Advertisements
    Advertisements
  • Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

  • Advertisements

Non-Review Review: Thor – Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok is a pure pop superheroic pleasure.

Thor has always been the most archetypal member of the Avengers, the character cast in the most conventional superheroic mould. Captain America was a soldier; Tony Stark and Bruce Banner designed weapons; Black Widow was an assassin; Hawkeye was a cosplayer with a bow and arrows. In contrast, Thor was a literal demigod. He looked the part of a conventional superhero, with his billowing red cape and his awesome power.

To Hela back.

Part of the joy of superhero stories is the way in which they form a strange oral history tradition; the stock comparison is to modern mythology, and there are certain shades of that. Superhero stories provide a lens through which classic and archetypal stories might be reimagined and reconstructed. Building on Chris Claremont’s characterisation of Wolverine, James Mangold pitched the superhero as the spiritual descendant of the samurai in The Wolverine and of the cowboy in Logan.

Thor: Ragnarok understands the potential of the comic book superhero as a framework for remixing and reimagining classic tales, as a weird cultural cocktail that effortlessly blends countless different flavours. In this respect, director Taika Waititi is being faithful to the source material. The appeal of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s work on Thor was the synthesis of classic mythology and retro science-fiction to construct something that was utterly unique. Thor was both a Norse god and a cosmic champion, a superhero and a mythic figure.

Wave after wave.

Thor: Ragnarok is perhaps a little over-stuffed, particularly in its opening act. Ragnarok races to hit plot points and fill in details, with an ensemble that feels far too deep for a two-hour-and-ten-minute romp. The biggest problem with Ragnarok is that the movie is practically overflowing with delight and joy. This not a serious problem by any measure. The movie never drags, and its goofy charm is never anything but infectious. Ragnarok could be structured and paced better, but the chaotic nature of the movie is part of its appeal. Ragnarok constantly threatens to burst.

The result is a movie that lacks the finesse and efficiency that define the best of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but one that is overflowing with an energy and an eagerness that are endearing.

The ties that bind.

Continue reading

Advertisements

World War Hulk (Review/Retrospective)

This is the sixth in a series of comic book reviews that will look at the direction of Marvel’s continuity (and particularly their “Avengers” franchise) over the past five or so years, as they’ve been attempting to position the property at the heart of their fictional universe. With The Avengers planned for a cinematic release in 2012, I thought I’d bring myself up to speed by taking a look at Marvel’s tangled web of continuity. Get an overview of what I’m trying to take a look at here.

Forget sides. They’re all screwed when the Hulk gets back.

– a popular internet meme which puts Civil War in perspective

I have to admit, World War Hulk reads like something of a guilty pleasure. The fantastic artwork from John Romita Jr. (whose fantastical character designs work much better here than in Kick-Ass or even Enemy of the State) certainly helps, as does the relative brevity of the miniseries. It’s a relatively self-contained five-issue storyline, as opposed to the large House of M or Civil War which directly preceded it and Secret Invasion which would follow – it also helps that the tie-in issues seem a lot less essential (and certainly less omni-present) than they did for any of those series. World War Hulk is pretty far from perfect, but it’s an enjoyable little arc from a writer who is clearly familiar with the Incredible Hulk.

Hulk makes quite an impact...

Continue reading

Planet Hulk (Review/Retrospective)

This is the second in a series of comic book reviews that will look at the direction of Marvel’s “Avengers” franchise over the past five or so years, as they’ve been attempting to position the property at the heart of their fictional universe. With The Avengers planned for a cinematic release in 2012, I thought I’d bring myself up to speed by taking a look at Marvel’s tangled web of continuity. We’re taking a bit of a detour this week, but it’ll feed into Marvel’s event-driven central narrative fairly shortly. Get an overview of what I’m trying to take a look at here.

Finally. Hulk knows who to smash.

– Hulk, less than ten pages into the event

Planet Hulk is perhaps a prime example of the type of event-driven storytelling that has become increasingly common at Marvel in recent years. It isn’t really an event of itself, but there’s a strong smell of editorial mandate behind the plot. The key objective – and one conceded by the powers that be – was to isolate the Hulk character from the greater Marvel Universe during the Civil War event (which he would arguably have considerably complicated) and position him for the follow-up event World War Hulk. As such, exiling the Hulk to a foreign planet and watching him play out his own version of Gladiator isn’t exactly the most fluid storytelling direction. However, it’s to the credit of author Greg Pak that the story works as well as it does.

A smashing good time...

Continue reading