“You think me strange? Good strange, or bad strange?”
First dates are essentially scams. You sit down to dinner with someone you don’t know, and try to pretend that you’re someone else. Someone charming, and succesful, and definitely not into doing weird things with fish. No sir. Not you. The second and third dates are more or less the same. But by the time the fourth date rolls around you need to start being honest. That’s where you take your date on a long walk and say “Look. I really like you. I like where this is going. But if we’re going to have something together I’m going to have to tell you just how much of a freak I actually am.”
“This. This is me. This is what I get up to.”
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has essentially been a long, meticulous romancing of the mainstream. Thor is the part of the relationship where Marvel finally says “I’m glad you like the snarky businessman in the robot suit and the scientist who turns into a green monster. Now here’s where we get nuts.” As a title, The Mighty Thor has always been an unapologetically melodramatic, ridiculous, camp, epic, nonsensical, glorious, mess. In short, it is one of the purest comic books ever written. It’s huge men with long flowing hair and fabulous capes yelling cod-Shakespearean insults at each other and not understanding the difference between “thee” and “thou”.
It, quite simply, does not give a fuck.
But first, a little history.
The character of Thor was created early in the first millennium by the Germanic peoples inhabiting what is now Scandinavia. Some stuff happened. Then, in 1962, the character was introduced into the Marvel universe by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby in the pages of Tales to Astonish. There’s a little bit of confusion as to who actually came up with the idea (aside from the ancient Vikings, I mean). Stan Lee claims that the idea came to him when he realised that the only way to create a character stronger than the Hulk would be to make him a god, and that rather than go with the more well-known Greek or Roman deities he decided to delve into Norse mythology.
Meanwhile, Cúchulainn sits on the damn shelf.
Jack Kirby, on the other hand, claims that he created the character because of his love of Norse mythology and to be honest, I think the evidence is on Kirby’s side. Kirby had already created not one but two versions of Thor for DC in the golden age, so he clearly had an interest in the character. Not only that, but “comic book characters as post-industrial mythology” was kind of Jack Kirby’s whole deal. Thor’s sales have never exactly set the world on fire but this is nonetheless a character with some serious cred. There are many who consider Lee and Kirby’s run on the character the finest work of either men in the sixties (damn high praise) and he’s also had some celebrated runs, none greater than Walt Simonson’s glorious, batshit insane epic in the eighties.
This is normally the part of the review where I would say “we do not speak of the Frog of Thunder” but even this was AWESOME.
He’s also been a very consistent presence in the Marvel universe, showing up in almost everyone else’s books at one time or another and, if there’s a team of Avengers that Thor’s not on, it’s probably only because he’s dead again. He’s always been one of the company’s “faces”, one of their most visible and iconic characters. And yet, Thor has always struggled outside of comics. His live action appearances before 2011 was just a single episode of The Incredible Hulk, and he hasn’t headlined his own cartoon series since the frickin’ sixties (compare that to Spider-man, who gets a new cartoon show every time Stan Lee sneezes). Same Raimi originally pitched a Thor movie to Marvel all the way back in 1990 and from there it was dropped, picked up again, briefly re-conceived as a TV show starring Tyler Mane before bouncing to Sony, then to Paramount before finally arriving back at Marvel. The decision to nominate Kenneth Branagh to direct was surprising but also kind of inspired. Branagh is famous as an interpreter of Shakespeare for the masses, and Stan Lee is of course one of the biggest Shakespeare fanboys out there.
He made Falstaff into a superhero, people.
Branagh was the perfect candidate to make the overblown, melodramatic bluster of Thor work for a mainstream audience. Just, for the love of God, don’t subject yourself to his commentary on the DVD.
“The director’s an ass.”
Marvel knew going in that compared to Iron Man and Hulk, this movie was the real test. This is where they’d learn if a mainstream audience could really accept all the comic book nuttiness they were about to bring. It was time to see if this relationship had legs.
Our movie begins in New Mexico where Doctor Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her mentor Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgaard) and her assistant Darcy Lewis (the personification of joy and beauty) are studying atmospheric anomalies in the desert. Suddenly, a twister comes out of nowhere and the three chase after it in their van, obviously hoping to get to it before that corporate butt kiss Jonas Miller.
He’s in it for the money. Not the SCIENCE.
Suddenly, a wild handsome man appears. Jane hits him with her van. It’s super effective. While Darcy offers to give the dude CPR Jane looks around in bewilderment and wonders where he came from.
“And now for something completely different.”
It’s 983 AD and a Viking village comes under attack from a race of fearsome, ice wielding monsters called the Frost Giants. Led by their fearsome king Laufey (Colm Feore), they attack from the sea and lay waste to everything, killing indiscriminately while the Vikings wail “Why us?! What did we do to deserve this?!”
“LET IT GO! LET IT GOOOOO!!
The Frost Giants are halted by the Asgardians, led by Odin (Anthony Hopkins), who explains via narration how the Frost Giants were beaten back to their homeworld of Jotunheim and peace was restored to the cosmos. The action now shifts to Asgard where an older Odin is recounting the tale of his victory to his young sons Loki (Ted Allpress) and Thor (Dakota Goyo). Little Thor is very eager to become king one day and kick some Frost Giants right in the snowballs and I would call Dakota Goyo a Nice Young Gentleman Who’s Doing his Best but HOLY SHIT someone out there named their son “Dakota” and that is really the issue that needs to addressed here. Movie can wait. We need to get this kid into care.
Odin tells Thor that a good king must never seek out war but must always be ready for it. He then tells his boys that only one of them can rule but they were both “born to be kings”.
Hmmm. I guess you could say they’re the princes of the universe?
We now leap forward a few hundred years (this movie jumps around like frickin’ Cloud Atlas) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is all grown up and about to be proclaimed king of Asgard.
So one of the things that surprised me about this movie on re-watching was that it is much better than I remembered, or at the very least far more interesting. Thor exists in a much richer emotional universe than the two IronMan movies or Hulk. Instead of focusing on one dude and his problem and how the entire universe revolves around that, Thor has a central three-sided relationship; that of Thor, Odin and Loki that is constantly shifting and turning in new and unexpected ways. On top of that, even relatively minor characters like Heimdall undergo their own journeys. Even though Thor is the one with his name in the title, the movie is not all about him, but about a pretty complex series of interpersonal relationships, rivalries and loyalties. It’s not simply a story about a Prince, but an entire kingdom. And I think part of the reason for that is that Branagh is very much an actor’s director and knows how to get very good performances out of very good actors. Look, I love Anthony Hopkins as much as anyone else, but he can phone it in when he doesn’t think the material is worth the effort. Watch the coronation scene again sometime. As Odin is about to proclaim Thor king Hopkins delivers the line with a mix of love and pride, but also a real and palpable fear. He knows all too well that Thor may not be ready for the big chair, and he’s just hoping against all odds that he’ll rise to the challenge.
Suddenly, Odin senses something wrong and we cut to the Asgardian weapons vault where three Frost Giants have broken in and are trying to steal the Casket of Ancient Winters, a super-weapon that Odin stole from them centuries ago. Odin activates the Destroyer, a massive robot who casually wipes out the Frost Giants before going back to sleep. Odin, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Thor rush down to the weapons vault and check the damage.
Thor is furious at the Frost Giants for spoiling his big day and demands that they pay for what they’ve done and Odin’s like “What, you want to kill ‘em again?”. Thor angrily insists that they should attack Jotunheim and Odin reminds him that they have a treaty with the Frost Giants. Thor retorts that they just broke that treaty. Now honestly, I’m kinda with Thor on this. The Frost Giants were able to sneak into Asgard’s most secure facility, where literally dozens of mystical weapons of mass destruction were being held. It’s a clear act of war, not to mention a potentially catastrophic security breach and a really, really big ‘effin deal. Odin’s blasé, “oh well, no harm no foul” attitude is frankly as bewildering to the audience as to Thor. Why isn’t Odin making a bigger deal of this, especially considering his much more hawkish response to the Night Elf attack in Thor 2? Couple of possible explanations:
Odin knows that he’s going to have to enter the Odinsleep soon and that Thor simply isn’t ready to lead Asgard through a bloody war with the Frost Giants. So, he’s downplaying the incident in the hope that he can simply tighten up security and hope Laufey quits while he’s ahead.
Odin already suspects that Loki was the one who let the Frost Giants in and that if this doesn’t get swept under the rug quickly he’s going to have to try his own son for treason.
He is AN OLD MAN AND A FOOL!
Thor is furious that Asgard are goin’ look like some punk ass bitches up in this world tree and gathers his friends the warriors three, Hogun, Fandral and Volstagg as well as the Lady Sif and a reluctant Loki and sets off for Jotunheim to demand answers from the Frost Giants. But first they have to pass Asgard’s gatekeeper Heimdall, played by Idris Motherfucking Elba.
If the man comin’, make ready for the man.
At the time, Elba’s casting set off a particularly nasty ruckus on the internet as to whether it was appropriate for a Norse god to be played by someone who was black. To which I say, on the contrary, Elba’s casting is the most appropriate in the movie because he’s the only one playing a god who actually is one in real life.
Heimdall says that he has strict orders to not let anyone through, but that those Frost Giants were the first ones to ever sneak past him and he really wants to know how they did that so he opens the Bifrost bridge to Jotunheim. Heimdall tells Thor and his companions that if shit goes south, they’re on their own and he won’t reopen the bridge. Volstagg asks why he doesn’t leave the bridge open and Heimdall says because that would rip Jotunheim apart and…yeah, I’m starting to see why the Frost Giants are not entirely happy about the current status quo. Not only do the Asgardians have a whole vault full of doomsday weapons, they could destroy the Frost Giants entire world by accident if they leave the front door open too long.
In Jotunheim, Thor and the Thorettes just stride into Laufey’s court and Thor demands to know how his people were able to enter Asgard. Laufey says that the house of Odin is full of traitors and points out that there’s six of Thor and his friends and ooooh…an entire planet full of Frost Giants so he’d better git while the gittin’s good. Loki, realising that they have made a rather colossal mistake, thanks Laufey and says that they’ll get out of his frosty hair.
Now, if I might take a moment to grumble at lost opportunities, who among you has the power to stop me? That’s what I thought. Now, Colm Feore is great as Laufey, really menacing and surprisingly memorable for such a minor role. But in the original Norse myths Laufey was female. She was gender flipped in the comics, probably because someone in Marvel read “Loki, son of the frost giant Laufey” and Wikipedia hadn’t been invented yet to do more in depth research. My beef is that while there’s relatively few badass roles for women period, there are practically zero for women over forty and a Queen Laufey could have been a very interesting, very different kind of character. As to who would play her?
C’mon. This would have been awesome. You know it, I know it, let’s not lie to each other. We’ve come too far for that.
Thor almost backs away but then one of the Frost Giants calls him “princess” and he loses it, because he’s not from a canon Disney movie SO CLEARLY HE CAN’T BE A DISNEY PRINCESS, THOSE ARE THE DAMN RULES.
I DEFY YOU, PRETENDER!
The negotiations then pivot to the topic of how many punches each side is willing to accept in their faces. The Frost Giants have an icy cold touch that burns the Asgardians except for Loki.
“Huh. Cold never bothered me, anyway.”
Just when it looks like they’re all about to get a one way trip to Valhalla, Odin arrives on an eight legged horse and apologises to Laufey for his son’s invasion of his kingdom. Laufey says that “sorry” and a muffin basket ain’t gonna cut it and tells Odin that this means war. Which is kind of a stupid thing to say to someone who can destroy your world by leaving the front door open but whatevs. Odin spirits Thor and his party back to Asgard and Anthony Hopkins and Chris Hemsworth get to just cut loose. Odin is furious that Thor has “…opened these peaceful realms and innocent lives to the horror and desolation of WAAAAAAHAAAAAAR!”. Loki tries to intervene on his behalf and Odin shuts him up with a low, guttural snarl which IMDB hilariously transcribes as “HEY” and now all I can picture is…
“Father, please reconsider…”
Odin tells Thor that he is unworthy of being king, and you can hear all the doubt and shame and bitterness that he kept to himself finally erupting to the surface. He feels betrayed because he deluded himself into thinking that his son was a worthy king when he was simply a spoiled child. Odin strips Thor of his armour, hammer and fabulous cape and casts him down to earth. He then casts a spell on Mjolnir, saying that only he who is worthy may wield the hammer.
Thor arrives in the desert, gets smacked by the van and we’re back where we came in. Thor wakes up and starts yelling about magic hammers and gods until Darcy gets so freaked out that she Tasers him which is hilarious when you consider that she just electrocuted the god of thunder.
“OH GOD! OH GOD! IS THIS WHAT THIS FEELS LIKE?! I’M A MONSTER!!!!”
They bring Thor to the hospital where he wakes up and attacks the orderlies before being sedated with a shot of morphine to the buttocks.
“Darkness enveloped the Son of Odin, blacker than a Night Elf’s tuckus on a moonless Niflheim night…”
Back at the lab, Jane’s readings from the night before show that the storm was actually a wormhole and their footage shows Thor falling from it. Jane, D’arcy and Selvig race back to the hospital only to find that Thor has broken loose. Jane says that they have to find him and Darcy readies the Tazer because that’s how Darcy gets shit done. It turns out they don’t have to go very far as Jane backs her van right into him as he wanders bewildered outside the hospital.
Meanwhile, we get the stinger from the end of Iron Man 2 again as Coulson rolls up in the desert where a crowd of locals are taking turns trying to lift Thor’s hammer while holding a barbecue. Speaking of slabs of meat, we now get a fairly shameless scene of Thor walking around topless until Jane gives him a shirt belonging to her ex, thereby covering him up.
“You’ve made a powerful enemy today, Jane.”
Back at Asgard, the Thorettes discuss Thor’s banishment and Volstagg asks how Odin even knew they were in Jotunheim. Loke reveals that he told a guard to inform Odin as soon as they set out and that they should never have gotten as far as they did. Sif tells Loki that he has to intercede on Thor’s behalf but Loki says that Thor has proven himself to be too dangerous and reckless to rule Asgard. And you know what? Yes. Yes he has. Loki storms out and Sif says that well, Loki’s obviously just jealous of Thor’s washboard abs. Hogun reminds them that Laufey said there was a traitor in the House of Odin and everyone makes suspicious eyebrow faces.
We’ve already spent plenty of time exploring the relationship between Thor and Odin, and now the movie turns its attention to Odin’s relationship with his second son. Loki confronts his father who confesses that he was a Frost Giant foundling, Laufey’s son no less, who he rescued from certain death after the final battle with the Frost Giants. Loki demands to know why Odin rescued him and Odin says “Uh, because I’m not a dick?” and Loki says “But you are a dick.” and Odin says “Okay, I may have been planning a little dynastic union that would have made you king of Jotunheim but that’s all gone down the crapper now.”
So this revelation is exactly what Loki doesn’t need. He’s already carrying around a metric ton of second son syndrome and suddenly he finds out that the father he’s always suspected of not loving him as much as his brother isn’t even related to him. But why does Loki feel so slighted by his father? Did Odin really favour Thor? Honestly, I don’t see it. I think Odin loves Loki very much. Odin is a god of both wisdom and battle, and his two sons represent different aspects of his deity, Loki the thinker and Thor the warrior. I think Odin probably wishes he could just smush both his sons together and get one with Thor’s guts and Loki’s brains. Of course, a considerable segment of the fandom also wishes they could smush Thor and Loki together but for entirely different reasons. Anyway, the emotional strain of this argument causes Odin to slip into the Odinsleep and a terrified Loki calls for the guards.
Meanwhile Jane, Darcy and Selvig take Thor for breakfast where he asks for coffee by smashing the mug on the ground and bellowing “ANOTHER!”. Jane chews him out for this and he apologises and we see the first hints of a more courteous, humble Thor. When he overhears two of the locals talking about his weird hammer shaped satellite that no one can lift and is making everyone feel really inadequete. Thor asks for Jane’s help in getting there but Selvig warns her that Thor is clearly crazy so she has to tell him that she can’t. Thor politely bids them farewell and sets off to get is hammer back. The three return to the lab only to find secret agents stealing all their shit. Coulson tells Jane that he’s from SHIELD and she says “Is that supposed to mean something?”
“Seriously? We’ve got to be the largest federal bureau in the country. We’re like the CIA times the FBI times a bajillion. Do you people even watch the news?”
What I also find interesting about this scene is just how uncomfortable and apologetic Coulson is about all this. He has no trouble pushing a rich asshole like Tony Stark around but he genuinely does not like having to be the bad guy to an ordinary citizen like Jane. After SHIELD cleans them out, Selvig tells Jane that he knew a guy who was working in Gamma radiation who vanished shortly after SHIELD showed up…which I don’t really know how that ties in with Hulk because the only ones after Bruce Banner in that movie were the US Military. But anyway, Selvig says he’ll email a friend of his whose had dealings with SHIELD before and that he maybe able to help (fun fact, he’s actually talking about Hank Pym because Ant Man was supposed to come out WAY earlier than it eventually did).
Back in Asgard, the Thorettes try to speak with Odin only to find that Loki has now assumed the throne and that anything they wanted to say to his father they can now say to him. Quietly tucking the list of “50 reasons why Loki sucks” into their back pockets, Sif and the Warriors Three pledge their loyalty and get the heck out of there.
Meanwhile, Thor is in a petshop trying to buy a steed large enough to carry him to Mjolnir and isn’t impressed with the parrot the shop keeper is trying to sell him.
“No he is not “pining for the fjords”. I’m a norse god, I can tell when something’s pining for the fjords.”
Jane, now desperate to get all her research back, offers to give him a lift to the impact site. SHIELD has now built an entire facility around the hammer under the supervision of Coulson and another SHIELD agent named Jasper Sitwell.
“Looks like we have a rainstorm incoming, sir” “Yes. That’ll keep the soil HYDRAted. Heh heh heh.” “Heh…I don’t get it.”
Thor fights his way through the SHIELD agents to get to the hammer, and Coulson orders a mysterious individual to take him out. A mysterious individual who reaches for, of all things, a bow and arrow. Well, I’m sure you all know who I’m talking about, right?
IDIOTS. YOU’RE ALL IDIOTS!
Also, I have to ask. What’s even the point of introducing Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) in this movie if he doesn’t do anything? Not even anything cool. ANY THING. He watches Thor beat up a guy in the mud and has maybe two lines about how awesome Thor is. That’s it. Anyway, Thor finally gets to the hammer but of course he can’t lift it because, obviously, he’s not worthy anymore. Thor is devastated.
And this shot is just gorgeous.
Coulson arrests Thor and interrogates him, asking him how he was able to make highly trained SHIELD agents look like a bunch of amateurs and BWAHAHAHAAA! Oh I’m sorry Coulson, but c’mon. SHIELD’s a joke. SHIELD’s always been a joke, that’s why you need a bunch of costumed super powered vigilantes running around saving the world, because the agency that’s supposed to do that spends all it’s time vacillating between being comically inept and pure evil. Seriously, say what you will about HYDRA, but at least when they’re running SHIELD shit gets done. SHIELD is like Bush-era FEMA with flying aircraft carriers. Coulson steps out for a minute and suddenly Loki’s in Thor’s cell with him looking dapper as all fuck.
Oh he is just POURED into that suit.
Loki tells Thor that Odin has died from the stress of Thor’s banishment and the threat of war with Jotunheim. Loki says that he is now the king of Asgard but that under the terms of the new treaty with Jotunheim, Thor has to remain on Earth. Loki says that he’s sorry and Thor says that he’s the one who’s sorry and thanks Loki for breaking the news to him.
Meanwhile, Selvig arrives at the site and spins Coulson a whole cock and bull story about Thor being a co-worker of Jane’s with emotional problems. Coulson, interested to see where Thor will go, or probably just impressed by Selvig’s chutzpah, has Thor released into his custody. Thor and Selvig go for a drink and bond and back at the lab, after they’ve put Selvig to sleep, Thor tells Jane everything she wants to know about Asgard and Bifrost. Thor’s clearly been changed by all this. He’s now more humble, less arrogant, and generally less of a big blonde prick.
With one potential rival to the throne dealt with, Loki turns his attention to Odin. Loki travels to Jotunheim and makes a deal with Laufey, he’ll allow him and his troops into Asgard where they can murder Odin while he sleeps, and Loki will give them back the Casket of Winters. When he returns to Asgard, Heimdall asks where he was and Loki tells him that he was on the planet of None of Your Fucking Business. Heimdall’s not the only one who’s starting to chafe under the glorious rule of King Loki The Obviously Suspicious and Sif and the Warriors Three head down to Midgard to bring Thor back.
The Asgardians tell Thor that Odin’s still alive and that his brother is a dick. But Loki sends the Destroyer down to Earth to kill Thor. The Thorettes try to fight the Destroyer while Thor, Jane, Darcy and Selvig evacuate the town. Thor sees that his friends have no hope against this enemy, so he tells them that he has a plan and to get to safety. And then Thor walks towards the Destroyer.
Mark Protosevich, who came up with the original story for this movie, described is the journey of an Old Testament who learns to become a New Testament god. Thor offers his life for that of the townspeople and tells Loki that he is truly sorry for his past actions. Loki seems genuinely moved, and has the Destroyer power down it’s face lazer. Aaaaaand then Loki has the Destroyer beat Thor like a red-headed step-child that got into the jam. He’s a little unpredictable, our Loki.
Jane runs to him and Thor says that it doesn’t matter that he’s dying because at least she’s safe and yeah, sure Marvel. You spent $150 Million just to tell us the story of a Viking God who loses his powers, comes to earth and dies after being punched by a robot can you please stop wasting my time and get to the part where he YES THANK YOU.
All we want, Marvel.
Because of course he is now worthy, Mjolnir flies into Thor’s hands, he gets his powers back and kicks the Destroyer’s ass until it is officially the Destroyee. Coulson rolls up and demands to know what’s going on and Thor tells “Son of Coul” that he’s one of the good guys and that they can work together if Coulson gives Jane all her shit back. He then offers to show Jane Bifrost and flies off while Coulson yells “I still need to debrief you!” and sorry, Phil, looks like you’re going to have to wait until Jane “de-briefs” him first if you know what I mean.
SEX. I AM TALKING ABOUT SEXUAL RELATIONS. INTERCOURSE. COITUS. THE MAKING OF THE BEAST WITH TWO BACKS IN THE LABORATORY OF RUMPY PUMPY.
In Asgard, Loki freezes Heimdall solid with the Casket of Winters and opens the Bifrost to Jotunheim, letting the Frost Giants in. But Heimdall is able to break out of the ice and open the Bifrost to Earth. Thor promises Jane he’ll come back for her because apparently they’re in love now and he and the Asgardians return home. Laufey enters Odin’s chamber and is about to kill him when Loki shoots him in the back, saying that Laufey’s death came at the hands of “The Son of Odin”. See it turns out that Loki’s been running the whole “get you to invade my kingdom and try to assassinate my dad so I can save him, be a big hero and then use that as justification to wipe out your entire world and so earn the love of my distant foster father” con (ah, that old saw). Thor confronts Loki at the observatory and tells him that he can’t destroy an entire race because “that’s madness”. Loki replies “Is it? IS IT!!?”
“Is it madness to wear mother’s underwear and roll around in marmalade yelling I AM THE ORANGE KING!! SPLEEEEE!”!?”
Anyway, they fight and they fight and the observatory gets destroyed. Thor realises that the only way to stop Loki is to destroy the Bifrost. Loki tells him that if he does he’ll never see Jane again and please Loki, I think it’s been established that there are like a bajillion ways in and out of Asgard that don’t involve the Bifrost. I’m pretty sure the 46A stops there. Anyway, Thor sacrifices his chances of kissing Natalie Portman to save his hated enemies which I think we can all agree is pretty darn selfless. In the ensuing explosion both brothers go over the edge but are caught at the last minute by Odin whose woken up and still wiping the gunk out his eye. Loki tells him that he did all this for him and Odin is all “What the fuck Loki, did you think I wanted GENOCIDE for father’s day just some cologne or something would have been fine what even the fuck?”. Realising that he’s lost his last chance at Odin’s approval, Loki lets himself fall into space.
“Sigh. Lazy bastard Kookaburras.”
While Asgard celebrates, Odin and Thor quietly mourn their loss. Odin tells Thor that he’s proud of him, and now knows that he’ll make a fine king. The movie ends with Thor and Heimdall standing on the remains of the Bifrost. Heimdall tells Thor that Jane is searching for him and that “there is always hope.”
“For example, I hope that since you destroyed my house, you might at least get me a fucking chair.” “Fair.”
Without a doubt the hardest challenge of any movie so far but Thor rises to the occasion admirably. The fact that the story is grounded in real, believable emotion and motivation makes the Space Viking God stuff feel perfectly plausible. And the Space Viking God Stuff is gorgeous too, a near perfect rendering of Kirby’s designs into the real world.
Our Heroic Hero: 24/25
Marvel have yet to put a foot wrong when it comes to casting their leads but they’ve rarely put a foot righter than here. Hemsworth was born to play this part. Downey is fantastic as Tony Stark but let’s be honest, it’s not exactly like it’s a stretch for him. Thor represents probably the greatest acting challenge of any of the main Avengers (with one exception who we’ll get to later) and Hemsworth rises to the challenge and then keeps rising until it’s a little dot beneath him. Thor’s journey isn’t revolutionary or radical, but it is clear, well told, affecting and immensely satisfying. You understand every step of his journey, you see the god learning to be a better man and you buy it. You believe it. It just works.
Our Nefarious Villain: 25/25
Yeah, I’d forgotten how good Loki is. As befitting a good of mischief, Loki keeps you guessing right until the very end. A wonderfully layered, often incredibly sympathetic villain delivered by an absolutely on point Tom Hiddleston.
Our Plucky Sidekicks: 16/25
Fittingly for a movie that is so concerned with relationships between a large number of characters, Thor provides us with a much richer supporting cast than the last three movies. The Lady Sif and the warriors three are a little hit and miss, but Selvig and D’Arcy are awesome and even Natalie Portman manages to be one of the better Marvel love interests (I’d put her way higher than Betty Ross and Rhodey/Pepper and just a notch below Regular-Non-Rhodey-Possessed Pepper).
Selvig is led down into a secret SHIELD facility where he meets Nick Fury who shows him a glowing cube which he says is the key to limitless power. Selvig says he’ll take a look at it, and we see that he’s actually under Loki’s control.
And the audience went
This stinger is cool because it’s not just prick teasing us for the next movie but is actually relevant to the plot of the movie we just watched. Hell, if you’re not familiar with the comics and the cosmic cube you wouldn’t even know that this is foreshadowing for Captain America
Infinity Gem Count:1
DING DING DING! First real sighting and in the very last seconds of the film, too. That glowing cube is the Tesseract, also known as the Space Stone.
Hey, was that Stan Lee?!
That was Stan Lee, trying and failing to pull the hammer out with a pickup truck. But…wait a minute. If Thor puts the hammer in an elevator, the elevator goes up. But the elevator’s not worthy. So why can’t the truck not lift it? Is the truck especially unworthy?
Ah. See people, that’s why you buy AMERICAN.
Any names of comic book characters clumsily worked into dialogue that no one would ever say in real life?
New category that I’m introducing and that I’ve gone back and retroactively added to the Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and Hulk reviews. In this movie though? None that I caught.
Hey, what’s Thanos doing?
Thanos is sitting on his chair.
FINAL SCORE: 86%
NEXT UPDATE: 03/03/15
NEXT TIME: We take a look at everyone’s favourite Star-Spangled, Shield-Slinging, Hitler-Punching, God, Mom ‘n’ Apple Pie Lovin’, War Bond Schillin’ Patriot, CAPTAIN ‘MURICA!
“Gasp! Colm Meaney, the greatest living Irishman!”
“Mouse, have you no shame?! Reviewing Captain America in March, the most Irish of all months. You’ve lost your Celtic soul! You’ve forgotten yer nahtive peehple.”
“Be God you’re right! I have forgotten me nahtive peehple!”
Time to get back to my roots. We’re putting the Marvel movies on hold as March is Irish Animation Month here on Unshaved Mouse. The craic will be ninety, possibly higher. But what movie should I review first?
I have seen beauty thrive, in the most fragile of places.
Neil, Son of Sharp aka the Unshaved Mouse is a playwright, comic book writer and blogger based in Dublin. The blog updates with a new review every second Thursday. Original artwork for this blog was commissioned from the oh-so talented Julie Android, whose artwork is now available for purchase on T-Shirts, mugs, hoodies and more at the Unshaved Mouse online store. Check it out!
DC DID THE NORSE GODS BETTER.
Okay, now that that’s out of my system… I think this is the first of the MCU movies that I would even consider rewatching, which is weird because even a plebeian like me can tell it doesn’t *exactly* hang together as well as Iron Man or even The Incredible Hulk did. I found Jane one of the more forgettable love interests, wondered why the hell this Selvig guy was getting so much screen-time anyways, ground my teeth at how clumsily the idea of Odinsleep was introduced, and wished that Thor had more actual flaws to overcome, especially given that I agree with you on the “Y’know, Thor took the Jotun threat way more reasonably” thing.
(I also wish there were more fish-out-of-water shenanigans like in the original script. I may be the only one left on Earth who’s actually amused by those, but I don’t care.)
But that said, Loki is far and away the most interesting villain in the MCU (so far), the Jotuns in general are deliciously creepy, the other Aesir were a hoot to watch without any overstaying their welcome (Heimdall’s “Good” is probably my favorite line in the movie), and despite the fact that I saw the hammer-rejects-Thor twist coming a mile away, I still felt for the big lug.
Do you mean “The Viking Prince”?
No, but congrats on being one of the five people in the universe who remembers the Viking Prince.
Sorry for the double post, I thought the internet temporarily shut off. In the Justice League Unlimited episode “To Another Shore” they talked about him a lot and it was very memorable. Grodd and Lex Luthor wanted his corpse to remake his invincibility.
Heh. Classic Grodd.
You refer of course to Sandman?
Season of Mists was my first Sandman arc, so part of it might be nostalgia talking, but I freaking loved Kelley Jones’ almost Eldritch-looking Aesir.
This is actually the earliest Marvel film I saw. When Hawk Eye showed up I was sure he would have an important role to make sure the audience would care about him in The Avengers. At least he got to pose.
He gives good pose.
Thor frustrates me…because one half of the movie is divine. The part with Loki. His internalized racism and daddy issues makes him a surprising compelling character (it helps that he played by a passionate actor who obviously loves the role).
But the Thor half…urgh! The love story is terrible written, Jane is underutilized (a lot of problems with her character could have been solved simply by taking Selvig out of the script so that she had something to do aside from mooning over Thor) and Thor’s arc doesn’t really make sense. I have no doubt that he would have gone for the heroic death before he was “humbled”. And I am honestly missing the actual steps in his character development. He just changes from one moment to another, as if a switch is turned.
This is true for both Thor movies. Chris number one is good in the role, but the arc of his character is always a little bit underwritten, while Loki gets all the cool and compelling scenes and makes the movie for me.
For what it’s worth, I feel the original script gave Thor a more definite turning point – originally, he (powerless) wanted to stay back and fight the Destroyer, and *his friends* told him that he was better off evacuating the townspeople. Old!Thor would almost certainly have quavered. New!Thor has difficulty accepting that, but he accepts it nonetheless.
Yeah, this would have made more sense, if he had put rescuing live over the glory of battle.
The love story is undercooked I’ll grant you but honestly romance is always hit and miss. If the actor’s don’t have crazy chemistry there is very little the director or script can do. Disagree with you on Thor’s arc though, you can see clear progression of his character from one beat to the next.
I would say if there is underlying sexism in the script there is little an actor can do.
Yeah, I think the real turning point in his character came when he believed Odin was dead. You could see him thinking, “The father I loved is dead–because of me and my recklessness.”
Thor was the first Marvel movie I ever saw – I was interested in it because of the mythology and that was really it. I didn’t know what I was in for, and honestly this was the reason why I even got into Marvel’s comics, animated series, and movies in the first place. Just such a great movie for all of the reasons you said, and all the actors and characters were just so awesome in this movie. I watch it all the time, and still love it to this day. Still need to watch the 2nd one, though XD
This was your gateway drug huh? Thor 2 doesn’t seem to have fared so well but I remember preferring it to the original. Having said that, I did a fairly major reassessment when I watched this one again so maybe I’ll change my opinion on Dark World too.
When I saw Hawk Eye I assumed he would have a big role to get the audience invested in him for The Avengers. At least he got to pose and look kind of intimidating.
I’m a little surprised you gave Thor 1 a positive review and score considering I almost kind of thought you weren’t the biggest fan of Thor’s outings. I like Thor 1 too but mostly down to what you described and that’s the relationships between all of the characters with Thor, Odin, Loki, and even the side characters and Loki is fantastic as a villain, probably one of the best comic book movie villains out there, in my honest opinion.
I also wasn’t expecting a positive reaction with Darcy considering she’s often been named a useless annoyance and has been accused of having a lot in common with a certain annoying orange gungan.
Looking forward to First Avenger (my favorite Phase 1 film).
Mine too. It is such an underrated movie in the MCU.
Love Cap, but you’ll have to wait awhile.
For me, this is the weakest of the MCU films I would call good. Admittedly that’s not saying a whole lot since the only one I dislike is Iron Man 2. Still a great movie tho.
Wow, so many people crap on Kat Denning’s character that it’s quite surprising to read a positive description of her.
But…but…she’s so adorable?
I agree, I think Darcy’s hilarious as hell. You’re not alone, Mouse.
I seem to be the only person I know that actually likes the chemistry between Portman and Hemsworth. I like watching Jane listen to Thor explain how Asguardians see the universe and try to fit it into her own scientific understanding, and I felt a real bond forming over that moment. Maybe it’s just cuz I’m a scientist lady myself who loves to learn about how things work, but I found it really sweet.
Oh my gosh I am such a freakin’ nerd, my ideal date is learning new science. No wonder I have such a huge crush on Stanford Pines…
Now to distract you from that embarrassing detail: SECRET OF KELLS YEEEEES! That is such a gorgeous movie!! I’m really looking forward to seeing your review since you know a truckload more about Irish lore than the rest of us. I’m ready for some juicy background that changes the way I think about the movie.
No pressure right? You’re a scientist? I am intrigued.
I got my undergrad in Geology and worked for three years in a paleontology museum, but at the moment I’m in between Gradschool and working part time teaching ESL… my career path is really convoluted.
You are evolving.
I’d love a Song of the Sea or Secret of Kells review!
You will get both in March!
Awesome Review, Mouse! 😀 Hilarious as usual and… OH MY GOD, DID YOU JUST REFERENCED A QUEEN SONG? I may be in love with you, but this is weird because I’m scared of mice. Ah, Pain is so Close to Plasure 😉
Thor…now, I will agree this is a beautiful movie and Loki is a great villain…but, in my opinion, the perfect phrase to describe this entire franchise is “lost potential”.
The first movie would’ve been a lot more interesting if Thor were banished to Alfheim instead of earth (the lamest planet!). In the second movie…magic…doesn’t exist apparently, it’s all very advanced science. Doctor Strange may as well just give up.
And now the third movie, “Ragnarok”, which apparently will be a buddy-cop-esque comedy co-starring Hulk…not Sif…or the warriors three…or balder…not even angela…
I just want a series of fantasy films, man. Thor Ragnarok should be everyone’s most anticipated movie of phase 3 (besides…you know), but how is anyone supposed to be excited for it when the movie doesn’t even seem to be adapting any of the actual Ragnarok storylines? Thor and Hulk vs Hela, how riveting! (at least we’ll finally get a good fem…a female villain).
I’m just hoping Thor gets like three more movies after Ragnarok. Thankfully Hemsworth doesn’t seem at all interested in stopping.
At this point in the MCU’s world-building, Dr. Strange and the existence of ethereal magical forces is definitely still capable of existing side-by-side to Thor’s more science-fantasy angle. After all, the depiction of antiquated Gods actually being aliens with advanced science has been in the modern public consciousness since the sixties, to the point where Wold Newton theorists have lumped together the mythos to Stargate and Marvel’s Thor to justify them existing in the same massive shared universe.
After all these movies have thrown at us thus far, wizards, demons and sorcery should be easily acceptable by now.
I’m still hoping Thor says something like “We ARE gods!!” in Ragnarok. Aliens are boring, let the hard true magic kick in.
Thanks for the review. I remember feeling that this one was simply more FUN than Iron Man. But then, I do enjoy Norse mythology parodies quite a bit. Though it would be cool to see a big budget movie with Celtic mythology as well… Or Shinto legends, maybe… Well, whatever.
I recently found a short film that reinvents a significant West African pantheon as superheroes resembling a clash between Milestone Comics and MCU’s depiction of Asgard.
It might have been the over-saturation of Greek or Nordic themes in pop culture that has generated greater interest of other world myths. Apparently Mikaboshi, the Shinto god of Chaos, has become a reoccurring foe to Thor in Marvel comics (I don’t know if that still applies, what with the reboot this year…).
*Last year, I mean*
“Meanwhile, Cúchulainn sits on the damn shelf.”
Someday, you really need to watch Fate Stay Night and see what it does with Cúchulainn, Heracles, Gilgamesh, King Arthur, Medea and Medusa.
“So why can’t the truck not lift it? Is the truck especially unworthy?”
The Cars franchise left the whole land motor vehicle race unworthy.
I knew it. Curses, Lasseter!
My god Mouse…..
My. Fav. Avenger. has. to .wait. until. APRIL!
March will be a month of banging one’s head against the calendar then.
But while I’m on the topic, who’s your favorite Avenger?
Black Widow in the movies. Or cap. It’s a toss up.
I had a hard time getting through The Secret of Kells (annnd my grandmother is no doubt screaming at me from beyond the grave as I type that), so I’m excited to read your review.
Ah a Marvel movie I actually enjoyed!
My main issue with the movie is it’s visually underwhelming climax. Asgard, the frost giants land and even the military complex surrounding the Hammer were such good locations for action. But I’m the climax the dessert town looks fake and puny, the destroyer looked quite silly and too modern. And after the battle Thor just walks from the fight as if he’s taking a Sunday stroll. Considering the awesome action and shots in the first half of the movie, the climax just doesn’t love up I it.
But then I love all the characters and the story is engaging.
And three cheers for the “Secret of Kells”! Awaiting eagerly.
And at last someone who sees no Ill in Kat Dennings. Sheis genuinely adorkable.
I have to admit that the movie really got me into Norse mythology. I read a good portion of the Heimskringla just because of it. But honestly, it’s not that good, and in recent years I’ve come to hate it for what it has done to the glorious Norse religion and particularly to Thor, who is not a mere fictional character like your run-of-the-mill superhero, but a god, a deity that was actually worshiped and who provides spiritual guidance from some of the best pieces of European literature. It’s as if you turned Dante into a blockbuster action hero (though, granted, EA already did that with its atrocious God of War rip off). You just don’t do that.
You don’t do that in a time period when people actually think that Thor and Odin were actually real deities that were watching from the sky. Now, Norse mythology is seen as nothing but mere fictional epics, same thing with the Greece and Roman mythologies so I don’t see the harm especially when that adaption has effort put into it.
But still, it’s like having Shakesperean characters be dumbed down (though that hasn’t stop anyone from doing it; even the Bible has been dumbed down a lot in movies and TV shows). Greek and Norse mythology are not comic books and deities, no matter how much we no longer believe in them, are not superheroes, just like the characters in Milton, Goethe or Dante. i don’t know, I just love Scandinavian literature too much to see it be treated this way.
I must say, I am very much looking forward to your March reviews.
I like that this movie proved it could take the “silly” aspects of comic books and make them work, though I think the scenes taking place on Asgard are the best ones. After watching the other Marvel movies, I enjoy looking back at Loki and seeing those seeds of evil planted in the first act. Tom Hiddleston adds those great little touches especially.
On the downside, Jane and Darcy…not that big a fan. They were done well enough here but in The Dark World….well, I’m curious to see how you feel about them in that film.
I look forward to your review of Secret of Kells! It feels like an eternity since I reviewed that. I’m excited to see your take on it!
Pretty sure that you will make a lot of Viking jokes in The Secret of Kells review.
Thor, eh? Never seen one of these movies, so mostly when I hear of the Norse deities I think American Gods more than Marvel (I’ve been reading that recently). Though Chris and Tom were pretty good in the Avengers, so I guess this movie might not be all too bad on its own. Dunno if I’ll ever watch this. I might if the movie’s producers were gutsy enough to include the Frog of Thunder. That would be a definite “shut up and take my money” inducer for me.
Ooh, would you say Idris Elba’s more of a god than Morgan Freeman? I haven’t seen the guy’s acting much, and I like Bruce Almighty, so maybe I’d agree with you if I’d seen Idris in action, but those are some pretty big words from my perspective. And I agree that Helen Mirren would have been cool in this, but I think the executives decided Idris filled this movie’s badass minority character quota and likely would have vetoed the idea if it had come up. Hopefully The Force Awakens and its success did its part in softening up that non-white-dudes-being-cool-is-white-dude-viewers’-kryptonite idea. *sigh*
Oh my goodness, I didn’t see Thor fall from the wormhole on screen, so my imagination is picturing it being something like Mr. Bean’s descent in the opening theme of his show, and it is hilarious. And reading this, I can’t really see why Odin’s adoption confession made Loki feel worse. Wouldn’t that have just meant that Odin had actually consciously decided to raise him rather than Thor, who he was basically stuck with? Adoption angst can be funny. Though maybe it makes more sense to people who actually are adopted. In any case, Loki’s nonchalant uttering of Lazy Bastard Kookaburras (is that printed on any Mouse merchandise? It really should be) was hilarious.
Great review, Neil Son of Sharp.
Probably will be put on batch 2
Mouse, you’re on point with Thor being the moment when the MCU just pushed all their chips into the table. I remember when the buzz for the movie was being generated when I was back in high school; there was preemptive shock over the post-credits scene in Iron Man 2, and back when that first trailer came out a classmate of mine asked if Thor was supposed to be some sort of SEAL-type soldier, which was followed by his befuddlement over my clarification that no, he is the titular Viking God.
With all that said, I have yet to sit through the entire movie, save for one long bender when my TV was stuck on FX, but this review makes a compelling case to do so. Speaking of which-Secret of Kells, you say? Well, should be as good a time as ever to finally check it out, having been released on Netflix recently.
SECRET OF KELLS REVIEW?! SPLEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Also, are you dipping in the Frozen pool again? I thought you knew better, Mouse. 😛
Good review, I love that you gave a perfect score to my bae Tom HIddleston x)
And OMAGAWD YOU’RE REVIEWING SECRET OF KELLS! ONE MY FAVORITE MOVIES OF ALL TIME!!!
No pressure tho.
Naaaaah… course not (mwahahaha)
BTW, the scenarist of Secret of Kells (who is french) came to talk about his work on the movie at my movie school back in 2010. It was the first time I saw the film and I was blown away. The talk was also very interesting. He showed us character sheets, and told us that Tomm Moore would regulary drop by the studio during the creation of the character designs, and just say “Don’t make it like Disney” before leaving again xD
Except for in plot it’s pretty much How to Train Your Dragon.
My father was a huge Marvel fan and read all the comics when they originally came out. He even owned the first issue of Silver Surfer, something he regrets not keeping to this day. Along with Surfer, he was a big fan of Hulk, Spider-Man, and Thor, each for different reasons. Naturally, he’s kept up with all the Marvel movies, if mostly for the nostalgia factor. My brother and I even went to see the first Thor movie in theaters with him.
And he hated it.
Considering that he enjoyed all the other Marvel movies (even both Hulk films), that struck me as a huge surprise. Looking back on it now, I realize why. Thor as a comic was a high concept think-piece, but the film fails to reach the same level because it has to cater most of itself to the special effects, which I actually don’t think are all that impressive and lack the depth and imagination seen in other Marvel films. Actually, the problem might very well be that the Marvel films up until this point tried to focus on a realism that blended into modern filmmaking, something that Thor couldn’t do all that well due to its sheer grandeur. It’s kind of a convoluted mess too, especially from a directorial standpoint; sorry, but I don’t think Branaugh does a particularly great job at this film (yes, maybe with the actors, but everything else suffers in comparison). For all the flack Thor 2 received, I found that film far more enjoyable to watch than Thor, mostly because it didn’t take itself too seriously in its direction.
Oh well. At least my dad enjoyed the popcorn.
“I found that film far more enjoyable to watch than Thor, mostly because it didn’t take itself too seriously in its direction.”
Yeah…..but damn, did the story, villain, and characters suffer for it.
Love you forever for calling Merida the pretender she is.
Thor has objectively a lot of flaws, especially regarding the plot. However since I love fantasy and Loki was such a great character this film was much more engrossing for me than most of the MCU films.
I thought about it a lot, and, having not seen the Good Dinosaur, I honestly think Brave is the worst Pixar movie thusfar.
I’d say that’s a heavy statement with two Cars movies in the canon, though maybe you’re not in the camp that hates them.
I am. I just don’t hate them as much as I hate Brave.
I like to think that the line “Run back home, little princess,” and Loki’s reaction to it (“Damn.”) were a reference to the Lay of Thrym.
In this, one of the only laugh-out-loud Norse myths there was, the Jotun Thrym steals Thor’s hammer and swears he’ll only return it if the goddess Freya agrees to marry him. Freya refuses and Thor’s all, “Well, what do you expect ME to do? Put on a dress and marry Thrym myself?!”
Before you can say “Gilligan”, Thor’s in a wedding dress headed toward Jotunheim, with Loki dressed as his bridesmaid. Thrym, not being the brightest bulb in the bunch, is fooled, and they sit down to the pre-wedding feast, where the “dainty bride” puts away half the spread. Loki explains it away as “Freya was so eager to see you she hasn’t eaten in days!”
Thor-as-Freya coaxes the “groom” to give “her” Thor’s hammer as a bridal gift, and as soon as he’s gotten it, he knocks the Jotuns silly and returns to Asgard–where, presumably, he never hears the end of it.
(The myth isn’t unknown to Marvel. They did an adaptation of it in the eighties.)
Hah. There’s a similar story in Irish mythology about Fionn MacCumhaill having to pretend to be his own baby.
I know that one! I even have a picture book of it in the library where I work.
Stupid giant. Babies don’t have beards.
The thing I love about that story is that (for once) no one told Loki he had to go along – he just sort of seems to have gone “Stealing? Deception? Cross dressing? I am so there.”
Having just been introduced to the character, and since he also comes from the Isles, I have to ask you, Unshaved, have you watched Danger Mouse? Any opinions on the original and/or the 2015 reboot-remake whatever? How about Count Duckula?
Oh dude. Sore spot for me. Yes I was raised on Danger Mouse and Duckula in particular. When the reboot was announced (it’s an Irish animation company) I was actually able to finagle an invite to the press screening but in the end I couldn’t go. Haven’t actually seen the reboot yet but I’ve heard it’s excellent. Cosgrave were such a fantastic animation studio. God I miss them.
Thor is a movie I consider to be just okay. There’s a lot of stuff I like about it and there’s a lot of stuff I don’t like about it. It’s overall a mixed bag. Not the best marvel movie, but not the worst either.