Review - Thor

Thor doesn't have a catchy theme song. He doesn't have a secret identity. He does have Mjolnir though, the mighty hammer that allows him superhuman strength, agility and all around badassness. He's a character that many people recognize, but few actually know his whole backstory. Kenneth Branagh's Marvel directorial debut on Thor was an origin story and a pretty damn good one at that. Minor spoilers ahead.

As far as origin stories go, this one was fairly true to the comics. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is a brash, cocky son of Odin (Anthony Hopkins) who, on the day of his coronation, decides to travel to Yodenheim, home of the Frost Giants. Asgard and Yodenheim have been at an uneasy peace for a time and Thor decides to shake things up a bit and wreck some Frost Giants for an intrusion into Asgard. This venture was a great way to showcase Thor and Mjolnir. I was happy to see that Branagh worked in a variety of attacks for Thor and Mjolnir as it showed you that he was more than just a god with a hammer. Upon return, Odin feels that Thor needs to be taught humility and banishes him to Earth. This is where the movie diverges slightly from the comics.

In the comics, Thor is placed with no memories of godhood in the body of Donald Blake, a partially disabled medical student. In the movie he's still banished, only he's banished as Thor, meaning his entire quest is to get back to Asgard. There are some funny moments in the transition, such as when Thor slams a coffee mug on the floor demanding more. Jane Foster is still here (Natalie Portman) as an astrophysicist struggling to learn more about our place in the universe and wormholes.

Thor is a somewhat unique character in that his learning process is the reverse of other superheroes. Most superheroes struggle with learning how to use their newfound powers. Thor is forced to learn how to live WITHOUT his powers with the hope that he'll learn the humility he sorely needs. For most of the movie Thor had the bravado of a god, only without the inhuman strength to back it up. He went into the S.H.I.E.L.D. site and pretty much wrecked shop trying to get Mjolnir, finding that he couldn't pull it out of the stone. Hemsworth was a good choice to play Thor. He was able to move gradually from being a god to just a guy back to being a god, falling in love and learning humility in the process.

I'd be remiss if I didn't spend sometime talking about Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Raised as Thor's brother Loki is the classic "insecurity because my brother is loved more than me" story. Branagh's portrayal of Loki is very cold and calculating, which I feel is one side of Loki. There wasn't a lot of the trickster aspect of the character here, but I'm ok with that. Hiddleston deftly played all sides of the conflict with little regard for consequences and I admire that in the character. He became a villain that you started to feel was shady the more you saw him, although it wasn't until the very end that you truly understand his greater purpose.

The Frost Giants played a fairly big role in the film as well. Their part as villains was really more as a thorn in the side to Asgard and pawns for Loki to move. It seemed that every time Yodenheim went up against Asgard the Frost Giants just got it handed to them. It took away some of their mystique and I wonder if Branagh would have been better served having them kill a semi-main character. Sure they took Odin's eye but they could even handle a frozen Heimdall (Idris Elba).

I've heard some complaints that the movie should have spent more time on Asgard. I have to respectfully disagree. Branagh did a great job blending the two worlds of Asgard and Midgard together, although he did devote slightly more time to Asgard. Thor's origin takes place on both worlds so it's important that both are represented in the film. I won't lie though- it would have been awesome to see more battles between Asgard and the Frost Giants.

Branagh did an exceptional job and in all honesty was the perfect choice for directing Thor. The movie screamed Shakespearean tragedy and Branagh elicited a certain stage presence from his characters. They all seemed larger than life when on Asgard and in combat, something akin to what you would see in a Shakespeare play. Thor is a very Shakespearean character in some regards so getting Branagh was definitely a good move. He managed to blend in action with the larger than life storyline and I applaud him for that. His approach to the characters was also very tragic. Odin learning of Loki's transgressions after learning that Thor wasn't ready to be king. Thor learning that he was betrayed by Loki and Loki feeling that his whole family betrayed him.

Considering Thor is part of the Avengers I was surprised there wasn't more interaction between him and Agent Coulson/Nick Fury. Thor ended with the Thor in Asgard and no way to get back to Earth and there were no encounters while on Earth between Thor and S.H.I.E.L.D. You would think that maybe there would have been at least communication with him about joining the organization, but I have a feeling with the way the movie ended Thor will find his way back somehow.

The movie was more of a setup for the upcoming Avengers film. It's almost like Marvel had a planning meeting that went something like this.

Exec 1: We need to do an Avengers movie.

Exec 2: People don't know about Thor.

Exec 1: Right. We'll do Thor first, so when the Avengers movie comes out everyone will know what's going on.

I'm not knocking Marvel for it, but I sort of feel that Thor was made really as a prologue for the Avengers movie. Sure, it stands on its own as an origin story, but even at the end of Thor Marvel plasters "Thor Will Return in The Avengers." It doesn't really seem to me that Marvel wants to continue the Thor franchise as a standalone and that's sort of sad. Thor is a solid, if not spectacular, film. Branagh did a great job and Hemsworth was definitely a good choice for Thor. Since everyone compares any comic book movie to The Dark Knight I'll says it's not nearly as good as that, but it's still better than a lot of the other comic book movies out there.


  1. no there was a moment when Thor joined them. Right after he gets the hammer and becomes Thor again, he tells agent Coulson that he is a friend to them and can call on him whenever.


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