Storyclock Research Log

Thor: Ragnarok

By Seth Worley

Thor: Ragnarok

This week in the Research Log, we're clocking THOR: RAGNAROK, because we're big fat Taika Waititi fans. As usual, we've watched the movie and used the Storyclock Notebook to visualize the film's structure in the form of a clock.


Let's Break It Down

  • Opening Image: Thor in a cage talking to a skeleton.
  • Normalcy: Thor returns to Asgard. Finds Loki pretending to be Odin. Classic Loki bullshit. They go looking for Odin. Find him in some Norway stock footage.
  • Normalcy Disrupted: Hella shows up. Is a badass. Destroys hammer.
  • Herald: Hella threatens to take Asgard.
  • Rational Approach: Thor and Loki try to stop Hella via action and skirmishing.
  • Break Into Act 2: Hella knocks them across the universe.
  • B Story Begins: Thor lands on the junk planet and is threatened by some scavengers. Valkyrie makes an entrance and apprehends him.
  • Trailer Moments/Promise of the Premise: Hella shows up to Asgard and proceeds to kick its ass. Thor meets Grandmaster Goldblum, much to our benefit. Grandmaster Goldblum throws Thor into the arena. Guess who he's fighting? (Spoiler Alert: Hulk)
  • Midpoint: Hella tries to get the Asgard sword but Idris Elba took it. Thor survives the Hulk fight by summoning lightning bolts, much to everyone's surprise (including maybe his own?).
  • Things Get Worse: Hella and her giant wolf start interrogating the locals.
  • Hero's Last Resort: Thor, Hulk, and Valkyrie steal a ship and break the hell out. Thor goes straight to Hella to buy them some time to save the Asgardians.
  • Game Over: Hella slashes out Thor's eye. Stabs the living shit out of him.
  • Breakthrough and Rebirth/Break Into Act 3: "I'm the Goddess of Death, what are you the god of, again?" Thor flashes to Norway stock footage for a pep talk from dad.
  • Hero Gains Upper Hand: Back to Hella's question -- "...what are you the god of?" Thor responds: "I'm the God of Led Zeppelin!" Boom! Lightning! Immigrant Song! Coolest fight sequence in a Marvel movie yet ensues.
  • Shadow's Final Push: Hella arrives to battle and starts ruining their victory vibes.
  • Ultimate Breakthrough: Thor gets an idea: let's just blow it all to hell. Send Loki to get the skull from Act 1 and initiate the Ragnarok sequence.
  • New Normalcy: Asgard isn't a place anymore. It's a group of people on a spaceship, headed to Earth. And most importantly, Thor and Loki are brothers on the same team now.
  • Final Image: Thor on a throne talking to his people.

Stuff That Stood Out To Me

  • This movie is awesome.
  • Its structure is deceptively simple, even while having roughly 9,000 characters.
  • We don't waste a lot of time between the inciting incident and the break into act 2. Hella basically shows up and says "I'm in charge now," breaks Thor's stuff, and knocks him halfway across existence, pushing him right to his main objective: get home and kick out the intruder.
  • Cate Blanchett. That's it. Just: Cate Blanchett.
  • This is the first Thor movie where Thor is the coolest person in the room. Up until this point, he's always been the big lug without brains, but now he's finally the James Bond of his own movie. Even when he's sharing the frame with Jeffmaster Goldblum.
  • Symmetrical moments: Satan Dude in the hell place talking about Ragnarok + Satan Dude in Asgard doing Ragnarok.
  • Symmetrical moments: Valkyrie's arc is textbook Symmetry. Valkyrie welcomes us to Act 2 by drunkenly flying in on her ship + Valkyrie pushes us into Act 3 by jumping onto ships and blowing them up like a ninja. Thor realizes Valkyrie is Valkyrie + Valkyrie flashback to Valkyrie being Valkyrie.
  • Symmetrical moments: Karl Urban shows off Des and Troy + Karl Urban uses Des and Troy.
  • Symmetrical moments: Hella arrives and gets rid of Thor + Thor arrives to get rid of Hella.
  • Symmetrical moments: Hulk enters the story + Banner enters the story.

So I'm gonna talk as Seth Worley here: I love this movie because it's exactly the kind of movie I'd try to make if a powerful film exec got drunk or experienced a head injury and hired me to direct a huge IP. It's bold, irreverent, takes itself the perfect amount of seriously, and pushes the material to the fringes of its world -- putting the focus on its weirdest parts and celebrating them.

I hope Taika Waititi is able to hop back and forth between the indie world and the blockbuster world on a regular basis. Because the blockbuster world needs more insanely weird and entertaining movies like THOR RAGNAROK.

Storyclock Notebook

A notebook designed for screenwriters and story nerds.

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