Can I ask you something, dear reader? Do you think the concept of the Incredible Hulk sitting in a hot tub is truly hilarious? Do you think jokes about the Shake Weight are still funny today? Would watching Thor (the eternally handsome Chris Hemsworth) get electrocuted amuse you? I’ll give you that one. There’s something funny about the God of Thunder wearing a shock collar, but the original joke loses its impact around the sixth time he’s reduced to convulsing on the floor. Don’t get me wrong, hilarious moments in “Thor: Ragnarok” exist. The latest entry in the Marvel Studios mega-franchise has been billing itself as the “funny” Marvel movie, and it doesn’t hesitate to make the “comedy” apparent. Before the title card is even shown, “Ragnarok” shoves a handful of “jokes” down the viewers’ throats. Yes, like its predecessors “Ant-Man,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Deadpool,” this superhero movie leans heavily on “humor.” 

Don’t be dismayed by the scare quotes — I can recognize a comedy when I see one, but is that really what “Ragnarok” has going for it? One might expect that Taika Waititi, director of the quirky vampire mockumentary “What We Do in the Shadows,” might not be up to the task of injecting his signature awkward humor between blockbuster action scenes, but the action in “Ragnarok” works far better than any of the jokes sprinkled generously throughout the screenplay. There are notably funny moments; the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum, basically playing himself) referring to Thor’s home of Asgard as “A**-Place” hardly qualifies as high concept, but the bit earns a hearty laugh. For each of these truly funny moments, however, a dozen formulaic jokes or predictable slapstick moments fizzle out. “Ragnarok” seizes every possible opportunity to make a joke, and it does so without any regard for letting the screenplay breathe. 

Perhaps I’m jaded by Hollywood’s overabundance of superhero movies, but nothing about “Ragnarok” feels particularly exciting. At the beginning of the movie, Thor returns from a quest to find his father Odin (an underused Anthony Hopkins) at the end of his life’s journey. Unfortunately, his death summons Hela (Cate Blanchett), Thor’s long-lost sister and the Goddess of Death. Hela proves to be much more powerful than both Thor and his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and she transports them to a distant planet, Sakaar, after destroying Thor’s mighty hammer Mjolnir, effectively stripping him of a large chunk of his superhuman abilities. The planet of Sakaar is a giant dump where every wormhole in the universe spits out unlucky travellers. The Grandmaster runs Sakaar’s quasi-government, where the inhabitants look like they’ve been costumed by Derek Zoolander. Thor gets arrested and, for the purpose of plot expediency, the Grandmaster places him in a gladiator-style match against The Incredible Hulk — the mutated, green giant version of Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). The two team up with Loki and a cocky scavenger named Valkyrie (Tess Thompson) to get back to Asgard and stop Hela from destroying the whole realm. It’s what you’d expect from a superhero movie: the conventionally attractive protagonists all must learn to put aside their differences and work together to defeat a common foe. I’ll let you guess if they’re successful or not.

Other than the preponderance of jokes in “Ragnarok,” the movie is dripping with color, using it perhaps more vibrantly than any other Marvel movie in years. The set pieces and special effects are all gorgeously detailed and solidly executed, which is par for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Despite how breathtaking Sakaar might look, I can’t help but feel like the planet is empty. There are thousands of spectators in the arena crowds, but it doesn’t seem like anybody lives in the city. Fight scenes are satisfyingly over-the-top, which is always welcome. Hela’s arrival reveals Asgard’s dark past, her sinister presence constantly reminding viewers how twisted the movie could have been were it played straight and not for laughs. Thompson’s swaggery Valkyrie was well done, but when her sentimental side shows, her performance loses focus. As enthusiastic as he seems to be about slapstick and cheap one-liners, Waititi seems to be hesitant to dwell on anything sentimental. Odin’s death lasts for only a few seconds and a fistful of shots. What should be an emotionally potent moment for both Thor and Loki instead quickly jumps into a fight scene with Hela. 

The cameos, boring music and post-credits scenes are everything you’d expect from a Marvel Studios movie, but the aggressive humor and brilliant color palette at the very least help “Ragnarok” stand out. I wanted to root for the movie, hoping Waititi’s hand would tip the industry back into the “comic” realm of “comic book” movies. Instead, what Marvel Studios delivered is something that feels familiar, using comedy as a tool that has ultimately been wielded before in better movies. Are superhero movies doomed to continue to be hollow shells of archetypes and action, encouraged by big-budget studio executives? Will we ever see another director push the limits of what the genre could achieve, like Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”? Or a director who can make a genuinely entertaining, emotionally mature movie like Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2”? Or will the industry continue to pump out movies saturated with fan-service and only concerned with the studio’s bottom line?

Probably the last option.