5 years ago, Taika Waititi fixed Marvel’s Joss Whedon problem – and created a new one – Inverse | Episode Movies

when it was Even in its first phase, the interconnectivity and outrageously bright tone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe felt unique. However, it didn’t last long The Avengers established the MCU as one of Hollywood’s dominant franchises that criticism of its one-size-fits-all approach to filmmaking has surfaced. In the years since, those reviews have only gotten louder and harder to ignore (even as box office sales continue to soar).

It’s not difficult to understand why. Many of the MCU’s early titles were crafted to match the same sarcastic, confident demeanor that came to market The Avengers The career of screenwriter and director Joss Whedon. After Whedon’s humorous yet loving approach to superhero stories helped make the epic ensemble cast one of the greatest films of all time, Marvel understandably spent years injecting its sensibilities into almost every one of its subsequent films.

It didn’t take long for this approach to get old, especially when applied to films like Doctor Strange, who suffered from ill-fitting humor. Filmmakers like James Gunn and the Russo Brothers were also able to make their Marvel outings unique within the framework of the MCU, but the franchise still started to grow right away. However, if Taika Waititi was directing Thor: Ragnarok It felt like the MCU’s tired, Whedon-inspired sense of humor had finally been reshaped.

Ragnarok was generally well received after its release on November 3, 2017. Five years later, it’s still one of the most popular and critically acclaimed films Marvel Studios has ever produced. What made it work?

The film’s unique style, with an array of CGI-driven effects, painterly compositions, and a 1980s-inspired color palette, is undoubtedly one reason for this Ragnarok stands out. The film’s use of well-known pop and rock songs is partly due to James Gunn, Ragnaroks use of Led Zepplin’s “Immigrant Song” during its climax is still considered one of the best needle drops in superhero film history.

How many of Ragnarok, the song’s involvement works on both a thematic and visceral level, making it feel like the result of a cohesive, unbroken artistic vision. The same goes for the film’s pacing and story, which employs the same nonchalant, almost careless approach to the plot that is typical of Waititi’s films. In a genre so often dependent on MacGuffins and overly convoluted narratives, Ragnarok‘s decision to prioritize its themes over its plot helped set it apart from the rest of the MCU.

But while these are all positives, they don’t really explain why Ragnarok felt like such a recalibration of the MCU brand.

Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) falls through the sky in one of them Thor: Ragnarok‘s most memorable sequences.Marvel Studios

There’s a serious playfulness to it Thor: Ragnarok that sets it apart from so many other entries in the MCU. The film is undeniably tongue-in-cheek and self-referential, but it lacks the snappy, greasy edge that had become the MCU’s calling card. movies like The Avengers and Doctor Strange Not only do they want audiences to know they’re getting into the joke, but they want to come off better than the clichés and tropes they’re mocking (and leaning on).

As a result, there’s an air of smug superiority in several MCU films that’s only digestible in small doses. Vice versa during Thor: Ragnarok quickly lets viewers know it’s a joke, there’s no sense of shame or arrogance. Instead, there’s a joyous and unabashed embrace of the MCU’s inherent stupidity.

From the Matt Damon-directed recreation of the film Thor: The Dark Worldis the end of Chris Hemsworth’s opening narration, Ragnarok manages to strike a difficult balance between tongue in cheek and sincerity. In doing so, it proved that Marvel could continue to produce light-hearted superhero fare without always having to rely on the same comedic and tonal tricks it first used in 2010.

“He’s a friend from work!”Marvel Studios

It’s easy to forget now, especially after middling Thor: Love and Thunderhow much fresh wind Thor: Ragnarok was. That Waititi’s own style is already outdated is further evidence of how profoundly he has reset the MCU Ragnarok.

Five years and who knows how many Korg cameos later, RagnarokHis sense of humor was bound to feel less original today than it did back in 2017. love and thunder‘s error during replication Ragnarok’The success proves how important it is for the MCU to reinvent itself on a regular basis, and not just once or twice a decade.

To do this, Marvel must remain open to different perspectives and talents. Think Waititi what you will, but in 2017 he did what few other filmmakers have done: reinvented the MCU’s brand without breaking it.

Thor: Ragnarok is now available to stream on Disney+.

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