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I Came, I Thor, I Conquered: The Strange Postcolonial Politics of the Thor Trilogy…

The Thor franchise has never been particularly consistent.

Compared to the Iron Man or Captain America films, the three Thor films have lacked a clear sense of unity or direction. Part of this is down to the lack of a singular creative vision across multiple films in the trilogy. Jon Favreau provided a very clear statement of purpose when he worked on the first two Iron Man films, a loose improvisational style tailored around the personality of Robert Downey Jnr. The Russo brothers ensured that Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War were of a piece with one another, pseudo-political action movies.

In contrast, the Thor franchise has always felt like the runt of the litter. The first film in the series was directed by Kenneth Branagh, and bristles with the excitement of getting to play in the comic book world of grand language and bright colours. Branagh pitches Thor as the most classic superhero movie; he borrows the Dutch angles from Batman! and the bright aesthetic from Superman. In many ways, Thor is the most undervalued film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, perhaps the best distillation of the company’s formula applied to the character best suited to it.

Branagh did not return for the sequel, Thor: The Dark World. Marvel initially hired Patty Jenkins, but that fell through due to creative differences. Jenkins would demonstrate her ability to direct mythology-themed superhero action with Wonder Woman, but Marvel replaced her with Alan Taylor. Taylor was a television director, and by all accounts was treated as such by the studio. The film ended up an overstuffed tonal mess, often feeling like a half-hearted (and confused) imitation of the wave of “prestige-tinted blockbusters” that were popular at the time.

The failure of the sequel would lead to a significant delay between the second and third films in the series, not to mention a complete change of direction. The third film in the trilogy, Thor: Ragnarok, would be directed by New Zealander Taika Waititi. Waititi was a comedy director best known for his work on What We Do in the Shadows and The Hunt for the Wilderpeople, who pitched the film as a superhero version of Withnail & I. The result was a film that felt utterly unlike either of the two earlier entries, even sending its title character out into deep space.

As such, the Thor films all exist at odds with one another. There is no consistent throughline to the series. The setting, the tone, the quality, the narrative focus; all of these elements change from one film to the next. The title character is introduced in Thor when he gets hit by a van, can become an inter-dimensional peacekeeper in The Dark World, and wield ray guns and steal space ships in Ragnarok. Attempting to impose structure or consistency upon the Thor films is an act of madness, one compounded when trying to integrate them into The Avengers or Avengers: Age of Ultron.

And yet, in spite of all of this, there are small themes and ideas that simmer through the three films in the franchise, recurring fascinations. In particular, the Thor trilogy is particularly fascinated with the idea of empire. In shifting away from the idea of Asgardians as literal gods or living stories, the franchise instead settled on the notion of Asgard as an imperial power tasked with bringing order to “the nine worlds.” With its magnificent spires, idyllic surroundings, exaggerated British accents, the Thor movies return time and time again to the idea of Asgard’s golden throne as the seat of empire.

Each of the Thor movies approach this idea in different ways, but they all play with the question of imperial legacy in a manner that is arguably more political than anything in The Winter Soldier or Civil War.

Note: This post contains spoilers for Thor: Ragnarok. Continue at your own risk.

In theory, the second and third Captain America movies are seen as the most overtly “political” of the Marvel movies, and with good cause. These are movies that unfold in contemporary America, focusing on a protagonist who dresses himself in an American flag. More than that, both The Winter Soldier and Civil War are engaged with the idea of the legitimacy of state power. In The Winter Soldier, S.H.I.E.L.D. embraces the surveillance state only for things to go horribly wrong. In Civil War, the United Nations tries to impose order on the superheroic community.

However, both The Winter Soldier and Civil War quite consciously avoid any real political engagement. The Winter Soldier has nothing insightful to say about the surveillance state, revealling that the only problem with Nick Fury’s plans to impose order at the expense of law is that S.H.I.E.L.D. is run by literal Nazis. (Of course, because The Winter Soldier wants to be marketted in Germany, it cannot call them Nazis.) The Winter Soldier does not disagree with the concept of the surveillance state, just its use by secret operatives representing the losing side of the Second World War.

Similarly, Civil War is never particularly interested in debates about the use of political power and the source of global authority. The idea that the rest of the world might not be happy with a superhero dressed like the American flag unilaterally imposing his will on the world is just a pretense for a friendly disagreement between various superheroes. In fact, Civil War goes out of its way to avoid any of its characters having anything resembling a political belief; Steve does what he does to save Bucky, while Tony is a reluctant antagonist at best. Nobody believes their side of the argument.

Of course, there are reasons why The Winter Soldier and Civil War might want to avoid making anything resembling an actual political statement. The United States is more politically polarised than ever, and it can often feel like it is impossible to escape politics in popular culture. Anything resembling a strong political statement about contemporary America risks alienating a significant portion of the audience. In particular, the President of the United States has shown an eagerness to wade into the culture wars, which may not be particularly appetising to a company like Marvel.

In contrast, the Thor movies unfold in a world that blends sixties science-fiction with classic fantasy, capturing the delightful synthesis at the heart of the original Stan Lee and Jack Kirby comic books. Directing the original Thor, Kenneth Branagh made a point to turn the stylisation way up; an emphasis on colour, a use of striking angles, the decision to film a lot of Asgard through a wide-angle lens. Anthony Hopkins spends most of the first Thor picking scenery from between his teeth. Chris Hemsworth offers the most ridiculous faux!British accent.

The Thor trilogy is much further removed from contemporary America than either the Iron Man or Captain America, unfolding in a world of “dark elves” and “frost giants.” This allows the Thor movies to pitch themselves a bit more broadly, to engage with big ideas divorced from any contemporary political context. This insulation provides a sense of plausible deniability for any ideas contained therein, akin to the way that classic science-fiction could engage with loaded social issues by taking them at a remove from the heated contemporary context.

The Thor trilogy returns time and time again to the idea of empire and power, to the role that Asgard plays within “the nine worlds.” In the grand tradition of fantasy empires, it serves as a peace-keeping force. Both Thor and The Dark World open with historical accounts of how Asgard “brought peace to the universe” by vanquishing its foes; the Frost Giants are forced into submission, while the Dark Elves are wiped from existence. The Asgardians are worshipped by thankful humans as “gods”, only forgotten because they have been so effective at maintaining that peace.

On the surface, Asgard looks perfect. Everything is made of gold. The map is surrounded by idyllic countryside and calm crystal water. The cityscape is dominated by aspirational spires. There is advanced technology, but no suggestion that the inhabitants of the realm live their lives subject to it. What army exists seems largely ceremonial. At the start of Thor, it seems like Asgard’s armed forces consist only of the eponymous hero, the Warriors Three, Sif and maybe Loki. It is suggested that Odin has managed to rule over his realm in peace and prosperity for quite some time.

In many ways, this feels like something from a work of high fantasy. It evokes the idylised nostalgia that infuses the genre, the approach to genre storytelling that Norman Spinrad skewered in The Iron Dream. On the surface, the Thor trilogy seems quite fond of Asgard. There are points in the series where the films seem to accept Asgard’s account of its own history at face value, particularly in The Dark World.

Indeed, The Dark World pretty much agrees with Odin that genocide is the only feasible solution to the danger posed by the “dark elves”, which is a troubling concept inside or outside the fantasy setting. More than that, the introduction of the “dark elves” as creatures from the “dark world” conjures up uncomfortable colonial language like the “dark continent.” Indeed, the foot soldiers known as “the Cursed” are presented as awkward savage stereotypes that play into the same uncomfortable racialised fantasy clichés as the portrayal of “orcs” in stories like Lord of the Rings.

Indeed, the Dark Elves are a whole bundle of problematic clichés in The Dark World. In fitting with The Dark World‘s clumsy attempts to ape prestige blockbusters like The Dark Knight, Skyfall or Star Trek Into Darkness, the Dark Elves are presented as a clumsy racialised metaphor for terrorism. In fact, The Dark World never even bothers to give Malekith a motivation for his violence beyond nihilism, reflecting American pop culture’s struggle to understand the motivation for modern terrorism.

Kurse infiltrates Asgard in disguise, to attack the realm from within. In doing so, he embodies many reactionary fears about immigrants and refugees being terrorists in disguise. The Dark Elves regularly employ suicide tactics; “the Cursed” are the fantasy equivalent of suicide bombs, living people turning themselves into weapons. Even in the prologue, Malekith turns his own ships into weapons. During one action beat, Malekith stages the Thor franchise’s addition to the annals of pop culture’s fixation on 9/11 imagery by ramming a ship into Asgard.

However, on closer inspection, the Thor trilogy suggests a deeper ambivalence towards Asgard and towards its ruler. The history of Asgard paints Odin as a benevolent and well-meaning leader, a man who has ensured generations of tranquility for the inhabitants of his kingdom. However, the films also repeatedly point out that this peace is both based on falsehoods and incredibly vulnerable. Both Thor and Ragnarok are rooted in decisions and compromises made by Odin to preserve the kingdom at high cost, which come back to affect Asgard with horrific consequences.

Central to this idea is the character of Loki. Early in Thor, it is revealed that Loki is not really the son of Odin. Loki is the child of Laufey, the King of the Frost Giants. Odin took the child back to Asgard and raised him as his own son. In conversation with Loki, Odin attempts to frame it as an act of decency and benevolence in keeping with his myth-making. “In the aftermath of the battle, I went into the temple, and I found a baby. Small for a giants offspring. Abandoned. Suffering. Left to die.” He explains, “You were an innocent child.”

This is a flattering narrative that suggests the Asgardians preserved some decency and integrity following their victory over the Frost Giants. But Loki is canny enough to understand that kings rarely rule through decency and integrity. “No. You took me for a purpose. What was it?” Odin acknowledges the politics of his decision. “I thought we could unite our kingdoms one day. Bring about an alliance. Bring about permanent peace, through you.” Loki is effectively a spoil of war, a political prize, a pawn on a chessboard. “I’m no more than another stolen relic? Locked up, here, until you might have use of me!”

This suggests the brutal pragmatism that tends to inform royalty and empire, the realpolitick unfolding between the lines of historical narrative. Indeed, it is interesting to wonder whether Loki is a special case. What of Hogun, the only non-white member of Warriors Three? The Dark World reveals that Hogun is a Vanir from Vanaheim, with Thor affording him the privilege to remain at home with his people while order is restored. Is this how Asgard imposes its rule upon the other nine worlds? It contrasts with the glamour of the gold decor.

In many ways, Odin serves as a counterpart to Nick Fury. The eye patch is a striking visual similarity, but both characters are essentially positioned as rulers who oversee and protect their worlds. Odin imposes order on the nine realms, whereas Nick Fury tries to keep the peace on Earth. Both men are implied to be morally ambiguous. Various films have insinuated that Nick Fury has a lot of blood on his hands, even if they have stopped just short of exploring the consequences of his decisions.

If anything, the Thor films are more candid about the blood on Odin’s hands. The Avengers positions Nick Fury as a character who is ultimately heroic, who refuses to launch a nuclear attack against New York to protect the Earth. In contrast, The Dark World makes it clear that Odin’s father committed genocide to secure his throne and preserve the natural order. “Your father is nothing but a murderer and a thief,” Lauffey warns Thor and Loki in Thor. He is proven correct over the course of Thor and Ragnarok.

The vaults of Asgard are filled with the spoils of war, relic and artifacts confiscated from vanquished foes. Thor hints that Odin might have the literal infinity gauntlet in his position, which created a minor continuity gaffe with Age of Ultron that was subsequently resolved with a throwaway like from Hela in Ragnarok. There is a sense that Asgard is a colonial power that consolidates its reign through these trophies. Loki reasonably wonders whether he is another such prize.

What is particularly striking about Thor is how sensitive it is to Loki in this particular case. Loki is technically the narrative’s villain, but he is repeatedly demonstrated to love his father. When Odin collapses during a heated argument, Loki panics. Although the climax of the film hinges on Loki letting the Frost Giants into the halls of Asgard as part of an assassination attempt on the incapacitated Odin, Loki flips the tables at the last minute and assassinates Laufey as a demonstration of his loyalty to Odin and affirming his identity as an Asgardian rather than a Frost Giant.

Indeed, Thor, The Dark World and Ragnarok both make a point to suggest that Loki is (in just about every way that counts) more of a son to Odin than Odin’s actual biological son. Loki’s plotting and scheming across the Marvel Cinematic Universe is informed by his idea of what a king should be, one inherited from Odin. One of Loki’s first acts as king of Asgard is to make war upon the Frost Giants, assassinating Laufey and deploying the Bifrost against Jotunheim as a weapon of mass destruction. His final appeal is to his father. “I could have done it, father! I could have done it! For you! For all of us!”

When Loki appears as the primary antagonist of The Avengers, the film never really bothers to provide a motivation for his plans to conquer and enslave Earth beyond the fact that it is a continuity shout-out to Avengers #1. However, his introductory scene in The Dark World retroactively explains his actions through the prism of his own strained attempts to imitate his father. “I went down to Midgard to rule the people of Earth as a benevolent god. Just like you.” Loki’s sarcasm is pointed, given the film’s emphasis on the genocide of the Dark Elves committed by Odin’s father.

The Dark World ends with this character arc complete, Loki sitting atop the throne of Asgard. However, Loki has claimed the throne through subterfuge. Loki has literally become his father, ruling the kingdom in the form of Odin. When Thor returns to Asgard at the start of Ragnarok, he discovers that Loki has remade it in his own image. Loki-as-Odin stages public performances of “The Tragedy of Loki”, reframing his own history of treachery and violence as heroism and valour. Naturally, Thor quickly exposes Loki as a fraud.

However, even in the opening scenes of Ragnarok, the film reinforces the similarities between Loki and Odin. Loki rewrites his own history for public consumption, but Odin confesses to doing the same only a few short scenes later. Odin had a daughter, Hela. He wrote Hela out of the history books to cover up his own complicity in the horrific process of empire building. As Hela tours Asgard and gazes upon the narrative that Odin has built around himself, she wryly reflects that Odin is “proud of what he had, ashamed of how he got it.”

These are very much the sorrows of empire. Powerful and successful nations have a tendency to rewrite their own history so as to avoid uncomfortable realities about how that power was established. Modern Britain is very proud of the British Empire, and much of the darker side of colonial history is not explored as part of the education system. Americans are still divided on the impact of slavery upon the Civil War, and a significant portion of American voters believe that freeing slaves was a bad idea. Native American culture is overlooked in American schools.

It makes sense that Loki should the true heir to Odin. Loki is the god of mischief, but he is also the god of illusions and lies. Odin would seem to be just as prone to deception and distortion, just as eager to manipulate the truth to serve his own ends. One of the more interesting recurring motifs of the Thor trilogy is the title character’s rejection of his inheritance. Thor’s coronation takes place early in Thor, but he spends most of The Dark World trying to avoid the responsibility. In fact, his early scenes in Ragnarok find him trying to find his father to take the throne.

Thor is very much a character from privilege, which fits his characterisation as the archetypal “jock” in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thor is full of himself, constantly boasting and bragging about his accomplishments and his abilities. In Thor, he tries to take credit for Sif’s success, before thinking better of it. In Ragnarok, he twice offers “strongest Avenger” as his voice confirmation, so convinced is he of his abilities.

Thor’s arrogance is a recurring character trait, having grown up assured that he was a prince who would inherit his father’s kingdom. “You are a vain, greedy, cruel boy!” Odin sternly lectures him in Thor, before exiling him to Earth. Thor is literally cast out of heaven, away from his life of privilege, and forced to make something of himself. Thor has his power and privilege stripped from him, literally. He materialises on Earth without his armour or his hammer. He is promptly hit by a van and then tasered.

Of course, this is the archetypal hero’s journey. It was established in Iron Man, with Tony Stark forced to confront the horrors of the legacy that he inherited from his father. (It also pops up in Doctor Strange.) However, what distinguishes Thor from Iron Man is that Thor is constantly humiliated and belittled whenever he shows any sign of arrogance. For all his bluster, he is constantly and quickly subdued. In contrast, Tony Stark enjoys every possible luxury. Stark almost destroys the world in Age of Ultron and is still made top cop in Civil War.

(It is tempting to wonder how much of Thor’s charm is down to his absence from Civil War, which essentially amounts to the carnage caused by one guy defending his best friend from another guy who lost his parents. Thor is not drawn into that particular conflict, and so is not caught up in any of the self-righteous indulgence that the film affords to Tony Stark or Steve Rogers. Instead, Thor is off travelling the universe doing more conventionally heroic activities.)

Thor repeatedly renounces the throne and the power of Asgard. At the climax of Thor, the character cleverly prevents genocide on Jotunheim by severed Asgard’s connection to the Bifrost. It is a smart piece of improvisation, but it also represents the unilateral disarmament of Asgard and a destruction of one of the sources of its political and military power. In The Dark World, Thor repeated resists his father’s attempts to name him king. In Ragnarok, Thor eventually assumes leadership, but only after he accepts the complete destruction of Asgard as a physical place.

Indeed Ragnarok is quite explicit in its portrayal of Asgard as a colonial power, particularly in its relationship to the rest of the universe. Stephen Strange makes it clear that he believes that Asgardians no longer have any business on Earth, negotiating as an equal with beings that had fashioned themselves gods. (It recalls the shift in power dynamics that have met British negotiations with former colonies like India.) More than that, Ragnarok decides to focus most of its story on Sakaar, which becomes something of a wasteland for the rest of the galaxy.

Sakaar vaguely recalls the desert world from the penultimate action set pieces of The Dark World, a barren land where the other realms (literally) dump their trash. Sakaar is populated by scavengers and outcasts. Thor and Loki are not the first Asgardians to be exiled there, finding company with the hard-drinking Valkyrie. The Grandmaster has set himself up as king of the garbage heap, repeatedly referring to Thor’s royal status by mislabelling him as “Lord of Thunder!” (Thor keeps correcting him, but it never sticks.)

Sakaar is linked to Asgard via a wormhole that the Sakaarians identify as “the devil’s anus.” Solidifying the power dynamic at play, the wormhole opens above Sakaar but below Asgard. There is a sense that Sakaar is a world that have been exploited and ravaged, where the native population has been left to pick among the garbage because all of the other major powers have chosen to dump their waste. It is appropriate that the Hulk should find himself there, given his own tenuous status in the shared Marvel Universe.

Ragnarok uses its accents as a marker of class and identity. The cast of Asgardians in the Thor franchise is diverse, including Australians, Americans, Northern Irish and Welsh. However, these actors are all united in their use of an exaggerated British accent, the Received Pronunciation associated with upper class British speech. In contrast, Ragnarok introduces a bit more diversity in terms of how its actors sound. (Indeed, perhaps the most interesting aspect of Malekith from The Dark World was Christopher Eccleston’s Manchester accent in contrast to Asgard’s posh accents.)

This applies as much to the Asgardians as to the Sakaarians. Cate Blanchett is the most prominent new addition to the cast, and her accent varies quite a bit over the course of the movie. Towards the climax, the actor’s Australian accent slips into conversation. New Zealand actor Karl Urban offers an exaggerated version of his own accent as the inept and cowardly working-class villain Skurge. American Tessa Thompson affects some vague Oceanic accent as Valkyrie. There is a sense that these accents serve to distinguish the Asgardians on the margins of the society.

Ragnarok clearly has a great of sympathy for the put-upon characters on both Sakaar and Asgard. Korg finally gets to lead a revolution on Sakaar to bring power to the people and to depose the tyrannical Grandmaster. Skurge eventually becomes a hero in an extended and awkward homage to Walt Simonson’s run. However, Ragnarok makes a point to end with the destruction of the social order on both Sakaar and Asgard, to break the cycle and start anew.

Thor’s big journey in Ragnarok is to understand that the end of Asgard is not a bad thing, an important political point at this moment in time. There is an uncomfortable nostalgia for empire that has taken root in contemporary popular culture, an appeal to a past that was more oppressive and brutal than the present. With that in mind, it seems symbolically important that Asgard should be completely and utterly demolished. Korg starts to suggest that this collapsed empire could be the “foundation” for a liberal democracy, but the film then has those foundations explode.

It is an ending that mirrors the conclusion of The Winter Soldier, which ends with the demolition of S.H.I.E.L.D. The collapse of Asgard even finds a visual reflection in the destruction of those helicarriers in The Winter Soldier. However, The Winter Soldier avoided suggestions that there was anything fundamentally wrong with S.H.I.E.L.D. beyond the fact that it was was run by literal Nazis. Civil War is much more comfortable with attempts to centralise such power, refusing to villify Tony Stark for his involvement in an organisation that might as well be S.H.I.E.L.D.

Ragnarok‘s condemnation of Asgard is different than The Winter Soldier‘s demolition of S.H.I.E.L.D., in large part because the less savoury parts of Asgardian society were consistently presented as part of the royal family. The Winter Soldier suggests that Nick Fury is a fundamentally decent guy, and that the only problem with his surveillance state is that it falls into the wrong hands. Ragnarok understands that the problems with such power and such authority are more intrinsic.

The Thor films are wildly inconsistent in their tone, their quality, and their narratives. Indeed, their attitudes towards Asgard occasionally shift and bend. However, there remains an interesting throughline that informs the trilogy, an exploration of power and empire that is surprisingly more nuanced than the nominally political films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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10 Responses

  1. This article is absolutely wonderful. Keep up the great work.

  2. “The vaults of Asgard are filled with the spoils of war, relic and artifacts confiscated from vanquished foes. Thor hints that Odin might have the literal infinity gauntlet in his position, which created a minor continuity gaffe with Age of Ultron that was subsequently resolved with a throwaway like from Hela in Ragnarok. There is a sense that Asgard is a colonial power that consolidates its reign through these trophies. Loki reasonably wonders whether he is another such prize.”

    Given Marvel’s fondness for classic eighties entertainment, I wonder if this portrayal is meant partly as a rebuke to the imperialist overtones of the grave-robber genre, which Indiana Jones revived and is still the most beloved and recognizable example of.

  3. I like this article, but I think you’re being a little too dismissive of Winter Soldier and Civil War.

    The fact that S.H.I.E.LD. was able to be infiltrated by HYDRA and gone unnoticed for YEARS is a pretty damning indictment on S.H.I.E.L.D. and similar power structures. The message behind that movie is that the sort of moral compromises that create a surveillance state and bringing in Nazi Scientists (since they explicitly mention Operation Paperclip in the movie) just makes it easier for fascism to rise and obtain power, especially when taking advantage of tragic events (like say, the events of New York invasion of the Avengers movie) to justify sticking their thralls everywhere. Nazis need not be mentioned explicitly, since any fascist power could rise under such circumstances.

    As for Civil War, not much to argue there since the political backdrop is really more an exploration of character dynamics (although one could argue that the film shows some complexity by having the superheroes not automatically be better than SHIELD by having them cause problems.) That said, “friendly disagreement”? Every character lost something in that movie. Ant Man and Hawkeye lost the chance to be with their families and become criminals; Scarlet Witch lost confidence in her abilities and trust of other people; Vision lost a potential love interest, etc. Even the two main characters of the film, Captain America, in spite of everything he does to protect him, still loses Bucky in the end and became a criminal while Iron Man lost Cap and several people he called friends due to his own position and due to not letting go of his (understandable) past trauma at the hands of Winter Soldier. Zemo broke the Avengers by turning them against each other through their flaws and insecurities, a theme that started in with the first Avengers movie that culminates in Civil War. A logical progression based on character actions.

    So what if Infinity War undoes it all by the end? At that moment, nobody won and everyone lost, and even if they come to the same side that doesn’t mean things will be the same, there will be tension and strife. We know the heroes will resolve their issues, it’s a matter of how it’s done.

    • The “friendly disagreement” comes down to the (a.) pithy one-liners exchanged between characters in combat (“We’re still friends, right?” “Depends on how hard you hit me.”), and (b.) the “ah, sure, I’ll let your allies escape and I have your number for the sequel” copout ending. More than that, there’s never a sense that Cap or Iron Man actually believe in their philosophical positions. If Bucky weren’t on the run, would Cap have an issue with the law? Would Tony have that same desire to bring Bucky to justice at the climax if not for Rhodey and his parents?

      • What about when Cap discussed his own feelings about government oversight (“they have agendas, agendas change”) that happened before he even knew Bucky was in danger? What about when Steve was willing to sit down with Tony to discuss a compromise… only to find out Scarlet Witch is being locked up and backs out? He was already going to be a problem with the Registration Act even before the events of the movie. Bucky is just another icing on a shit sandwich.

        For Stark, he talked about how his parents death affected him in his introductory scene (something about how he should have told them something before they died), setting up the conflict with Bucky at the end. He clearly does believe in the registration, since he was also discussing government oversight before Bucky came into the picture, and he has a discussion with Steve about his issues during the scene where he and Steve sit down for a compromise.

        The battle in the Airport happens at a point where the story hasn’t reached the climax yet. Aside from Cap and Iron Man, of course they’re kinda reluctant to take each other down, they were friends and coworkers for, some of them for years even! Hell the lines you’re referring to between Hawkeye and Black Widow were immediately interrupted by Wanda telling him to stop bantering.

        The ending only has Tony receiving a note from Steve. How was he going to track them down? Unless you’re implying he let the prisoners from the Raft escape… which the movie never suggests either. Tony could very well be tracking them after the note offscreen while Cap’s side are hiding in Wakanda, not a place he’d look first.

      • Tony ignores the call to intervene with the breakout on the raft, and very clearly seems happy to receive Steve’s note and promise to be there when needed. It’s a complete betrayal of the entire premise which puts character dynamics ahead of anything resembling a political belief.

        Which is fine. As I note in the piece above, I can see why you’d want to avoid politics in general. However, then don’t tell this story. It’s like The Winter Soldier, which is frustrating because it hints at big and provocative ideas for a mass market blockbuster, but pulls back from them at the last minute. It’s not the avoidance of political commentary that I dislike, it’s the hollow gesturing towards it for a bait-and-switch.

        Which is why I think Ragnarok works so well, because it does the reverse. It’s is very clearly not a po-faced political allegory, but then it makes a number of very valid points. Does it develop them as much as it could? Not really. But it never pretends to be “important.” It significantly over-achieves for the goals that it sets, and The Winter Soldier and Civil War significantly under-achieve.

  4. Absolutely great article! I learnt many new things about Marvel films for sure.

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