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Ragnarok : Climate Change and Thor!

Ragnarok is a fly on the wall type of idea. It derives its origin from the Norse mythology hero ie.”Thor”, but “Thor is also Marvel owned”. But this TV show in Norway builds its own legend and world which is truly independent of the Stan Lee creation. “Ragnarok” can be the first ever popular culture content piece which puts the fight against climate change at the center of its narrative!

“Ragnarok” is a Norwegian term which means “The battle between Gods and Giants which decides the fate of the planet of Asgard” in Norse mythology.

So how does this translate into modern day and climate change? The writer Adam Price has quite skillfully managed to imbibe the characters of the Thor universe with unmatched subtlety. He also tries to bring the ethos of “Good” Vs “Evil” in a highly innovative fashion. By adding the fact that the real evil is the effects of climate change caused by the villains of the present times.

“Ragnarok” is now streaming on Netflix in India. It has a total of 6 episodes.

What is this show all about?

“Ragnarok” takes place in the small town of Edda in Norway which has a beautiful landscape. Here the protagonist Magne comes to the town with his brother Laurits and his mother to settle. As he goes through school, he discovers his powers which are supernatural. He befriends Isolde, a climate change activist and fellow student who believes that her mother was killed by cancer which was caused by some effect of climate change. In addition, Magne and Laurits also interact with the Jutul family which comprise Vidar (the patriarch) , his wife Ran and children Fjor and Saxa. The Jutuls are also very powerful and pretty much control the entire economy of Edda and other large businesses in Norway. They also are supernatural beings known as “Giants”, who as per Norse culture are beings who live for centuries and are rivals of “Gods”, the true self of Magne.

As the turn of events move, Isolde gets killed while paragliding into electric wires, this happens after she finds out that 3000 drums of a very lethal chemical is poisoning the water of Edda. As this event sets the fate of Magne and his family, he encounters the Jutuls to fight for justice. In the meanwhile, Edda faces major temperature drops and abnormal weather conditions due to harmful emissions by big companies like the one which is owned by the Jutuls.

The “climate change” angle to a superhero universe!

“Ragnarok” takes pride in imbibing the pertinent socio-political reality of today. Although it derives most of its lead characters from the Norse mythology and the world of “giants” and “gods”, it fights the issue of climate change and its effects on humans in exhaustive detail. Why would someone do this?

Norway as a country is deeply conscious about the cause of education and climate change. Its government has set a vision for a ‘carbon free’ Norway by 2050. The parliament in the country has passed a resolution by which they are divesting their equity and interests in traditional energy companies which operate in the oil and gas sector. Although it’s still not very aggressive on these goals, this very issue is at the heart of Norway’s future policies. The fact that “Thor”and other titular superheroes like Loki essentially come from Norse history, ‘Ragnarok’ plays to its origin and at the same time builds a unique narrative for the Netflix generation. I don’t think there is any other superhero show which tackles such a ‘real’ issue as of today.

The Content and its treatment

“Ragnarok” can be a deeply political show at some level. It shows that like in mythology and culture, the class struggle is quite relevant and real. Magne and Laurits live a very basic life and have to debate with their mother about their daily needs. On the other hand, the Jutul family feasts on expensive meats, live in mansions, have a stronghold over politicians and have ‘discerning’ hobbies. In one of the debates in the school, Saxa expresses an opinion that climate change is not that bad, she claims that one should look at the case of ‘cars’, the fact that they cause a number of people to die in accidents. However, people still use cars as they help people to be mobile. In one of the scenes, Vidar Jutul tells his gorgeous wife Ran (who is also the school owner where Magne studies) that nowadays “women are equal” and that he has to ask her for basic things.

But on the superhero quotient, one sees very limited scenes where Magne uses his powers as the “God Of Thunder”. The show has been written to create more seasons in the future. The next season will focus a lot on the superhero powers and duels like Marvel movies. There is also a small hint that Laurits might be “Loki” in the future. However, the fact the main characters are teenagers, “Ragnarok” is more of a “Twilight” than “Thor”.

The writer Adam Price and his team introduce each episode with a term from “Norse” culture and explains its relevance to the viewer.

Performances The cast includes top rate Norwegian actors including Jonas Strand Gruvli who appeared in Paul Greengrass’ epic “22 July”. David Staktson who plays Magne also does a super job. He looks every bit “Thor”. I was particularly impressed by the gorgeous and deliciously devilish Ran Jutul played by Synnovy Lund.

Final Verdict

“Ragnarok” is a novel attempt at telling superhero stories with a dash of realism! I would give this show a 7 out of 10


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