It began with Iron Man in 2008, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe has since released 16 films. Its 17th and latest film Thor: Ragnarok is set to hit theatres in India on November 3. Thor: Ragnarok is the third film featuring the crown prince of Asgard, Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Joining him is Bruce Banner or the Hulk, (Mark Ruffalo) who has not had a solo film yet within the ongoing MCU franchise. Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba and Anthony Hopkins reprise their roles as Loki, Heimdall and Odin from the previous installments while Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum have joined the cast to play prominent roles.

Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.
Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.

Thor: Ragnarok’s story begins two years after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). Thor and Loki face their sister, the all-powerful queen of death Hela (Cate Blanchett). Hela takes over Asgard and banishes Thor and Loki into outer space. Thor ends up on the planet Sakaar, where he runs into the Hulk.

Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.
Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.

One of the biggest draws of Thor: Ragnarok is that for the first time, a MCU film has a female villain. Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett plays Hela, the goddess of Death. Donning an all-black ensemble, with heavy eyeliner to goth it up a notch, Blanchett as Hela gets to throw force field bombs at Thor and even destroys his powerful hammer, Mjolnir. Speaking about her character’s motivation, Blanchett told Collider, “She’s been banished for a very long time and if you were locked under the Asgardian stairs for 5,000 years, you’d be a little bit cross.”

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Thor: Ragnarok (2017).

According to critics, Thor: Ragnarok has turned out to be of the best MCU films till date. It is currently holding a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi, who has made acclaimed offbeat comedies such as Boy (2010), What We Do in the Shadows (2014) and Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016), has made its big-budget Hollywood debut with Thor: Ragnarok.

Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.
Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.

To land the job, Waititi presented Marvel Studios with a showreel featuring clips from various films, including John Carpenter’s fantasy action-comedy Big Trouble in Little China (1986) edited to Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song to put across his vision for the third Thor film. His ideas impressed Marvel bosses so much that Thor: Ragnarok’s first teaser was cut to Immigrant Song, and the track also features twice in the movie.

Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.
Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.

So far, the Avengers films with their ensemble casts featured group dynamics among a bunch of superheroes and super-villains. For the first time, two marquee superheroes from the Marvel stable, Thor and the Hulk, have been brought together in a buddy movie set-up. The trailers reveal a lighter, comedic take on the Thor series – a departure from the action-adventure tone of the Avengers films. Ahead of the release, Waititi told Polygon that Thor: Ragnarok is “the most different Marvel movie to date”.

Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.
Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.

The events of Thor: Ragnarok occur alongside the events of Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) and Captain America: Civil War (2016). The three stories pave the way for the MCU juggernaut Avengers: Infinity War. Scheduled to be released in 2019, the movie brings together all the Avengers, including Spider-Man, plus characters from the Guardians of the Galaxy films, Ant-Man (2015), Doctor Strange (2016) and the yet-to-be-released Black Panther (2018).

Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.
Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.

In addition to the star-studded cast, a bunch of top names have cameos in Thor: Ragnarok. There is the obligatory cameo by Stan Lee, the creator of most of Marvel’s properties. In a comic sequence, in which Asgardians perform a play based on the events of Thor: The Dark World (2013), the younger Hemsworth brother, Luke, plays Thor while Matt Damon plays Loki. In the midst of so many actors and actresses, Jeff Goldblum’s hammy turn as Grandmaster, the ruler of the planet Sakaar described by producer Brad Winderbaum as the “toilet of the universe”, has been praised by critics. Goldblum was given complete leeway by Waititi to improvise his character, and among the scenes that did not make it to the final film is one in which Goldblum’s character sings the Sakaarian national anthem that was made up on the spot.

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Thor: Ragnarok: deleted scenes.