reviewed by Tom-Tom
Thor is the perhaps the oddest of the Avengers. He is, for all intents and purposes, a god of Norse mythology. He actually sports a red beard and hair in the old tales but in the Marvel Comics, he suddenly became blond and wore a winged helmet and red cape. I was rather taken Norse mythology as a middle school student. I thought it was cool how they were mortal and didn’t spend all their time screwing around with humans figuratively and literally the way Papa Zeus seemed to do all the time in Greek-Roman Mythology. No, they were constantly kicking the crap out of each other. The idea of the world tree, Norns, and having Nine Realms on an Astral Scale seemed like proto-Sci-Fi from long ago. Marvel also has a Hercules and an Aries so we’ll have to see how they eventually fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) but for the time being, we have Thor (Chris Hemsworth), all prefabricated into a hero from the start of his origin movie. Kenneth Branagh is directing and his frequent collaborator Patrick Doyle provides a beautiful score quite suited to the heavenly realms shown here.
Thor may have heroic tendencies and powers but he is not yet of the heroic caliber. He’s arrogant, short-tempered, overconfident, and rather short-sighted. While his friends Sif and the Warriors Three usually have better sense than Thor, they seem to cave in at whatever he suggests they do, even if it involves heading to another Realm armed for a fight. Thor’s brother Loki, (Tom Hiddleston)though the seemingly quiet one in the group, has a greater power still. His silver tongue easily manipulates Thor into taking just the right steps to achieve what Loki himself wants. The casting of Tom Hiddleston is one the greatest and most important achievements in the entire MCU. We have Branagh to thank for that.
Back to our story, angered by Thor’s childish actions, Odin, the Allfather, current King of Asgard strips Thor of his powers and hammer Mjolnir and sends him to New Mexico, USA. The Allfather sends Mjolnir along too after casting a sort of Excalibur-like spell on it claiming that only the worthy shall wield it and inherit the power of Thor. Here he meets astrophysicist Dr. Jane Foster, her intern Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) , and fellow scientist Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard). They have been calculating readings from the heavens and are developing theorems for the interdimensional events which occur when the heavens act as they currently do. Thor is easily tasered and rendered unconscious by the intern while Dr. Foster goes crazy over the findings. Thor’s time in hospital is rather amusing as he realizes the extent of his new mortality. Yep, he gets hit by cars a couple times. Definitely gonna feel that in the morning.
J. Michael Straczynski and Stan Lee have cameos as the local rabble herd to where Thor’s hammer has fallen. Fueled by Budweisers and pick-up trucks, everyone has a try at picking it up eventually latching on towlines. No dice. S.H.I.E.L.D. finds it thanks to Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), but we already knew that after the Iron Man 2 post-credit Easter Egg, didn’t we?
Meanwhile, in Asgard, Loki learns something about his actual origins to his horror and to Odin’s detriment. We can’t help but feel for the trickster after having seen the Allfather’s wrath at Thor. This sets events in motion that will see Foster’s research confiscated and Loki installed as the ruler of Asgard.
Much of the fun of this film comes from the Stranger in a Strange Land aspect of Thor getting used to Earth and its limitations as well as the continuous line of teen-speak from Darcy the Intern. Thor’s Warrior Prince mannerisms funnily clash with 21st Century. His chemistry with Natalie Portman’s girlishly ambitious Dr. Foster is quite charming especially when she speaks in science and he in myth about the same things. It was a challenging task to give us a hero, take everything away from him, and then have him earn the right to be a hero again. It’s an enjoyable journey and one with quite an emotional payoff. The 2nd and 3rd Acts far outweigh the rather weak 1st one to make Thor a satisfying albeit imperfect film.