It’sone thing to cast Robert Redford or Michael Keaton as unorthodox villains in superhero films—veterans playing against type, a bit of capital-A acting in with all the Chrises and women just collecting paycheques. It’s quite another to make the Big Bad Cate Blanchett, who is more awesome—in real-life talent and here in Thor: Ragnarok— than all of The Avengers put together (with awesome to spare). It’s the kind of casting that makes you root against the good guys.
Blanchett’s Hela is the secret sister of Thor (Chris Hemsworth, in full-on Ghostbusters mode) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston, look what you made me do), whom Odin (Anthony Hopkins) has kept hidden because she’s so evil she makes Loki look like Dennis the Menace. She set to unleash her rage on Asgard, but Thor’s busy being forced to fight the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) by Jeff Goldblum.
The Thors are easily the best superhero product on the market, because they’re funny (imagine!). There’s the usual family portent and shoehorned love story ( Creed’s Tessa Thompson has a terrific turn as a drunk warrior), but these films move with such lightness and wit that their cookie-cutter fight scenes are just bridges to the jokes. The New Zealand director Taika Waititi delivers on zero of the marketing campaign’s neon aesthetic—
Ragnarok is standard-looking—but boosts what should, by now, be a sagging franchise through old-fashioned comic timing.
And then there’s Blanchett, looking like a goth Maleficent in her form-fitting catsuit slashed with nuclear green, busting Thor’s hammer into chunks, having delicious fun. Now we need more: Thor’s had a good run, let’s get Hela lit.