Jon Favreau have confirmed that the California Democrat has been in touch with Marvel Studios, and that a “windfall profits” tax will be in place before Friday, May 4 if Democrats can cobble together enough votes.
The Associated Press received the following from Pelosi’s office late Monday:
“Investments.” “Risk.” “Reward.” Such is the language of the Republican Party. Extremists. The GOP would have you believe that it was a “risk” to set up an Avengers movie with a series of films based on many of the individual characters: Thor, Hulk, Iron Man and Captain America. They would have you believe that an Avengers movie was no sure bet, and that the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on these movies and their marketing campaigns by no means guaranteed success. Rubbish! It’s high time Hollywood paid its fair share. If Democrats have their way, Marvel Studios will be the first to pay a windfall profits tax on its flagship characters, in addition to their corporate taxes (which also need higher rates). Warner Bros. will then follow suit in August, when The Dark Knight Rises takes number one at the box office. Behind every Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark movie are greedy Hollywood producers; that will change starting today.
The Hollywood Reporter seems to back up the Minority Leaders predictions, at least in this isolated case, although the philosophical debate is something that will have to be settled inside the Beltway on on cable news airwaves:
Avengers also is tracking better than Lionsgate’s blockbuster The Hunger Games, which posted a record March bow of $152.5 million to score the third-best opening of all time behind Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Dark Knight, respectively.
According to first tracking, unaided awareness in Avengers is 13 percent, compared with 10 percent for Dark Knight and 11 percent for Hunger Games; first choice is 23 percent, tying with Hunger Games and higher than the 19 percent for Dark Knight.
Total awareness is 85 percent, compared with 76 percent for Dark Knight and 74 percent for Hunger Games; definite interest is 61 percent, versus 62 percent for Dark Knight and 54 percent for Hunger Games.
Asked to comment, House Majority Leader John Boehner set up a stark (pardon the pun) contrast between Republicans and Democrats:
“The windfall profits tax proposed by Democrats will go nowhere because Americans want more Marvel movies, not less—and taxing Marvel Studios will result in less movies. Let me tell you what House Republicans will do to this bill in a way that Marvel fans—and fans of The Hulk—can all understand. BOEHNER SMASH!“
There’s a new Avengers trailer out, and as momentum builds towards its release it’s probably a good idea to discuss what makes this particular team of superheroes so fascinating to its fans. The director, Joss Whedon, has accurately identified and attempted to address one of the core creative challenges for the project: the team’s diversity.
Reporter: I imagine the other hard part about that is balancing a god and who can create lightning, and a guy with a bow and arrow, and giving them both the action that brings out the best in them.
Whedon: Yeah. Well, I feel like we pulled that off. At the end of the day, the guy with the bow and arrow is a lot easier to write gags for than the god. But we created a situation where everybody can be useful, and everybody can be in jeopardy, and they really can act as a team, even though — as we have known from the first issue of ‘The Avengers’ comic — there’s no reason for these people to be on the same team (emphasis added).
Just as the American Experiment wrestles over how to deal with its diversity (How the heck do all these different people with different heritages and temperaments come together into a cohesive force for good in the world?), The Avengers must do the same. Americans come together because the country is founded on an idea—that free men are granted inalienable rights by their Creator—and that governments, deriving their powers from the consent of the governed, have a duty to uphold those rights. The Avengers come together because there are some problems that require anyone with an ounce of honor to put aside their ego and do the right thing.
The Avengers are also great because they are very “American”:
- Captain America: The ideal solider and a boy scout with the strength of 100 men (yet very much an individual)
- Iron Man: Entrepreneurial, highly individualistic, successful and smart without ever apologizing for it
- Hulk: A force whose only desire is to help and heal, but who nonetheless has awesome power to destroy when angered
- Thor: A man (or should we say country?) with godlike power, who must have humility before realizing his true potential
- Hawkeye: He’s brash and cocky, but he always hits his mark
- Black Widow: The Russian spy who defects to America (i.e., the immigrant who leaves oppression for freedom)
Notice a trend? All very distinct personalities. All from very different backgrounds. All very individualistic. And yet, they come together for a common purpose. The Avengers is a comic book that could not have been created in Communist China, Islamic police states across the Middle East, or countries on cultural life support throughout most, if not all, of Europe.
So this summer, take joy in a creative endeavor with a cast of characters only America could have produced.