Verily I say unto thee – there be spoilers ahead! I did talk about this in the last Extra Sequential podcast, but I wanted to spotlight my ramshackle thoughts in a separate post. Forgive the unusual rambling approach.
Marvel’s classic blonde god of thunder was always going to be difficult to adapt, but now’s the time, with greater acceptance of cinematic superheroes and a great recent revival of the character in the pages of Marvel’s comics. The familiar elements of the origin are still present from his ’60s debut, primarily including Thor being the son of Odin, who in turn strips him of his power and banishes him to Earth where, as a mortal man, he can learn humility. With plenty of Norse mythology, sci-fi, fantasy and superheroics the film thankfully never goes off the rails.
Aussie Chris Hemsworth (Kirk’s Dad in the last Star Trek film) plays Thor well, as he is obviously the centre of this film, and has a worthy character arc from arrogant almost-king to sacrificial warrior. The romance with astrophysicist (originally nurse in the comics) Jane Foster played by Natalie Portman is subtle and interesting.
Kenneth Branagh directs it well and offers some surprising humour in the film’s opening and while showing Thor’s god-like antics amongst the mortals. The last film Branagh directed was 2007′s excellent Sleuth starring Jude Law and Michael Caine. Watch it! The film is at its best during the Earth bound scenes. Although Anthony Hopkins is a fierce king, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki turns evil far too easily and the Asgardian fights with the Frost Giants, though well paced are distractingly loud.
I did enjoy it, but not as much as I was hoping too. The costumes are grand and Asgard is the best fantasy environment seen on screen since The Lord of the Rings, though the ending did surprise me. I expect Thor 2 will be much better. Some pleasant moments include a flying Thor (!), Clark Gregg’s S.H.I.E.L.D Agent Coulson being as coolly entertaining as he was in both Iron Man films and Idris Elba’s Bifrost rainbow bridge guardian Heimdall remaining suitably stoic.
The post-credits scene isn’t really worth it. Nick Fury (head of S.H.I.E.L.D appears) played by Samuel L. Jackson, as he did in both Iron Mans, to reveal a powerful object that will only mean something to Captain America fans (and no, it’s not his shield). The fact that this object looks very similar to the one used by the Frost Giants only complicates matters.
However, as us fans expected to see fellow future Avenger Hawkeye in this bonus scene, it was nice to see him instead, briefly, in the film itself. Only referred to as Barton (Hawkeye’s real name is Clint Barton) the archer is played by Hurt Locker’s Jeremy Renner, as he will be in next year’s Joss Whedon led The Avengers team film.
Oh, and a few things for geeks to look out for:
A tourism billboard uses the phrase, “Journey into Mystery,” which is the name of the comic series that Thor debuted in
Stellan Skarsgard’s scientist Erik Selvig mentions that he had a friend who had breakthroughs in gamma radiation and once S.H.I.E.L.D discovered them he was never seen again (that’d be Bruce Banner AKA Hulk)
Agent Coulson upon seeing the Destroyer remarks that it might be Stark’s as he never tells him anything; Stark being Tony Stark AKA Iron Man
Thor co-creator Stan Lee in a great pickup driving cameo