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So, first up, let's get this out of the way. It's got problems as a film, but this isn't a bad movie. The visuals are great, especially the wonderful action setpieces where slow-motion and excellent cinematography combine to make the screen look like the best possible combination of a Scandinavian tapestry and an energetic Jack Kirby panel. The score is fantastic, both the licensed and original tracks doing a great job of adding to the mood. The overall plot, in broad strokes, is quite good. And while the comedy isn't really well-timed, it's at least pretty funny. There's a lot about this movie I quite genuinely loved.
Unfortunately, and this is the crux of the problem for me, it's also the culmination of Marvel Studio's persistent and pervasive mismanagement of the Thor property: writing off his branch of the franchise altogether and retooling it into something a bit more in-line with a popular flavor of the month. Marvel has never known what to do with the character, but that's probably a rant better-served in reviews of its prior films. And it all comes to the forefront here.
From every single member of Thor's supporting cast who isn't a popular and marketable character being killed off with little-to-no ceremony, clumsily written out in a throwaway line, or just not even showing up at all, to massive, ungainly retcons that actively work to undermine the majesty and nobility of Asgard, to constant use of humor to slay any hint of horror, tension, or drama in the unfolding situation, this film wears its absolute, sneering contempt for every previous Thor film on its sleeve. Worse, it turns Thor into a silly, meat-headed buffoon to do it. When Winter Soldier reinvented Captain America, it focused on keeping the core of his character intact and showing how his nobility anchored he and the good people on his side even as the status quo collapsed around them. This film doesn't see fit to pay Thor the same courtesy.
And, of course, the pervasive humor actively undermines all the drama it can, because what kind of loser liked the Shakespearean high themes previous films sometimes had? Worse, in its haste to rip the guts out of the other films' mythology, it fails to properly take advantage of its own retcons. Hela may have more personality than the average Generic Doomsday Villain, but any attempt at exploring her relationship to her family, or what the revelations she causes meant for the past, are carelessly tossed aside in favor of just pilling more silly jokes into what could be meaningful scenes.
I won't pretend the other films in the franchise weren't flawed. They were, heavily. But this isn't cleaning and polishing away those flaws. This is discarding the gem entirely because of them. And, again, it's not a bad movie. It's entertaining. But it's also the end of the movies I liked, and I don't think it's ending them for the right reasons.
...Also, now that we\'ve gotten this meh-at-best version of Planet Hulk, we\'ll never get a better one than the animated film that I already thought could\'ve used some work. Bleh.
This kind of a tangent, but it\'s something that\'s really bugged me: Winter Soldier did not reinvent Captain America. Nothing he did in that movie was different from the character would have acted at any other point. His circumstances and role in the world change, but the core of the character remains completely static. Put the Cap from First Avenger in that situation and he would do the exact same things. Cap was always the person who would do the right thing regardless of what his superiors told him. That was demonstrated in his very first mission when he violated orders and went to go save the people imprisoned by HYDRA. Captain America did not change, it was your perspective of him that changed.
That\'s my point. It didn\'t reinvent Captain America the man, just Captain America the media franchise.
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