Critics are already calling Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok an action-packed, humor-filled, Flash Gordon-esque romp. The previews promised a realization of the bromance fans have been anticipating ever since Hulk punched the God of Thunder off-screen in The Avengers (2012) and this movie did not disappoint! The much-anticipated fifth film of Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Three is already being lauded as the best of the Thor trilogy and one of the funniest Marvel movies of all time.
That’s not to say it’s all fun and games. This Thor film is a little different, but that’s because Thor himself is further along in his character arc. Far from being the warmongering god of hubris of the first film, Thor has finally come into his own. That’s not to say he doesn’t have a few lessons to learn. As Thor says to Loki at one point in the film, “Life is about growth and change.” So in the spirit of that particular sentiment (and because I think any good story has a few lessons to teach), I thought I’d point out a few SPOILER-FILLED lessons I learned from the film itself.
Seriously. Stop reading if you hate SPOILERS. These lessons will be waiting for you when you finally watch the movie.
For those of you who are still here, I present to you (in no particular order), 5 Spoiler-Filled Lessons I Learned from Thor: Ragnarok.
Put people first.
One of the easiest lessons to spot from Thor: Ragnarok is that people are more important than, well, anything else. Odin first tells Thor, “Asgard is not a place, it’s a people.” It’s this revelation that finally allows Thor to take the throne and save his people, even after Hela reveals the truth of his father’s legacy. Hela and Thor stand in stark contrast. Hela is so obsessed with conquering new worlds and bending Asgard to her will that she is willing to slay her best warriors and hunt down its citizenry. Thor is willing to set the world aflame if it means his people will live. The kind of growth that leads to success is focused on people not success for its own sake.
Admit your mistakes and shortcomings.
One of the things that Thor discovers in this film is that his father’s legacy was a well-painted lie over a darker truth. Both Thor (2011) and Thor: The Dark World (2013) showed that there is still a lot of bitterness toward Asgard due to Odin’s past, but the return of Hela the goddess of death finally uncovers the grim foundation upon which his kingdom was built. At some point, Odin realized that he didn’t want to be remembered as a conqueror so he repainted himself as a peaceful protector of the realms and erased all memory of his past, including his own daughter’s existence. As a result, Asgard is completely unprepared for the return of the goddess of death. If Odin had chosen to admit the truth, rather than glossing it over, Thor and Asgard would have been better prepared for Hela’s return.
Get out of your comfort zone.
Sometimes the thing that you think makes you brilliant is holding you back. What is Thor without Mjolnir? Well, as it turns out, he’s much more than the “god of hammers.” According to Odin, Thor’s trademark weapon was only supposed to help him focus his ability. Instead, he became a little too comfortable with Mjolnir. Or perhaps complacent. His reliance on the hammer was keeping him from reaching his full potential. The destruction of Mjolnir turns out to be a blessing in disguise. Sometimes the training wheels just need to come off.
Do the right thing.
“That’s what heroes do!” Thor says this line throughout most of the film but it is Skurge and Banner who personify it. Banner has been the Hulk for two years since the Battle of Sokovia. He knows that if he becomes the Hulk again, Banner might never re-emerge. Despite the risks, he joins the fight for Asgard as the Hulk. Similarly, Skurge the Executioner overcomes his own skulking cowardice to defend his people with Des and Troy, recreating an iconic comic book panel in the process. A hero does the right thing even when it might cost them everything.
See the potential in those around you.
Hulk thinks he doesn’t need anyone else. Not even Banner. He fights alone. Loki is the ultimate self-serving loner. Valkyrie is literally the last of an elite Asgardian female-only fighting force and has drowned all memory of her kingdom and her oaths in a bottle. A lot of bottles actually. Thor reminds each and every one of the “Revengers” that they aren’t alone and weren’t meant to be. He reminds Valkyrie of what her tattoos mean. He convinces a belligerent Hulk that being alone just kind of sucks. He even manages to convince Loki to fight by his side, though he doesn’t realize he’s succeeded in that at first. That’s because Thor sees the potential in each and every one of his comrades despite all of their obvious flaws.
Without really meaning to, I learned that the kind of desirable growth described in Thor: Ragnarok is marked by honesty, a commitment to doing the right thing, and a willingness to aspire beyond one’s comfort zone. Rather than being focused on success for its own sake, it calls us remember that people matter most and that we should see the potential in everyone because we weren’t meant to go it alone. At least, that was my takeaway.
What lessons did you learn?