Thor: Ragnarok is a 2017 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Thor, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the sequel to Thor (2011) and Thor: The Dark World (2013), and is the 17th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film was directed by Taika Waititi from a screenplay by Eric Pearson and the writing team of Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost, and stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor alongside Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, and Anthony Hopkins. In Thor: Ragnarok, Thor must escape the alien planet Sakaar in time to save Asgard from Hela (Blanchett) and the impending Ragnarök.
A third Thor film was confirmed in January 2014, when Kyle and Yost began work on the screenplay. The involvement of Hemsworth and Hiddleston was announced that October. Waititi joined the film as director a year later, after Thor: The Dark World director Alan Taylor chose not to return. Ruffalo joined the cast reprising the role of Hulk from previous MCU films, which allowed elements of the 2006 comic storyline “Planet Hulk” to be adapted for Ragnarok. The rest of the cast, including Blanchett as Hela, was confirmed in May 2016, with Pearson’s involvement revealed at the start of filming that July. Principal photography took place in Brisbane and Sydney, Australia, with the film also having exclusive use of Village Roadshow Studios in Oxenford, concluding in October 2016.
Thor: Ragnarok premiered at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles on October 10, 2017, and was released in the United States on November 3, as part of Phase Three of the MCU. The film received praise for its acting and Waititi’s direction, as well as the action sequences, visual effects, musical score, and humor, with many critics considering it to be the best installment of the Thor franchise. It grossed $855 million, becoming the highest-grossing film of the series and the ninth-highest-grossing film of 2017. A sequel, Thor: Love and Thunder, was released in July 2022.
While promoting the release of Thor: The Dark World in October 2013, Chris Hemsworth expressed willingness to portray Thor for as long as “people wanted more”, adding that he was contracted for another Thor film and two more Avengers films. Producer Kevin Feige stated that the next Thor would build from elements at the end of The Dark World. In January 2014, Marvel announced that Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost would write the screenplay for a third film, with Feige again producing; the story was being outlined that July. At the end of October 2014, Feige announced that the film would be titled Thor: Ragnarok, with a scheduled release date of July 28, 2017. Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston were set to return as Thor and Loki, respectively.Hemsworth earned $15 million for the film. Feige added that the film would be “very important” in Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and also confirmed that, in the context of the film, the word Ragnarok means “the end of all things”. He felt that “people will read into that title alone what the movie’s going to be.”
In February 2015, Marvel pushed back the release date to November 3, 2017. That April, Feige was expecting a draft for the film soon, and a month later he stated that a director, additional screenwriter, and further casting announcements would be revealed “towards the end of the summer”, with filming set for June 2016. The Dark World director Alan Taylor explained that he would not be returning, as “the Marvel experience was particularly wrenching because I was sort of given absolute freedom while we were shooting, and then in [post-production] it turned into a different movie. So, that is something I hope never to repeat and don’t wish upon anybody else.” During the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con International, Jaimie Alexander said that she would reprise her role as Sif in “a very pivotal part” of the film.
By October 2015, Taika Waititi had entered negotiations to direct Thor: Ragnarok. Other directors under consideration included Ruben Fleischer, Rob Letterman, and Rawson Marshall Thurber. Elizabeth Banks had expressed interest in presenting a pitch for the film, but never ultimately met with Marvel to do so. Marvel presented the prospective directors with “the ten different ideas that we had for the movie”, asking them all to come back with a clearer picture of what the film should be. Waititi created “a sizzle reel for the tone, and some joke stuff” using clips from other films, including Big Trouble in Little China. Despite being a discouraged practice within the company, Marvel considered Waititi’s reel to be “amazing”, particularly its use of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” for the score, which Feige felt “defined what Taika was going to do with this”. The song was later used in the film itself, and for marketing it. On why he decided to pursue directing the film, after stating in 2012 that he had no interest in “big features, where the art of the project was sacrificed for profit”, Waititi said he felt “like a guest in Marvel’s universe but with the creative freedom to do what I want”. Waititi was confirmed as director of the film by multiple news outlets later in October.
In the same month, Mark Ruffalo was also finalizing a deal to reprise his role as Bruce Banner / Hulk from previous MCU films, which was confirmed shortly after. Hulk was last seen at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron traveling in a Quinjet, which was originally planned to be shown flying near Saturn. Feige explained that this was changed to an Earth-based location to leave Hulk’s fate ambiguous and dispel rumors that a film based on “Planet Hulk” was in development, since Marvel Studios had no plans to adapt the storyline at the time. According to executive producer Brad Winderbaum, the idea to include Hulk in Ragnarok came early on in development, when the production team looked at the “Planet Hulk” storyline and felt it was a “no brainer” to integrate Hulk into the Thor franchise, exploring “the idea of a planet where there’s gladiatorial games as a Thor predicament. [That storyline] was a really cool idea to us.” Feige further explained that initial discussions had focused on doing “something totally different with Thor”, and that centered on continuing the relationship with Loki and ideas for Hela, Valkyrie, Balder, and Beta Ray Bill, “but we were like, ‘We need something big.'” This turned to discussing Thor going to space, and jokingly calling it “Planet Thor”, which led to including Hulk in the film and revealing that he ultimately went to space at the end of Age of Ultron.
Also in October, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop announced that filming would take place in the country, exclusively throughout the state of Queensland, including at Village Roadshow Studios in Oxenford, Gold Coast. According to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, the production was to spend over $100 million in Queensland and employ 750 Queenslanders. Hemsworth had asked Marvel to produce the film in his home country of Australia. At the end of November 2015, Stellan Skarsgård, who portrayed Erik Selvig in the previous Thor films, said that he was contracted to appear should Marvel want to include him, but he was uncertain at the time if they did. He later confirmed that he would not appear in Thor: Ragnarok. The next month, Stephany Folsom was hired to work on the script, and Cate Blanchett entered final negotiations to join the cast.
- Chris Hemsworth as Thor:
An Avenger and the crown prince of Asgard, based on the Norse mythological deity of the same name, who has become a “lone gunslinger” searching for the Infinity Stones. Hemsworth had grown “a bit bored” of Thor after portraying the character four times previously, and wanted to take some risks and experiment: Thor has shorter hair in the film, wears a different outfit, his hammer Mjolnir is destroyed, and he loses an eye. Director Taika Waititi added that “stripping” the character down like this allowed him to become a refugee at the end of the film. Waititi also wanted to use more of Hemsworth’s comedic skills showcased in films such as Vacation (2015) and Ghostbusters (2016), and cited Kurt Russell’s performance in Big Trouble in Little China (1986) as an influence on the character.
- Tom Hiddleston as Loki:
Thor’s adoptive brother and nemesis, based on the deity of the same name. Hiddleston was interested in how Loki’s attitude has changed, saying, “he is always a trickster. It is trying to find new ways for him to be mischievous”. As the ruler of Asgard since the end of Thor: The Dark World (2013), Hiddleston notes that “Loki has devoted most of his efforts to narcissistic self-glorification. Not so much on good governance.” He also added that “the idea that Thor might be indifferent to Loki is troubling for him… it’s an interesting development.”
- Cate Blanchett as Hela:
Thor’s older sister and the goddess of death, based on the deity Hel, who is inadvertently released from prison following Odin’s death. Screenwriter Eric Pearson included the idea of Hela being Thor’s sister in one of his drafts at the encouragement of executive producer Brad Winderbaum. The decision to make Hela related to Thor, as opposed to only Loki as in the comics and Norse mythology, came from needing more impact with Hela and Thor’s final confrontation. By making the change, Pearson felt Hela became “the thing that what it is to rule Asgard, [Thor’s] family, what he’s been told, what he hasn’t been told.” Blanchett was inspired by singer Siouxsie Sioux as well as “punk-rock iconography” of the 1970s and 1980s, notably Siouxsie’s “unique, unconventional movement”, for Hela’s movement and how she “commands the space”. Blanchett found it difficult to portray the character in a motion capture suit rather than costume, feeling Hela’s headdress is “such a huge part of” the power of the character that she would have liked to wear it on set. Hela’s design was taken from the comic Thor: God of Thunder by Jason Aaron, while the character Gorr from that comic, who has the ability “to manifest an infinite number of weapons”, inspired a similar ability for Hela. Blanchett worked with stuntwoman Zoë Bell and Hemsworth’s personal trainer Luke Zocchi, and studied capoeira for the role.
- Idris Elba as Heimdall:
The all-seeing, all-hearing Asgardian and former sentry of the Bifröst Bridge, based on the deity of the same name, who has gone into self-imposed exile during Loki’s reign. After Hela invades Asgard, he helps to hide its vulnerable citizens. Describing Heimdall’s character arc in the film, Winderbaum says, “he’s gone from this elder statesmen, the gatekeeper to Asgard, to this badass warrior-wizard character who lives in the hills and kicks a lot of ass throughout the entire film.”
- Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster:
One of the Elders of the Universe who rules the planet Sakaar and enjoys manipulating lesser life-forms. Goldblum described the character as “a hedonist, a pleasure-seeker, an enjoyer of life and tastes and smells”. He also said that Waititi encouraged improvisation in order for Goldblum to “make [the character his] own”. Waititi explained that Grandmaster does not have blue skin in the film as the character does in the comics, because Goldblum had already played a blue-colored character in Earth Girls Are Easy (1988), and because Waititi did not want to detract from Goldblum’s personality by concealing his appearance. Grandmaster is the brother of Benicio del Toro’s Collector from Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), and producer Kevin Feige expressed interest in seeing the two together in a future film.
- Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie:
A tough, hard-drinking Asgardian slave trader, based on the mythological being Brynhildr, who was once a legendary Valkyrie warrior and now works for the Grandmaster under the designation “Scrapper 142”. Thompson said the various versions of the character from the comics “left us a lot of leeway” in creating the film version. Waititi “wanted to make sure we weren’t making a female character that was boring and pretty”, and Feige said Marvel wanted to pair Thor with a love interest more his equal than Jane Foster. Co-screenwriters Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost’s original draft of the film had more of a romantic relationship between Thor and Valkyrie. When Pearson started working on the film, he moved away from that storyline, instead focusing more on “the mutual respect” between the characters and Valkyrie “dealing with her PTSD. She’s someone who’s drowning her sorrows in the bottle, and I just thought that was such a cool thing that you don’t often see”. Thompson stated that the character is bisexual, which she based on the character’s comic book relationship with Annabelle Riggs, and convinced Waititi to shoot a glimpse of a woman walking out of Valkyrie’s bedroom, which was later cut from the film, as it “distracted” from the scene’s exposition. Thompson was inspired by pictures of Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) while training for the role, and worked with dialect coach Andrew Jack to create an Asgardian-sounding accent that was different enough to sound like she had been away from there for a long time. Thompson will appear in future MCU films.
- Karl Urban as Skurge:
An Asgardian warrior who guards the Bifröst Bridge in Heimdall’s absence and chooses to join Hela to survive. Urban shaved his head for the role, and worked out to “get into the zone and feel” the part even though his body is hidden under a costume. Urban said Skurge “makes a deal with the devil” and becomes Hela’s “henchman. He does the dirty jobs. And that sort of is something he has to—it plays on his conscience.”
- Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner / Hulk:
An Avenger and a genius scientist who transforms into a monster when enraged or agitated after being exposed to gamma radiation. In the two years since Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), he has become a successful and popular gladiator on Sakaar and has suppressed the Banner side during those years. He is forming the vocabulary “of a toddler”, with the level of Hulk’s speech being “a big conversation” between Waititi and Marvel since it was taking into account future appearances for the character: Ragnarok begins an arc for the character that continues in Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019). Ruffalo felt Hulk had “a swagger” in the film, and was “much more of a character than the green rage machine” seen in the Avengers films. Waititi provided additional motion capture for the Hulk after Ruffalo had completed his scenes.
- Anthony Hopkins as Odin:
The king of Asgard, father of Thor and Hela, and adoptive father of Loki, based on the deity of the same name. The character is in exile on Earth, and was originally intended to be a “crazy-looking” hobo on the streets of New York City, but Waititi ultimately felt that this was tragic rather than funny given the character’s death during the sequence. The sequence was changed to take place in Norway, to “honor” the character’s past and be more authentic to his role as a king of Asgard. Waititi was surprised by the improvisational ability of Hopkins after he was told “to be funny and to really destroy what’s come before [with the role] and recreate it.”
November 3, 2017
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