Thor, the mighty Norse God of Thunder. He’s been as a superhero in the Marvel Universe since 1962 and while he’s risen in the ranks to rival the strength of some of Marvel’s most noteworthy characters, Thor has had a history of difficulty in holding up a respectable image in other forms of media. There’s long been a campiness associated with the hero that always crept closer to the surface outside the pages of comics. I always took this to be the reason as to why most of his portrayals have been limited to animated series and not big screen or televised appearances. However, despite the worries of numerous fans who anxiously awaited for this production (myself included), Thor has finally hit the big screen and has delivered a powerful, if not slightly formulaic, first appearance.
The story of Thor has always been rich with Norse mythology roots despite the creative liberties taken by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is the young and defiant son of Odin (Anthony Hopkins) who is still rather juvenile and arrogant in his ways. His reckless arrogance lead to a conflict that forces his father to strip him of his powers as well as his mighty Mjolnir hammer, and banishes him to Earth after Thor breaks the fragile peace between his homeworld of Asgard and the world of the Frost Giants known as Jotunheim. This reckless act of conflict is revealed to have been encouraged by Thor’s envious and mischievous half-brother Loki who had been vying for Thor’s place as the future King of Asgard. Falling from the sky and landing in New Mexico, a disoriented Thor crosses paths with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), a research scientist who witnesses the meteorological disturbance caused by Thor’s arrival alongside her mentor Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) and her student-assistant, Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings). Thus begins Thor’s journey to prove his worth while suffering the humility of being a mere mortal on Earth.
Chris Hemsworth does an amazing job at portraying the Norse God of Thunder. From the beginning, comic book fans knew that this was going to be no easy task for an actor to accurately portray Thor without going over the top in terms of strength and camp. This fine line was walked with great attention by Hemsworth who manages to accurately portray Thor at the beginning his origins. Actor Tom Hiddleston, playing the part of Loki, also does a tremendous job at bringing the God of Mischief to the big screen. Needless to say, when these two actors are in the presence of Anthony Hopkins, both of their performances are elevated. Hopkins does the character of Odin a great deal of justice by portraying him as the loving but stern father of both Thor and Loki.
Director Kenneth Branagh was an interesting and somewhat appropriate choice for Marvel to make when the film was in pre-production. The rich mythology of Thor seemed like the perfect base for Branagh to work with and strip away any comical or foolish elements that might translate onto the big screen. Unfortunately, there’s a formulaic thread that runs throughout the film, mostly with the scenes on Earth, that hampers what could have been a much deeper storyline to resonate with audiences. Instead, we get a slightly predicable storyline and some cringe-worthy lovey-dovey lines from Natalie Portman. That’s not to say that the film isn’t fun to watch, especiallythor_film_movie_review when we’re treated to the off-planet battle scenes and landscapes. I just feel that there were some missed opportunities in adding some depth to the relationships that Thor develops on Earth. There’s also surprising amount of genuinely funny moments peppered throughout the film mostly thanks to Hemsworth.
Fans of both the comic books and the Marvel Cinematic Universe will find a great deal of glossed over references to the other Marvel films which are all leading up the upcoming Avengers film. This highly anticipated film will unite Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Thor and several other characters who have made appearances in the films. One of the pleasant treats in Thor was being able to catch a glimpse at Hawkeye (uncredited) as a SHIELD agent watching over the action as Thor fights through a scene. Again, some genuinely funny dialogue is delivered.
In closing, Thor has succeeded in delivering a fun, entertaining and, most importantly, credible feature film based on the Norse God of Thunder. While the film does suffer from formulaic plot at times and much of the Earth-based action may feel somewhat underwhelming (ie, Destroyer scene), Branagh has accomplished what many have doubted could be done…
Thor is now on the mainstream A-list.