In Photos

In photos: ‘Thor: Ragnarok’, probably the most fun Thor movie till date

Director Taiki Waititi has brought his indie comedic sensibilities to ‘Thor: Ragnarok’, and critics are loving the results.

It began with Iron Man in 2008, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe has since released 16 films. Its 17th and latest film Thor: Ragnarok is set to hit theatres in India on November 3. Thor: Ragnarok is the third film featuring the crown prince of Asgard, Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Joining him is Bruce Banner or the Hulk, (Mark Ruffalo) who has not had a solo film yet within the ongoing MCU franchise. Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba and Anthony Hopkins reprise their roles as Loki, Heimdall and Odin from the previous installments while Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum have joined the cast to play prominent roles.

Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.
Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.

Thor: Ragnarok’s story begins two years after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). Thor and Loki face their sister, the all-powerful queen of death Hela (Cate Blanchett). Hela takes over Asgard and banishes Thor and Loki into outer space. Thor ends up on the planet Sakaar, where he runs into the Hulk.

Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.
Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.

One of the biggest draws of Thor: Ragnarok is that for the first time, a MCU film has a female villain. Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett plays Hela, the goddess of Death. Donning an all-black ensemble, with heavy eyeliner to goth it up a notch, Blanchett as Hela gets to throw force field bombs at Thor and even destroys his powerful hammer, Mjolnir. Speaking about her character’s motivation, Blanchett told Collider, “She’s been banished for a very long time and if you were locked under the Asgardian stairs for 5,000 years, you’d be a little bit cross.”

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Thor: Ragnarok (2017).

According to critics, Thor: Ragnarok has turned out to be of the best MCU films till date. It is currently holding a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi, who has made acclaimed offbeat comedies such as Boy (2010), What We Do in the Shadows (2014) and Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016), has made its big-budget Hollywood debut with Thor: Ragnarok.

Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.
Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.

To land the job, Waititi presented Marvel Studios with a showreel featuring clips from various films, including John Carpenter’s fantasy action-comedy Big Trouble in Little China (1986) edited to Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song to put across his vision for the third Thor film. His ideas impressed Marvel bosses so much that Thor: Ragnarok’s first teaser was cut to Immigrant Song, and the track also features twice in the movie.

Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.
Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.

So far, the Avengers films with their ensemble casts featured group dynamics among a bunch of superheroes and super-villains. For the first time, two marquee superheroes from the Marvel stable, Thor and the Hulk, have been brought together in a buddy movie set-up. The trailers reveal a lighter, comedic take on the Thor series – a departure from the action-adventure tone of the Avengers films. Ahead of the release, Waititi told Polygon that Thor: Ragnarok is “the most different Marvel movie to date”.

Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.
Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.

The events of Thor: Ragnarok occur alongside the events of Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) and Captain America: Civil War (2016). The three stories pave the way for the MCU juggernaut Avengers: Infinity War. Scheduled to be released in 2019, the movie brings together all the Avengers, including Spider-Man, plus characters from the Guardians of the Galaxy films, Ant-Man (2015), Doctor Strange (2016) and the yet-to-be-released Black Panther (2018).

Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.
Thor: Ragnarok. Image credit: Marvel Studios.

In addition to the star-studded cast, a bunch of top names have cameos in Thor: Ragnarok. There is the obligatory cameo by Stan Lee, the creator of most of Marvel’s properties. In a comic sequence, in which Asgardians perform a play based on the events of Thor: The Dark World (2013), the younger Hemsworth brother, Luke, plays Thor while Matt Damon plays Loki. In the midst of so many actors and actresses, Jeff Goldblum’s hammy turn as Grandmaster, the ruler of the planet Sakaar described by producer Brad Winderbaum as the “toilet of the universe”, has been praised by critics. Goldblum was given complete leeway by Waititi to improvise his character, and among the scenes that did not make it to the final film is one in which Goldblum’s character sings the Sakaarian national anthem that was made up on the spot.

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Thor: Ragnarok: deleted scenes.
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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.