Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Written by Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Don Payne, J. Michael Straczynski, and Mark Protosevich
Based on characters created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby
Thor is definitely a different kind of origin. After all, there’s very little origin for Thor unless you want to go into the very silly Don Blake plotline (which gets an obligatory nod in this movie). Instead, Thor is just the god of thunder, son of Odin, and the origin here is more about Thor turning from a headstrong, arrogant prince into a hero worthy of the Avengers, along with starting his romance with Jane Foster.
It’s rather a disappointment that Chris Hemsworth has not gotten more action/fantasy work, because he very naturally takes to the role here. Given Thor’s sometimes silly dialogue, it can be a tough thing for anybody to pull off, and yet every scene he is just naturally Thor. He says every line with conviction, he brings the hammer down like he means it, and when the script calls for pratfalls, well, he gives a nice pratfall. And he’s perfectly matched against Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. Loki is definitely an interesting villain among the Avengers movies simply because he has his sympathetic side. All he really wants is Odin’s approval, and he just doesn’t know quite how to get it. Maybe destroying a small New Mexico town is not quite the best way to do it.
Thor is a movie with two worlds, and in a sense, this kind of splits the movie. On the one side, you have Asgard, with its incredible CGI landscape and its high drama. Branagh is probably most famous for his Shakespeare adaptations, and you can feel the hints of Shakespearean drama here. The Asgard scenes are battles of royalty, sons trying to find their place in the world, a father who is becoming weak, and an enemy that threatens to attack, with three people having three different opinions on how the enemy should be dealt with. In the other world, you have New Mexico, land of Kat Dennings’ Darcy making silly quips, Thor getting tasered, and product placement. I’m sure there is product placement in the other Marvel movies, but nothing is quite as notable as the 7/11 and Dr. Pepper vending machine in this movie. Yes, Asgard is definitely the real star of the movie, but that doesn’t mean that New Mexico doesn’t have its charms. After Iron Man was in California, this shows that Marvel movies can really take place anywhere, not just in New York City. And there is nowhere as opposite to NYC as a small town where a hammer that nobody can move is the biggest event ever, with people tying it to a pickup truck to try to get it out, and laughing when they fail. It’s a different atmosphere from any other Marvel movie, Avengersverse or not, and even with its roughness, you can’t help but appreciate it.
And this is a rough movie. The slapstick and the high drama don’t meld. The early action scenes are too visually dark and too frenetic, making the comprehension of what’s going on difficult. And the romance plot between Thor and Jane Foster is missing a step. It’s not fractured, it’s just missing a single piece that you notice is missing. But for these problems, Thor still comes out enjoyable. It meshes action, comedy, romance, and fantasy all together, and you can hear the gears grind from time to time, but it’s still funny and still exciting.