Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

I’m glad to see that Marvel is (mostly) coming through on their promises, regarding the whole Avengers movie shenanigans. I really want to see it happen and I want to see it done well. I’m excited/cautious about a Thor movie, actually. It’s a tough movie to cast, to visualize, to pull off… The way I see it, the movie could go two ways. The one is this- total surrealism. I’m a huge fan of Walt Simonson. He always seems, to me, one of those writers that is rarely given enough credit. Both a writer and an artist, to me, this kind of defined the Marvel universe of the 1980s. It was busy, dark, Saturday-morning-cartoony, intertwined, and beautiful all at once. Thor was of course his claim to fame- and you can pick his run up in reprint, if you’d like. I’ll never forget this depiction of Asgard- big, floating islands in space, bridges made of rainbows, monstrous frost giants, viking ships that sailed through space without wind, an underworld populated with hordes of undead norse warriors serving Hela and even the god of death…it was like someone ate an issue of the Care Bears and an issue of Conan the Barbarian and threw up. But I’ll always remember it as one of my favorite runs on any Marvel comic. I loved his depiction of the Asgardians. It made sense, to me. Maybe they were an alien race that had colonized Earth and become culturally intertwined with the human race. On the other hand, maybe they really were magical, Norse Gods, brought into existence before the human race was ever created. Either way, the Asgardians themselves didn’t even really seem to understand. But NOW- they were more alien than God. They lived in the stars and had truck with other space-travelling races of the Marvel U. It was weird- but it worked. And that was it, really- Simonson put the focus ON Asgard. Thor as a superhero just doesn’t do it for me. That is not to say that I don’t find his interaction with the Avengers interesting- it makes sense. A bunch of the most powerful people in the Marvel Universe, they usually go up against cosmic kinds of threats….but Thor flying around stopping bank robberies? Please. I loved the richness of the cast- Donald Blake and Jane Foster never really held my interest. But Sif, Balder, Odin, Skurge and Amora (The Executioner and the Enchantress)…actually, Skurge has an epic, and I mean EPIC death scene in Simonson’s run. It didn’t take- I mean, what comic book death does, right?- but it was so fricking awesome. Finally rejected, face-to-face, by Amora, told that he’s nothing to her and with little left to believe in, Skurge, practically grinning, holds an entire battalion of Hela’s undead warriors at bay while Thor leads the Asgardians out of harms way. I have never, in one single moment, swung so completely from the poles of despising and adoring a character I think. Beta Ray Bill is another one of my favorite creations, and kind of representative of the general weirdness I’m talking about. Thor and Donald Blake have a strange relationship…something about how Blake’s pureness of heart allows him to pick up Thor’s hammer and become Thor. I’d like to kind of think of it like this- Blake is such a good person that he can lift Thor’s hammer and suddenly, he can kind of serve as a “conduit” for the spirit of Thor. Bill makes the issue a little more complex, but I love it nonetheless. What are the odds that someone is going to have a pure heart and be able to life Thor’s hammer- let’s say, one in a million? Well, what about other races? Well for every race in the Marvel universe, there’s maybe one life form living that could wield the hammer, right? Bill was an alien warrior, genetically experimented on (even tortured) by his own race and sent into battle against Earth. Bill’s race believed that Earth might have been responsible for a tragedy that befell them. In the middle of a fight, Thor reverted to Blake only to get knocked unconscious. Bill picks up his staff, knocks it on the ground, and- poof- BILL becomes THOR. Or maybe a different kind of Thor. It’s the weirdest thing to look at- this big, kind of horse-head looking alien with Thor’s cape, helmet, and hammer. But that’s who that is, in case you’ve seen Bill and wondered what you were starring at. Are they both Thor? Not exactly. But they’re both endowed with the spirit of Thor. Maybe the earth-man version is a little closer to home- but not by much. Actually, at one point in Simonson’s run, a deep romance was developing between Bill and Sif, leaving Thor feeling somewhat isolated from his former childhood companion and love interest. Needless to say, $*&% got weird. This would be a pretty crazed movie I’m discussing here, and even I don’t know how to pull it off. But it would have to feel a little bit like an older style of movie. Like movies where fantasy is more fairy-tale-ish and less realistic. The Dark Crystal and Legend (I know, I know) come to mind. It would be like that…only with Marvel comic-ness thrown in there. Alternately, a Thor movie could be painfully, painfully real. I’m a big fan of Thor as depicted in the Ultimates. Simply put- if you ran into a big, blond haired guy who ran around with a huge hammer and claimed that he was the “Son of Odin”…wouldn’t you think he was out of his mind? And really, that’s what the Avengers- er, Ultimates- tend to do. Thor is useful, powerful…but whenever he starts talking about how he slayed such and such beast in such and such cavern, Captain American and Iron Man are rolling their eyes and mumbling “uh, right.” And of course, no Thor movie would be complete without his villainous half-brother. Odin’s adopted son, the bastard child of a hideous Frost Giant and the God of Lies and Mischief…I have no idea who I would cast as Loki. Actually? Maybe a couple different people. I think that would be fun- not even knowing what actor or actress was playing Loki until you went and saw the movie. And, for that matter, having Loki change form several times throughout the film. Actually, recently, all of the Asgardians have been reborn in mortal form. Through some strange means, Loki has managed to place himself in a woman’s body. So frankly, a female lead is not out of the question for such a film. Again, my favorite depiction of Loki involves the brutal realism of the Ultimates storyline. Loki shows up claiming- well, the truth, to a degree- that he’s Thor’s long-lost brother. The twist? Loki calls himself by some sort of synonym- Luke or Lucas, or something- and explains to Captain America and company how his poor, sick schizophrenic brother stole the prototype government “power hammer” months ago and has since degraded into delusional fantasies of Norse-mumbo-jumbo. So when Thor is screaming “LOKI! Foul VILLIAN! I shalt destroy THEE!”, Loki is saying things like “Oh…my poor brother. I’ll get you help.” Nice touch, right? Oh, but my favorite. As Thor sits alone in a S.H.I.E.L.D. detention cell, taken down by his former teammates, Loki delights in making disturbing suggestions- “What, Oh-Mighty-Thor, if you really ARE crazy? What if you really ARE schizophrenic? And Asgard is all in your head? What then?”