Thor: Ragnarok Sparks Comparison to Benefits, Perils of MBA Exchange Program
Taking advantage of the international exchange programs, MBA students have traveled extensively, running the gamut of South Africa, England, Singapore, and. . .Asgard?! Well, not exactly.
While the home of Thor, the god of thunder, as showcased in Marvel’s latest flick Thor: Ragnarok is no hot ticket destination for MBA boys, the film at-large may serve as an extension to the experiences of some students, specifically those who went to Australia and New Zealand.
The movie sports a cast headlined by Aussie and Kiwi actors—notably protagonist Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and antagonists Cate Blanchett (Hela) and Karl Urban (Skurge). Moreover, Taika Waititi, a New Zealander, enters the fray as the director for Thor: Ragnarok in what was his first stint for Marvel Studios.
The actors and director’s hailing from “down under,” however, is not simply token; rather, the film incorporates a healthy dose of Aussie and Kiwi humor, several references—both direct and indirect—to other Waititi films, a show-stealing performance by Waititi himself, and of course, the iconic accents. In fact, the film excels in light of these influences.
Senior Carter Smith participated in an international exchange to New Zealand this past summer. Discussing how his travels allowed him to appreciate Thor: Ragnarok’s nuances, he shared, “When Ben Evans and I were over in New Zealand, we were introduced to a couple Kiwi and Australian shows that we really enjoyed; so, seeing some their humor in a big blockbuster like Thor was awesome. I thought it was great addition to the movie!”
For Marvel diehards, however, the Aussie and Kiwi flavor did not come as a pleasant surprise upon initial screenings of the movie; no, it was a selling point. At Comic-Con 2017, Waititi made frequent jokes, badgering his Aussie cast about their relatively harsher accents: “It’s just the accent—it’s like being drilled in the side of the head, all day long. . .like a glass bottle full of nails just shaking in your ears all day.”
Karl Urban took one out of Waititi’s book, citing how he almost did not make the set of Thor: Ragnarok: “When I came into Australia the customs officer asked me if I had a criminal record, and I said, ‘Aw mate, I didn’t know I still needed one to get in.’”
The on-and-off-screen banter between the cast and crew makes this Thor film feel fresh. This so-called rejuvenation is particularly important for a subsidiary franchise of Marvel’s that has been marred by mediocrity and staleness. Thor and Thor: The Dark World, the first and second films in the series respectively, are two of Marvel’s most poorly rated films to date.
Consequently, Kevin Feige’s hiring of a new and spunky director in Waititi served as the catalyst necessary to bring the spark back to the franchise. And speaking of Waititi, his aforementioned role in the film was a smashing success.
Waititi plays a character named Korg, an alien made of rocks. Carter Smith held high praise for the character and shared of his many laughs: “Every single one of Korg’s lines were hilarious. I don’t think there was a single scene he was in where the entire theater wasn’t dying laughing. His [Kiwi] accent makes the character, and I never thought I’d laugh so hard at a rock, paper, scissors joke.”
Carter affirmed that while his experiences abroad accentuated his watching of Thor: Ragnarok, the film is easily accessible to all audiences.
Senior Jack Sullivan, who traveled to France this past summer, is proof of that sentiment: “I liked the reality of Ragnarok. Taking after the precedent of the most recent Star Wars film by using minimal special effects and creating real sets, puppets, and costumes, Ragnarok paid a lot of attention to detail. Visually it was fabulous, with tons of color and excitement in even the smallest details, like a wall that Waititi pulled from a pattern in a Jack Kirby comic.”
Jack continued, “There was also an enjoyable story and character to the film unlike previous Thor movies. . .It focused on what works: comedy and action.”
Having seen another Waititi film in Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Jack was able to appreciate the films subtitles in a different light. He noted, “[Thor: Ragnarok] reminded me of Hunt for the Wilderpeople because they both had a sort of crusade or journey oriented plot. Thor is trying to get back to Asgard to prevent Ragnarok, the apocalyptic destruction of his homeward, and the protagonist from Hunt for the Wilderpeople is trying to evade authorities to avoid life in a state-funded foster child unit.”
Jack further connected the dots: “In Hunt for the Wilderpeople, the search and the authority figures get blown out of proportion as they start a nationwide manhunt to find just one kid. . .Waititi loves randomness and absurdity in his films, and he [likewise] does a great job of incorporating those elements into [Thor: Ragnarok].”
While Jack concurred with Carter about the film’s jovial humor, he criticized Jeff Goldblum’s character: “The Grandmaster felt far too forced of a joke. Most of Waititi’s jokes feel like it’s an inside joke that you’re in on, but the Grandmaster wasn’t the same.”
Jack also found Hela, the villain, to be lackluster: “It felt like she just came out of nowhere and had no real reason to wreak havoc.”
Yet, criticism was scarce between the pair of seniors. Both agreed that the humor, visuals, and action sequences are well worth the price of admission, and as previously stated, Carter emphasized that MBA students with experiences “down under” will find hidden gems throughout the film.