A Discussion of Thor

This year feels like my year. Multiple superhero films being released, three of them being particular favorites of mine. The first to approach the plate was Thor, or as I like to call him ‘my spiritual father.’ Now I have this weird thing where I tend to become a fan of character over comics and Thor is no exception. I love the character but in the past did not collect his comics. I enjoyed his appearances in other books, and I read about the things he had done, just not in his own books. It stems a bit from my liking the mythological Thor first, it also comes from not trusting writers. If I love the character I can always boil him back to brass tacks, but if I love the comic I have to accept every stupid plot and sentence the current writer puts down.

That said, I love Thor. How can you not? He’s primal, elemental, and heroic. So clearly when I heard they were making a movie and he would be played by captain Kirk’s father I fell to the ground in terror. But the movie arrived and I have to say it’s very solid. Maybe it’s just me but it felt a lot like Iron Man, in tone and plotting. Not that that’s a bad thing, Iron Man is possibly the best superhero movie ever. I mean, I loves me some Dark Knight but it’s a crime drama with weird people, Iron Man has a guy with super abilities setting out to right some wrongs.

To me the difference is subtle, but vast. When I finished watching Iron Man I thought “I’d like to see that again,” but when I finished watching Thor I thought “Oh man, I hope they make a crap ton of sequels!”  I don’t know how they did it but Thor managed to both ‘give me what I want’ and ‘leave me wanting more’ which is the highest accomplishment any bit of media can accomplish.

It sets up Thor very plausibly, showing us the world from his viewpoint and never once having us doubt him. The Norse gods exist, they live in a cool place with a terrible commute and after a bad ass action piece we see that Thor is in fact a master of bringing pain. An entire movie could have been made of this opening bit, and in the hands of a lesser director it would have been, and people would have complained that Thor was shallow. So we get the rest of the movie. Thor gets to interact with humanity, because Odin feels he doesn’t respect us. So he gets sent to some tiny little town in the middle of nowhere.

This hick town setting is lifted from the recentish run on the Thor comics by J. Michael Stracensky. In the comics Thor brings Asgard to hover above a big empty spot and thus has to interact with a bunch of yokels. It’s good fun, and honestly I wish more of that had been in the movie, unfortunately much of that depends on a great many other events occurring in the Marvel universe, so it happening in the movie is unlikely. But one day I would love to see Volstagg whipping up omelets at Bill’s Diner. But ehre it works well, giving us enough humanity for Thor to play against, but not enough to overpower his character. I really loved these scenes, and the portrayal of Thor by Chris Helmsworth. He managed to show Thor as ignorant of Earth’s ways, but not stupid. There is now poking at a talking magic box, but there is a bit of a misunderstanding at the pet shop. It’s all good fun, and Helmsworth manages to look like he’s having fun at times, reveling in Thor’s simpler, barbarian side.

Speaking of which, screw this thought out commentary. Thor is awesome. Thor is awesome. I love when he hits up a bar and has a drinking contest with an old professor. I love how Loki was portrayed to near perfection. I love Heimdall even though he stands about a lot and some wackjobs were annoyed that he might be of a wrong shade. I love that the Warriors Three and tagalong Sif had strong supporting roles. It was a well put together cast and all the elements worked together like a well oiled clock. I don’t know if clocks need oiled but dammit this movie was awesome.

I love that Fandral is laughing as he fights in the beginning, and how easily Thor fells frost giants. They really made the hammer feel powerful, and incorporated some of his signature bits, I nearly cheered when he spin the hammer. I was also happy with the war between science and magic in the movie, when female love interest draws him a diagram of how dimensions work and he explains it by drawing a pretty tree. But he does so without belittling her or sounding dumb, because we know it’s true because the movie showed it to us.

If I had a problem with the movie it would be that Loki’s heel turn wasn’t really expounded upon enough. I mean if you know who Loki is you can just say “Well it’s because he loves mischief” but for the normal people who don’t read comic books and Norse religious sites all day it might have been nice to have some more exposition. But that would have detracted from Thor hamming it up for cameras and breaking coffee cups. And that was not sarcasm.

Oh, and also Hogun looked nothing like Hogun.  “Jacky Chan?” should have been “Genghis Khan.”

I greatly enjoyed Thor, it laid a very strong foundation that could support a franchise of movies. I am now worried that the Avengers film will mess up Thor continuity instead of the opposite. It was a great film to kick of the summer movie season and continues to support my hope for future superhero films.

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4 thoughts on “A Discussion of Thor

  1. I have this thing whereupon I like Thor in a general kind of way, like, conceptually. I do think there are better, or at least more interesting characters in the Marvel pantheon that deserve to see film treatment more than this contractually obligated Avenger.

    But at the same time, the story being told holds ubiquity in mythology, and it is toodles with patience. It even posesses a bittersweet ending with true gravitas in the sacrifice made, though obviously remains optimistic despite that.

    However, I Deeply critisize the very lousy tacked on 3D that was literally forced on me and Jill despite wanting to avoid it; no theater in Chicago offered anything else.

    Your enthusiasm was in this case contagious, and I was happy to see a Thor more complex than I expected.

  2. I go through great lengths myself to avoid 3D showings as much as I can. I’ve only suffered through 2 in the last half year!

    As for Thor, I too enjoyed the film. Thus, we are legion.

    I’m not as savvy on Thor, since I don’t read as many comics as I probably should (largely because I staunchly refuse to get entangled in the minutia that the plots invariably drown themselves in. I’m transposed somewhere between being picky and consuming the lowest common denominator.

    That said, I knew tidbits enough about Thor’s background to know what’s going while still enjoying the film for the details. I wouldn’t say the action in the film is the best the Marvel films have seen, but the actors more than made up for any shortcomings in the structure. My main concern was whether or not Thor, the most outlandish character in the Avengers set in terms of origin, ability and behavior could be presented in our own world plausibly before being integrated into a grand team of heroes as a whole.

    And you know, I think they did it. I felt this film was the hardest sell and they pulled it off nicely. I would say the film could have done with more length (certainly a sign that the film was succeeding in terms of raw merit) and having the hammer fly back to him seems, admittedly, a little convenient (since I was of the impression anyone who had the qualifications could pick up the hammer and nothing was said about it homing in on a person of appropriate character).

    (Aren’t parentheses great?)

    I feel like it wouldn’t hurt to have a Thor 2 to explain how he gets back to earth before the Avengers film, but I imagine with the timetable (and not knowing the contents of Joss’ script) there’s no way that could be in the cards without being badly rushed.

  3. I buy Portman easier since I happen to think she is a fine actress and can pull off more ‘sophisticated’ stuff, where as Richards falls into the same boat as Katey Holmes to me. Plus Portman is a Harvard girl, so that lends a bit of real life cred.

    RE: the hammer flying back. I’ll admit I feel it was a small stretch (I assume you are referencing the bit at the end, and not just it’s returning in general) but was ok with it since there are precedences in the comics where he simply demands the hammer return and it does so. At one point the hammer was eaten by a head of Set and Thor bellowed “I would have my hammer back!” and it returned, blowing up that head to do so.

    I also thought the violence was set up in an interesting fashion, with the ‘better’ stuff at the beginning and the ending fights being shorter. The difference is at the beginning we know little of the characters and are basically given their personalities via their fighting prowess. At the end the combat relies more on that one hit conveying all the drama and personality we have seen build for the entire movie.

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