According to Norse mythology, Ragnarok was the end of days. Fortunately, Norse mythology also has Thor. Aside from Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth just might be the best-cast character of the whole Avengers lot. He’s handsome, masculine, humorous, and gives Thor an arrogance that is surprisingly endearing and admirable. Fitting that the god of thunder is tasked with saving the universe from Ragnarok.

Moving toward the epic Infinity War narrative, we find ourselves following Thor’s journeys via the Bifrost throughout the extraterrestrial realms from Asgaard, to the Norse equivalent of hell, and a strange trash planet run by a perfectly cast oddball named The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) where time and space seem to defy all laws of nature. As Ragnarok approaches, the goddess of death, Hela (Cate Blanchett) has returned to Asgaard to reclaim her rightful place on the throne, and Thor must enlist the help of his faithful friends (not those ones) to defeat her. Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Heimdall (Idris Elba), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and newcomer Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) band together to form Avengers-lite, but it works

Hulk and Thor were noticeably missing from the “Captain America: Civil War” story in 2016, and this film explains their absence. The change in venue on the heels of “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2” and “Doctor Strange” sets the table for next spring’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” which will surely and easily become the highest grossing film of all time (until “Avatar 2” comes out).

With a rumored budget of nearly a billion dollars for the film and its sequel, it’s a massive risk with even greater reward potential. The Marvel Comics extended universe (MCEU) has moved to outer space and other dimensions, and the strong characters established on Earth are now doing epic battles in a rich and appetizing visual-effects setting. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; Kevin Feige is brilliantly running Marvel Studios.

Sadly, the greatest superhero sidekick in the Marvel universe dies just minutes into the film. Mjolnir, Thor’s mystical hammer made from the magical metal from a dying star (or something like that), is crushed like a bug, leaving me feeling a bit sad and nostalgic. Thor is left with nothing but his chiseled physique and ruggedly handsome good looks, but, like Spider-Man and his suit earlier this year, Thor learns that his true power is not due to his accessories, but instead come from within. He is a god after all.

Director Taika Waititi was an odd choice because of his lack of big-budget experience, but he does a fantastic job, particularly with the pacing. The film is long at more than two hours, but moves quickly through upbeat music, several visually satiating fight scenes, and some very clever and humorous dialogue. The tone is definitely lighter than some of the other Marvel films, which seems to be one of two deliberately established directions. I would imagine that the next film in line, “Black Panther,” will offer a more serious approach, the serious yin to the comedic yang if you will.

“Thor: Ragnarok” has massive appeal for several reasons, the least of which is that it’s Marvel. It is very funny. Perhaps the funniest of the films yet, but that notion doesn’t diminish the value of the action one bit. Hemsworth is fantastic as usual, but he seems to embrace and master his character in a way that has been missing from his previous appearances; he is tremendous. Then, there’s the Hulk. A fan favorite for certain, he is showcased in all his green glory, even being given consistently hilarious one-liners throughout.

It’s been a few weeks (months?) since there has been a family-friendly action film that I would highly recommend to the masses, but it’s finally arrived. By Odin’s beard, you should definitely see “Thor: Ragnarok.”