Hela's backstory casts a whole new light on Odin. She's actually his daughter, and his firstborn and thus Thor's biological sister. Back then, Odin was a conqueror who, along with Hela, went on to establish his empire by conquering the Nine Realms with his army. Then one day, he decided that he didn't want to go to war anymore and banished Hela, who was getting out of control, erasing all evidence of her existence and covering up his own atrocities. Is he truly The Atoner or a hypocrite? Especially regarding his advice towards Thor in the first film: "A wise king never seeks out war." Did Odin come to understand that he had not been a wise king?
Speaking of Hela and on a smaller scale, when she sees Fenris, is her upset reaction a case of Even Evil Has Loved Ones or just the shock of seeing a useful tool ruined?
When Hela says that she thought Asgard would be happy to see her, is she just being a Deadpan Snarker, or is she genuinely upset that her own people don't seem to recognize her?
Speaking of Odin, his conquest of the other realms. Did he really do it out of ambition as Hela claims or was it necessary to bring peace to them? Given how King Bor spent his life fighting wars only to eventually die in one and the lack of Asgardian intervention leading to war between the realms, Odin may have had to do it to secure peace. He did steal their resources to enrich Asgard, though, so if it was necessary he was certainly willing to profit from it. Or, given that Hela explicitly draws her strength from Asgard, to the point where it's actually a plot point, was Odin conquering other realms and making Asgard stronger for her sake, only to stop once he saw what she had become?
Given how most of Asgard doesn't seem really shocked that "Odin" was really Loki, was it an open secret that "Odin" was a fake, but people didn't care because either Loki did better than expected or given how irrational Odin became in Dark World, nobody was in a rush to get him back? It could also be argued that they didn't know either as the Warriors Three would probably have tried to fight against Loki instead of supporting his usurpation of the throne.
Was Surtur really so weak as to be beaten effortlessly by Thor, who then caused Ragnarök out of necessity, or once Thor told him that he'd rip the crown off his head and store it in Odin's vault did Surtur allow himself to be killed so that his crown gets in close proximity to the Eternal Flame?
Angst? What Angst?: The very perfunctory deaths of the Warriors Three and Thor's lack of mourning for them attracted negative responses from some fans, ignoring the fact that he is never notified of their deaths on screen.
Taika Waititi has said that he and the writers made a much greater effort to ensure Thor himself actually has an engrossing story arc this time, as many people felt his previous film appearances had him overshadowed by more interesting characters like the other Avengers or Loki. At a convention appearance in Australia, Chris Hemsworth even revealed that he and Waititi had been unhappy with the direction Thor had been taken in recent movies, and intentionally envisioned his storyline in Ragnarok as a course correction.
One teaser poster seemed to imply that Thor will finally wear his iconic winged helmet in battle, the lack of which in previous films has been polarizing among fans, to say the least. This was later confirmed in footage shown at CinemaCon.
A major complaint many had about Thor: The Dark World was how Loki's beefed-up role (thanks to the popularity of his appearance in The Avengers) had something of a stranglehold on the movie, and resulted in the lead villain and many other characters being underutilized. While Loki still has a big part here, it's been toned down from The Dark World, and he's used much more judiciously and effectively this time. He gets some great moments while still allowing for other members of the cast to shine. He also gets knocked around quite a bit, bordering on outright Butt-Monkey status at times. Likewise, Heimdall, who fans felt was left vastly underutilized in the prior two films, is given a larger role.
The first Thor film included a glimpse of the Infinity Gauntlet in the vault of Odin's treasures which turned into a Continuity Snarl when the films started to feature the Infinity Gems. Various creators have tried to explain it's presence by saying there are two gauntlets in existence which was met with varying degrees of acceptance. To clarify things, Hela visits the vault and dismisses Odin's gauntlet as a fake. It's intentionally unclear if she was referring to the gauntlet or the stones but it is an obvious savings throw to remove a point of contention from the MCU's "Infinity War" continuity.
A minor example in the character Korg: in the intro of Thor: The Dark World, Thor faces off against a Rock Monster who is clearly intended to be Korg (identical down to the shape of his head and the specific design of the leather harness he wears and on the commentary, Kevin Feige even calls him "Korg"), and the God of Thunder shatters him to gravel with a single strike of Mjölnir.This clearly didn't sit well with someone, but since his name was never mentioned on screen, and given the opportunity presented in adapting Planet Hulk in the threequel, they apparently decided to "reboot" Korg as a different member of the same species, using a notably smaller and slightly less comic-identical design.
The Dark World gave Hogun the Grim much less screentime than the other two Warriors Three, prompting some accusations of Marvel shafting its Asian actors. Ragnarok goes the opposite direction, giving Hogun the most screentime and dialogue of the Warriors Three.
After Thor, there were complaints that Lady Sif was the only female warrior in Asgard, and people were wondering where the Valkyries were. The movie explains that the Valkyries did exist, and all but one were killed off in a battle with Hela.
Another criticism of the previous two Thor films is how they undermine the Thor mythos by treating the Asgardians as merely Sufficiently Advanced Aliens. Ragnarok addresses this criticism by exploring Asgard's mythic roots from the comics, and a lot of their supernatural feats such as Loki's illusions and Thor's lightning are explicitly a result of magic and not Sufficiently Advanced Technology.
Award Snub: The film not getting even a nomination for cinematography (widely agreed to be its strongest element) in the 2017 Oscars received a fair bit of backlash from fans.
Awesome Art: The movie posters (both the first one and the second one) are amazing.
Broken Base: While the film has received a lot of praise for its Lighter and Softer approach that focuses on the cosmic side of things, and for making Thor a more "fun" character, there are a number of fans who don't feel like the comedic, Guardians of the Galaxy-esque tone that is present for most of the movie really fits the story being told, particularly when it's dealing with and named after Ragnarok, and that all the dark moments in the movie become a case of Mood Whiplash as a result. One particular joke towards the end — with Cloudcuckoolander Korg making his "Now those foundations are gone ... Sorry" statement as the Asgardians watch their home being destroyed — is especially contentious.
Complete Monster: Hela, Goddess of Death and Thor's monstrous elder sister, helped Odin conquer the empire of Asgard, but when he tired of war and finally sought peace, she was sealed away when her bloodlust and cruelty grew too great. After murdering his guards, Hela was finally subdued and sealed but massacred the Valkyries until only one remained when they sought to prevent her escape. Upon returning to Asgard, Hela slaughters all its soldiers when they resist her and tries to claim the sword of Heimdall to open the gate to the other Realms. When Heimdall saves the population of Asgard, Hela attempts to have her undead soldiers slaughter all of Asgard's people while forcing Thor to watch them die—after she has blinded him in one eye. She even kills her own right-hand man, Skurge, when he takes a stand to defend Asgard's civilians. Monstrous, sadistic and insatiable, Hela seeks to open the gate to all other Realms so she can conquer everything and continue her work of drowning them in blood and tears.
Darryl Jacobson, Thor's roommate from the Comic-Con video. Many fans are hoping that he'll be made canon.
Most of the reviews have praised Valkyrie as one of the best parts of the film, to the point where some even claim she overshadows the film's other new additions like Skurge and even Hela. The reaction was enough to give Tessa Thompson the courage to suggest to Kevin Feige that there could be a movie about herself, Black Widow, the Wasp, and Scarlet Witch teaming up, and a version of her to be made a pseudo-Canon Immigrant via the relaunch of Exiles. Thompson even received a BAFTA Rising Star nomination and a Saturn Award Best Supporting Actress nomination after her performance.
To no one's particular surprise, The Grandmaster pretty much grabs the movie by the neck and runs away with it despite not having that big a role in the plot, since he's pretty much Jeff Goldblumbeing Jeff Goldblum.
Heimdall retains this status from the previous films, and gets a beefier role this time to boot as the man single-handedly protecting the Asgardian civilians from Hela's army.
Skurge is this as much as the comics version was, thanks to the movie adapting a version of his iconic Last Stand at Gjallerbru, with a great character arc leading to it that takes him from being a comedic buffoon to a tragically conflicted villain to a truly badass hero.
Fandom Rivalry: Par the course, DCEU and MCU fans were already split over whether this or Justice League would be the bigger film of November 2017. It's especially noteworthy for being the first time a film from the MCU and the DCEU are being released in the same month. Complaints have already surfaced on social media from the DCEU fanbase about most critics praising the movie as "fun", and after Justice League's mediocre reception and financial failure, cracking jokes about how one of Marvel's former B-list characters managed to outperform one of the most popular superhero teams in existence has become quite popular.
Fanon: There are few fans who, jokingly or not, think that the Kronan Marauder from Thor: The Dark World was Korg's father, whose death by Thor caused Korg's mother to find another boyfriend.
Fan-Preferred Couple: Though Thor/Valkyrie does have fans, Loki/Valkyrie is far more popular, owing to their single but charged scene. Ironically, the only person Valkyrie is shown actually being friends with is the Hulk.
Fans Prefer the New Her: The general reaction from most about Thor's new look. The stripped-down armour to something less elaborate and more like an actual Viking, mixed with Kirby-esque armour plates and a ripped half-cape, and the shorter haircut, all combines with the new 'god mode' lightning powers to make Thor look badass. Though, some do find the hair to be an Unnecessary Makeover.
He's Just Hiding!: So far in the franchise, Hela is the closest thing to a physical personification of Death, and many fans have jumped on the theory that she is at least an incarnation of the entity Thanos seeks to court. Because of this, her defeat at the hands of Surtur becomes a case of Never Found the Body for those who stick to the theory. Even with the eventual reveal that the MCU version of Thanos doesn't entirely share his comic counterpart's romantic obsession with Death, at least in the literal sense.
During the initial fight with Surtur, Thor mentions how he "makes grave mistakes all the time. Everything seems to work out." which is nothing but smack talk and banter. In Avengers: Infinity War, Thor makes his biggest mistake not aiming for Thanos' head, leading to half of the universe (including what remains of his people) being killed and completely breaking Thor himself.
Odin saying that Asgard isn't a place, but the people who make it. Infinity War opens with the slaughter of half the Asgardians, including Heimdall and Loki. Then, Thanos kills half the universe, bring Asgard to about 1/4 of their former strength. Come Endgame, theyre just a handful of refugees living in a small coastal town.
Loki's HeelFace Revolving Door tendencies are played for laughs here, with at one point Thor completely anticipating his betrayal and chastising him for having become predictable. In Avengers: Infinity War, Loki tries it on Thanos, who likewise isn't fooled and murders Loki for crossing him.
Valkyrie suffered an enormous breakdown and became an alcoholic due to her run in with Hela, but recovers thanks to Thor. After the events of this film and Infinity War, this is the fate that befalls Thor himself in Endgame, becoming grossly overweight and unclean even worse than Valkyrie was. To add harsher irony to it, Thor passes the title of monarch to Valkyrie, seeing him in his current state unfit to lead Asgard.
The film features the Hulk and Valkyrie working together, while Doctor Strange makes a cameo. This ironically makes the film a more accurate adaptation of The Defenders than the Netflix In Name Onlyadaptation.
Taika Waititi previously directed a short, non-canon Mockumentary that detailed what Thor was doing during the events of Captain America: Civil War, which ended with a dejected Thor declaring that he was going to form his own team since the Avengers hadn't bothered to contact him. An actual plot point in Ragnarok has him recruiting a new team to help defeat Hela.
The scene where Thor refers to the Hulk as a "friend from work" was based on a recommendation by a boy who was visiting the set on behalf of the Make a Wish foundation. Ironically, in the original Planet Hulk storyline, the Silver Surfer also referred to Hulk as an old friend when they met on Sakaar.
The Ship-to-Ship Combat of Thor/Jane and Thor/Sif from the previous two films becomes this when this film gets rid of both characters in favor of a completely different potential love interest, so at the moment, neither ship wins.
While he was doing a publicity piece for Thor: Ragnarok over at IGN, Taika Waititi read a comment from a poster with the username "Bruce Wayne", who insisted Ragnarok looked "beyond stupid". Waititi responded by sarcastically saying the movie was indeed beyond stupid, and that's why it would "take all the money from Bruce Wayne". He ended up being correct, with Thor: Ragnarok having a far better opening weekend than Justice League, and box office analysts suggesting that releasing Justice League so close to Ragnarok contributed to its less-than-expected performance in the tallies.
Matt Damon cameos in the film with his character pretending to be dying as part of a play. Six months later he would cameo in another, completely unrelated Marvel film where his character ends up dying for real.
Bruce telling Thor that he can be useful without the Hulk's assistance is met with the latter's skepticism ("Is he, though?"). Come Avengers: Infinity War, the Hulk's only involvement in the story is getting the holy hell beat out of him by Thanos, while it's Banner who warns the heroes of the Mad Titan's impending arrival, suggests how to safely get the Mind Stone out of Vision, and even uses the Hulkbuster to take out one of Thanos's lieutenants. Looks like Bruce was right all along.
There's the funny scene where the Quinjet AI identifies Hulk not Thor as the 'Strongest Avenger'. Although it's Played for Laughs, in Infinity War we see a new side of Thor that challenges the title. Hulk get pawned by Thanos, while Thor forges a new hammer/axe, defeats the Outriders of Thanos within minutes, and comes very close to taking down Thanos all by himself.
One of the film's Fan Nicknames is Asgardians of the Galaxy due to its status as an intergalactic space comedy. Come 2018 and we're actually getting a comic called Asgardians of the Galaxy featuring Valkyrie and Skurge in the cast.
Also in Avengers: Endgame Thor decides to pass leadership of ruling the remaining Asgardians on Earth to Valkyrie and joins the (now mostly revived) Guardians team instead. He really is an Asgardian of the Galaxy now!
In this film, Thor attempts to convince the Hulk to come help him by offering him a way back to Earth. Hulk refuses this offer, retorting that Earth hates him. Come Avengers: Endgame, the Hulk has practically become a celebrity on Earth in the five years after Thanos's snap.
For comic fans specifically, the glimpse of Skurge apparently reenacting the scene of himself standing alone at Gjallerbru.
From the second trailer, the sight of Thor summoning lightning without Mjölnir, complete with glowing eyes, and Hulk leaping right at Surtur—a greenskin David charging right at a flaming Goliath, if you will—caused people to lose their minds.
Hulk can hold an entire conversation. While Hulk has spoken one or two lines of dialogue in every live-action movie he's appeared in, this is the first time we've seen him talk for an extended period of time.
Thanos's ship just apparating right next to the Asgardians' ship, presumably to take the Space Stone.
During their fight on Sakaar, Thor uses the very same lullaby on Hulk that Black Widow did in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Later, when Thor escapes to the Quinjet to try and leave Sakaar, Hulk tears after him to smash the Quinjet, shouting "Friend! Stay!".
The Grandmaster seems to have a flirtatious relationship with Loki when he tells him that on any other world, he'd probably be millions of years old, but here on Sakaar... blinks slowly at Loki. Fans have pointed out that Loki is the sole person who gets to sit on the Grandmaster's couch at the arena. Tom Hiddleston in this interview thinks of it as the Grandmaster becoming Loki's sugar daddy after the latter arrives on Sakaar.
Hiddleston: In my head, Jeff Goldblum takes Loki out to Rodeo Drive and says, 'Pick the finest fabric you can find...'
Iron Woobie: Thor has really gone through a lot in this film. He already had to cope with losing his mother in the previous film and being dumped by his girlfriend. Then, he discovers that his brother was alive and impersonating his father. And just when he reunites with Odin, he learns the ugly truth of his kingdom's history and proceeds to lose both his father and his most trusted weapon before being dumped in a planet and forced to become a gladiator, and having his beloved hair cut. If that's not enough, he loses many more of his people to Hela, including the Warriors Three before having his own eye sliced off. To top it all off, he had to sacrifice Asgard, the home he had grown up in, in order to stop Hela and save the remainder of his people. Despite all that, he manages to push on. And that was merely a prelude of what's to come in Infinity War...
Of course, Loki's massive Draco in Leather Pants status is sure to bring his fans in, since it's been four years since his last on-screen appearance and everyone wants to know what he's up to this time.
Like You Would Really Do It: Many fans scoffed when the MCU called the film Ragnarok because the logic of the MCU's Shared Universe meant that Status Quo Is God. Then the film came out, and Ragnarok does actually happen. Asgard is destroyed, the Asgardian army is wiped out, established characters have died (such as the Warriors Three and Odin), and the Asgardian survivors are now refugees.note While there are obvious departures from the source material, this is in Broad Strokes accurate to the myths, as is the notion that Ragnarok is merely a cycle of beginning-end-beginning which the finale of the film conveys. This surprised many who expected Asgard to survive intact for several more films.
Money-Making Shot: The glorious slow-motion shot of Thor, trailing a thunderous streak of lightning behind him, descending upon a large swarm of Hela's undead troops as Led Zeppelin's 'Immigrant Song' starts up again.
Moral Event Horizon: Hela crossed this in-universe when she murdered Odin's guards in the past, leading to her banishment and imprisonment. For the audience, she crosses it when she murders Volstagg and Fandral without saying a word.
Hela'sBeta Outfit, which many have mocked for looking like a stereotypical goth. Doubles as Narm Charm, as many other fans don't seem to mind her look. And conversely, the absurdly elaborate headgear that Hela otherwise wears is a bit hard to take seriously.
The words "Asgard is not a place, it's a people" are intended to be Arc Words taken seriously, but the words are only said for the first time during Thor's vision while fighting Hela in the final battle, and then stated once every few minutes afterward until the end of the movie, making them seem much more silly and much less profound than they were intended to be.
The whole lead up to the Hulk reveal is played straight as a surprising revelation, but since the reveal of the Hulk was shown outright in the trailers it can get gratuitously funny to those who paid attention to the promotional material.
Thor's visions of Odin after his death may become a lot harder to take seriously when he's dressed as a rather ordinary old man. It also doesn't help the camera starts at a distance and then zooms in really quickly everytime.
The otherwise cool duel between Thor and Hela has a Fight Scene Failure moment when she blinds him. Hela drops a quip about blindness, takes her sweet time to swing back at a kneeling Thor who just stares at her with his guard down and doesn't even move... and then slices his eye, after which the wound is immediately covered in brown caked blood, as if it coagulated instantly.
While being a treat for comic book fans, Doctor Strange's iconic gloves from the comics didn't appear to translate well into real life, with many fans joking about them looking like dishwasher gloves. This appears to be given a nod as he loses them as of Avengers: Infinity War.
Newer Than They Think: Some websites have erroneously stated that Thor's short hair comes from Jason Aaron's Thor (2014) run. Thor actually sported long hair for the majority of Aaron's run, and while he did eventually get an Important Haircut, it was only a few weeks prior to the release of Ragnarok's first trailer. In fact, given Marvel's reputation for trying to enforce synergy between the comics and movies, Thor getting short hair in the comics was likely inspired by the movie, not vice versa.
Multiple news outlets have called Hela the MCU's first female supervillain, even though Nebula was a villain in Guardians of the Galaxy and Ayesha was a supporting antagonist in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which came out a few months before Ragnarok. However, Hela is the first MCU movie Big Bad to be female, as Ayesha never engages in personal combat with the heroes and largely functions as setup for Vol. 3, and Nebula in the first Guardians of the Galaxy was nothing more than The Dragon to Ronan and became an Anti-Villain in Vol. 2. And this is only counting the movies. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter, Luke Cage (2016) and The Defenders all have major female villains, with at least four (Jiaying and AIDA in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Mariah Dillard in Luke Cage, and Alexandra in The Defenders) being the central Big Bads for entire story arcs.
Some of the film's detractors have claimed that setting it in space was a blatant attempt at cashing in on the popularity of Guardians of the Galaxy. While it's likely the movie influenced Ragnarok to some degree (Taika Waititi had previously cited it as his favorite Marvel film), Thor has had heavy sci-fi elements going back to the days of Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby (hell, Thor's first appearance revolved around battling alien invaders), something that was even partially reflected in both of the prior Thor flicks.
Some critics and outlets have claimed that this was the first Thor movie with humor, forgetting that both Thor and Thor: The Dark World had a healthy dose of humor, often resulting in Memetic Mutation such as Thor smashing a cup and shouting "another", Thor hanging his hammer on a coat rack, or the Running Gag of calling Mjölnir "mew mew".
Thor and Loki having a secret sister actually goes to 2014, when Angela was revealed to be Odin's older, sword-loving daughter.
Quite often complaints against the film's comedy have cited that this kind of tone "doesn't fit" with Thor. The tone is actually pretty much how the character has been depicted many times in his history; going right back to the beginning with Kirby (where the book had the usual humour comics at the time did), the comics have regularly been tongue-in-cheek and self-deprecating to make the more Narmtastic aspects be less off-putting. As the film itself references, Thor once got turned into a frog for an adventure, and it's considered one of the most classic tales (they even referenced it in the film, as if to say "yes, theres a precedence for this"); for the most part, while he's had some serious tenures and moments, Thor is typically more comical than Iron Man and Captain America tend to be. This includes many of the "Ragnarok is upon us!" storylines that inspired much of the film's plot.
One-Scene Wonder: Doctor Strange appears in only one scene, but it's a hilarious one where he uses his magic to trap Loki in a pocket dimension and keep Thor off-balance while he's in the Sanctum Sanctorum.
"Grandthorki" for Grandmaster/Loki/Thor, further defined as a Platonic Loki & Thor forced into a Non-Consensual or Dubiously Consensual encounter by the Grandmaster.
"Valki" for Valkyrie/Loki.
Thorkyrie for Valkyrie/Thor.
Relationship Writing Fumble: Between the way she speaks of Odin (referring to the pair of them as "Odin and I" as they appear next to each other on a mural) and her resentment at him having Thor, at times Hela comes off more as Odin's former Femme Fatale mistress than his abandoned daughter.
Rooting for the Empire: Hela gets this from some of the fandom who were actually rooting for her to win and proclaim themselves to be #TeamHela, not because they believe she was in the right but purely because she's incredibly sexy and badass, not to mention one of the most powerful characters in the whole of the MCU.
Sacred Cow: Considered widely by fans to be the best Thor movie and one of the best entries in the MCU in general — some fans can get very defensive when the movie is criticised. Especially over the jokes in it.
The gladiator fight between Thor and Hulk and, in particular, Thor's Big "YES!" upon finding out that his opponent is a "friend from work."
The climactic battle on the rainbow bridge with Thor fully manifesting his lightning powers, Valkyrie reclaiming her role as an Asgardian warrior and Loki showing some smooth, slo-mo attacks as all three tear through Hela's undead soldiers. Bonus points in that the "Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin plays in the background.
The scene where Thor and Loki find Odin and where they meet Hela was reshot to take place in a field rather than in New York, and it shows.
This shot where she catches Mjölnir is clearly just photoshopped from the original footage◊.note The eyeshadow worn by Cate Blanchett in this shot is lighter and in a different position than the darker-colored makeup she wears in the rest of the scene.
All the shots where Thor, Loki, and Odin look out into the ocean are clearly just their actors looking at a greenscreen.note The main giveaway is how those shots are color corrected differently from the rest of the scene: they're brighter and filled with sunlight compared to the the generally overcast look of the scene.
The Hulk's voice is just Mark Ruffalo's regular voice pitched down a little. It wouldn't be so bad if there weren't parts in his dialogue where you can hear the obvious digital side of this effect show.
Given the cast of heroes (which includes Hulk, Valkyrie, and a bit of Doctor Strange thrown in for good measure), the team can be viewed as a more faithful adaptation of The Defenders than The Defenders (2017).note Though, Strange does not actually join Thor's team, and only has a minor role in the film.
Many people are considering this to be the closest thing we'll get to a Planet Hulk movie.
The movie also feels like an adaptation of Amalgam's "Thorion of the New Asgods."
Due to the colorful cast of heroes and villains, lighter tone, mixture of sci-fi and Swords and Sorcery, heavily '80s-inspired score and art direction, and the presence of a muscular lead who wields swords and lightning, many critics have jokingly called Ragnarok the best He-Man movie ever made.
Spoiled by the Format: Viewing the previous MCU movies as a continuous story arc leading toward Avengers: Infinity War means that all the Infinity Stones will be intact in that movie for Thanos to pursue. This makes it quite obvious that Loki steals the Tesseract when he passes it in Odin's vault, otherwise it would have been lost with Asgard's destruction.
Surprisingly Improved Sequel: While the original Thor was fine, The Dark World was considered one of the weakest films in the MCU — a poor character arc for Thor, a very bland and forgettable villain, too many annoying comic relief humans, and Jane and Loki stealing the spotlight. This film gives Thor a strong character arc, a great villain, the human element is written out and the comic relief works better because the film is intended to be a superhero comedy, Jane is Put on a Bus, and Loki, while important, doesn't steal the spotlight from the more story-critical characters.
Despite his immense talent and prestige as an actor, Odin gets Demoted to Extra in a major way, getting only two scenes (one of which is actually Loki in disguise) before he dies in a rather unexplained and anti-climactic way. In addition, he never gets to share any scenes with Hela, his own daughter, which robs us of the chance to see two of the most well-known and critically acclaimed actors in the entire MCU, if not the world, playing off one another.
The dwindling importance of The Warriors Three comes to a head here, with Fandral and Volstagg being killed mere seconds after their first appearance in the movie, and the former not even getting any dialogue before Hela kills him. Hogun fares slightly better and gets some more dialogue, but is still dead at the end of his first scene, though at least he gets to go down fighting. Despite Hela raising Asgard's fighters as undead, The Three are never seen or mentioned again wasting a potentially interesting conflict involving Thor returning home and being forced to fight his former comrades.
Some fans were hoping that with Jane out of the picture, Lady Sif might finally take on a bigger role and even become the female lead of the series. Valkyrie's well-received debut put the kibosh on that, and to add further insult to injury, Sif doesn't appear in the film at all, with Word of God saying Loki likely banished her to keep her from discovering his secret. In fairness, Marvel wanted her to come back, but Jaimie Alexander was far too busy with Blindspot.
While Hela has been received fairly well, a number of critics have argued that she doesn't get enough screentime to fully explore the more interesting aspects of her character, such as being Thor and Loki's sister. In fact, due to a large chunk of the movie taking place on Sakaar, she doesn't get all that many scenes with Thor and Loki, the latter especially given their connections in the comics and Norse Mythology.
This is also the case with Surtur the Fire Giant. The opening scene between him and Thor in Muspellheim was very well-received, with Clancy Brown using his best Luthor-voice to make a fire-demon compelling. Many felt that he should have been the main and central villain, rather than a handy plot device with which to resolve the story. Many note that in Walt Simonson's run, Surtur was indeed a far more prominent villain. Fortunately, the way the film ends keeps things open for Surtur to return, should they choose to explore him more.
The mid-credits stinger of Doctor Strange implied that the eponymous doctor would have a more critical role in the story. Instead, Strange is only involved in Thor's quest insofar as it affects Earth, and disappears from the story once he has sent Loki and Thor to Norway to find Odin. Which is disappointing for some, as Strange's magic would've been an entertaining addition to the story.
Odin dies in the first act, so he is heavily underused and the movie never really gets to explore his troubled relationship with his family, especially his daughter, who apparently wielded Mjolnir before Thor, nor the fact that he committed many atrocities that had been covered up, and that Asgard's splendor was built on plunder and conquest. In addition, we never hear Odin's side of the story, with him only saying that Hela grew too powerful to control so he banished her. Hela states that Odin, with her as his weapon, drenched the Nine Realms in blood and tears, that Asgard was built on conquest, and that one day Odin just decided to stop being a conqueror and be a protector. Was Odin really a bloodthirsty butcher who just grew tired of it all, or did he have a My God, What Have I Done? moment at some point to convince him to try a peaceful path? Or were the Nine Realms as Odin found them terrible places, leading Odin to become a Well-Intentioned Extremist who did what had to be done to bring peace, and was glad to set aside the fighting as soon as possible? We'll never know.
Not to mention, suddenly Thor and Loki have a sister they never knew and we hardly see any interactions between them.
Thor's search for the Infinity Stones comes to a halt off-screen with him only remarking that he was unable to find any at the start of the film.
The Hulk has been a beloved celebrity gladiator on Sakaar for at least two years and Korg specifically mentions that all who have faced the champion have perished (with Doug being the latest casualty). Sadly, the story never explores the Hulk's time on Sakaar nor what Banner's reaction might be to learning what he had done to achieve his celebrity status.
Ugly Cute: Miek. A purple worm-like creature in a Mini-Mecha that should look repulsive, yet many fans found him strangely adorable.
Doctor Strange is surprising in the sense that, while having magical abilities puts him more in line with what one would expect from a Thor movie, he wasn't announced to be a part of the cast from the beginning.
The Grandmaster was another major surprise due to his tenuous connection to the Thor comics.
Topaz is another example, considering that she originates in The Ultraverse line of comics which are set outside of the mainstream Marvel Universe. However, given that Malibu Comics is owned by Marvel, the company is theoretically free to use her or any other character from that setting.
No one expected Thanos's ship to appear in the mid-credits scene.
As Odin dies he informs Loki and Thor that his death will release Hela, the goddess of death, who draws her strength from Asgard and once she gets there her powers will be limitless. She appears and effortlessly destroys Mjölnir. You'd expect: that Loki (who is unlikely to stay for a Last Stand) would run away, perhaps leaving an illusion of himself next to Thor, to buy himself time, and then ask for the Bifröst to transport him once he's a good distance away. Instead: Loki calls for the Bifröst right away, picking up Loki, Thor and Hela, and giving her immediate access to Asgard.
Surtur outright tells Thor that if his crown is united with the Eternal Flame, he will reach full power and cause Ragnarok. Fortunately, Thor defeats Surtur (though Surtur does tell Thor he cannot die, and was supposedly killed before by Odin). Thor takes Surtur's crown for safe keeping. You'd Expect: Thor to keep the crown as far away from the Eternal Flame as possible. Odin's vault is hardly impregnable, and Thor is aware that the crown still has the capability to cause Ragnarok. After all, Thor: The Dark World ends with Asgard giving away an Infinity Stone because they were concerned about keeping dangerous artifacts together. Instead: Thor has the crown kept in the vault, ensuring that if anyone want to start Ragnarok, everything they need is in one convenient location. Fortunately, eventually Thor himself wants to start Ragnarok, though he had no way of knowing this when he sent the crown to the vault.
After mixed critical reaction and fan response to Thor: The Dark World, the news that the Hulk would be in the film excited many people. Likewise, those upset that the Hulk was left out of Captain America: Civil War were excited to learn they wouldn't have to wait very long to see his return. The second trailer upped people's excitement by revealing that he would speak in full sentences for the first time in the MCU.
As well, Kevin Feige has confirmed that the majority of Ragnarok takes place across the cosmos, meaning we'll finally get a Thor movie that's set primarily somewhere besides Earth.
The news that the Valkyries will be appearing excited fans who were disappointed that the previous movie completely shafted the Asgardian characters in favor of more screen time for Jane and the other humans. Sadly, these fans were disappointed when they only appear in a brief flashback, and the surviving Valkyrie not actually taking the mantle up again until the film's climax.
Like the inclusion of Black Panther in Civil War, the news that Cate Blanchett and Tessa Thompson had been cast in major roles has gone over well with fans who were critical of the general lack of diversity the MCU displayed in Phase 1 and 2.
Leaked promotional art has shown Thor finally wearing his helmet from the comics, which aside from a brief Mythology Gag in the first film, has been absent from the MCU.
The first trailer has gone over well, with many praising the level of Jack Kirby-inspired weirdness that they felt was missing from the previous two Thor films. The scenes with Hela have also gone over big.
The first trailer showed off a kickass new villain, new characters like Valkyrie and the Grandmaster, an awesome Led Zeppelin track, the Hulk, and delivered on the promise of feeling completely different from the first two movies. It went on to become Disney's most viewed trailer ever, beating out even Beauty and the Beast (2017) and The Force Awakens. That is, until Avengers: Infinity War came and one-upped that spot.
The second trailer features Thor and Hulk having a rather calm and introspective conversation. Yes, the Hulk talks! It also features Hulk taking on the Fenris wolf and Surtur, a giant being composed of fire, as well as Thor's God Mode. The last two won people over almost immediately.
Woolseyism: In the Italian dub, instead of having the Grandmaster insisting in calling Thor "lord of thunder", they have him misunderstanding and not hearing "dio" (god) but "zio" (uncle), and using that. Hearing him call Thor "uncle of thunder" as if it were an actual title gives some pleasant nonsense vibe to it, and makes Thor's irritation very understandable.
Downplayed with the announcement that Jeff Goldblum would be playing the Grandmaster. While most people don't doubt his ability to pull it off, the idea that Goldblum would have a role in the MCU at all, let alone as the Grandmaster, came out of left field for many.