Marathoning Marvel For The Modern Man: Thor: Ragnarok
I used to have a system for Marvel movie premieres. I’d watch all of them, in order of release, but after a while it got exhausting. The count is now up to 17 films taking up a running time of over a day, so even if I stretched it out to one a day that still takes over two weeks. As a fan you still want to watch some Marvel films before Thor: Ragnarok comes out, right? The question then is which ones?
The first step in concocting the Thor: Ragnarok prewatch is eliminating every movie that it doesn’t share characters with and this thins the herd quite a bit. We still have Thor, Thor: The Dark World, The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron for their obvious Thor connection. Thor is joined by Hulk in this movie, so we probably should include The Incredible Hulk. Iron Man 3 has a post-credits scene featuring the Hulk, and Dr. Strange’s mid-credit scene also involve Thor and Loki.
Even though we've narrowed the field from 17 to 8, that’s still a big crop. Some of these seem like they aren’t too necessary, so let’s see if any of them can be cut.
Thor (2011) d. Kenneth Branagh
Obviously we have to watch the origin story, as it establishes the character and the world that he lives in. The character has changed a good bit since then, but it’s still fun to see his roots as a brash hero looking to pick a fight with anyone. It’s also vital to see Loki’s first break into villainy as he discovers his roots.
The Incredible Hulk (2008) d. Louis Leterrier
This is barely in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. All of its roles have been recast or ignored (except for Thunderbolt Ross played by William Hurt, who showed up again recently in Captain America: Civil War). The Hulk’s character development would be important, but it’ll be covered again for the people who missed out on this the first time.
The Avengers (2012) d. Joss Whedon
Although this is the core of the Marvel Universe, it doesn't actually seem that important to the Thor dynamic. Thor and Loki’s relationship is a huge piece of the movie, but it doesn’t add much to their story. They have very little contact between the two of them, spending most the time talking to the rest of the team. This is a big film for Hulk, altough the majority of his growth happens in Age of Ultron.
Thor: The Dark World (2013) d. Alan Taylor
Much like the first Thor movie, especially because it sets up Loki for where he is at the beginning of Ragnarok. It also starts to expand the universe a bit farther past Ice Giants and Asgard, although not too far. It also has some decent action pieces, which isn’t something you can say for the first Thor.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) d. Joss Whedon
This is one of the more important movies to catch on your rewatch. It gives you all of the Hulk character development you need, ending with him in a Quinjet headed for a self-imposed isolation. It also features Thor having apocalyptic visions and leaving to track down their cause. If you only have time for one movie before catching Ragnarok, make it this one.
Iron Man 3 (2013) d. Shane Black
This can be ignored, seeing as Banner is mainly just a part of the framing device. If you really want to see the post-credits scene, you can find it on YouTube without having to watch a whole story that isn’t even related.
Doctor Strange (2016) d. Scott Derrickson
The credits scene here is a little more related, but again it can be separated from the movie. It also seems to take place during Ragnarok, and could be seen as a minor spoiler, so you might want to skip it.
So we have our watchlist now:
THOR: THE DARK WORLD
AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
If you have extra time on your hands, there’s plenty you could add. Even beyond what I’ve mentioned, you might want to watch all of Doctor Strange, since the character has been confirmed to cameo in Ragnarok. The Guardians of the Galaxy universe will likely tie into Ragnarok as well, especially since the Grandmaster is the Collector’s brother. Me though? I’ll stick to my short list. They’ll be easy to fit into one night, and will remind me of all I need to know before going into Ragnarok.