LOS ANGELES — The end of the world is nigh, and Marvel’s brawny superhero Thor finds himself hammerless and held hostage on a kitsch futuristic planet light years away from his home, in a sequel that revamps the slightly dim-witted Norse god with irreverent humor.
“Thor: Ragnarok,” the third installment of Marvel’s standalone “Thor” film franchise, sees Chris Hemsworth reprise his role as the superhero and places Thor well outside of his comfort zone, relying on others to help him save the world.
“I was a bit sick of the Thor I’d created,” Chris Hemsworth told Reuters.
“I think that I have an obligation to change it up, you know, and give people something different, something new,” he added.
“Ragnarok,” in international theaters this week and on Nov. 3 in North America, opens with Thor hanging from a dungeon ceiling in a cave talking to a skeleton, and as things only get more bizarre, Hemsworth showcases his comedic timing with off-the-cuff jokes.
“He’s literally playing himself,” director Taika Waititi said. “You look at Chris, he looks like Thor weirdly, and he’s funny, charming, beautiful guy, lovely guy and loves hammers ... he is that character.”
After reuniting with his mischievous and devious brother Loki, Thor discovers they have a sister, the formidable Hela (Cate Blanchett), who has her eyes on destroying his celestial home of Asgard.
Thor loses his magic power-wielding hammer and is cast away by his sister to an unknown futuristic planet and held hostage by an eccentric Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), forced to fight his fellow Avenger, the Hulk.
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“Ragnarok,” part of Walt Disney Co’s Marvel film franchise, is by far the biggest production for New Zealand director Waititi, who previously wrote and directed small, independent fare such as 2010’s “Boy” and 2016’s “Hunt For the Wilderpeople.”
But the comedy in “Ragnarok” is very much a trademark of Waititi, who likes to find comedy often by placing unlikely characters in mundane settings, such as vampires sharing an apartment in 2014’s cult hit “What We Do in the Shadows.” Waititi said in fact that the vampire mockumentary may be remade into an American TV series.
“I love the idea of ... Hulk and Thor (sitting) on the bed making up after an argument -- like, you don’t see that in these films,” Waititi said.
“The fact that they allowed me to put that kind of stuff in this movie is amazing and that’s why I think it feels like a Taika film.”
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Sandra Maler)