In 2008, the movie world was taken by storm by the successful adaptation of the Marvel Comic’s character Iron Man. Making a huge name for itself as a potential franchise, Iron Man and its sequels (one of which we have already been treated to in 2010) would not be the only stories featuring Mr. Tony Stark.
Iron Man was the beginning of a new film universe that had many interlocking films that will lead up to 2012‘s superhero team up The Avengers. Following Iron Man was 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, now following Iron Man’s sequel we have Thor.
Thor tells the story of an arrogant God (Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth) who wields the power of Thunder with his mighty hammer Mjolnir. After preparing to claim the throne over favor of his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to the realm of the Gods known as Asgard from his Father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), Asgard is attacked by an ancient enemy of Asgard known as the Frost Giants who wish to claim back the their realms old power source, The Casket Of Ancient Winters.
Though unsuccessful in their attempt to take back their Casket, Thor being the blood thirsty brings Loki, Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander), and The Warriors Three’s Fandral (Joshua Dalls), Hogun (Tadanobu Asano) , and Hogun (Ray Stevenson) into The Bifrost to attack the Frost Giants.
This attack ends up restarting the ancient war, which leads Odin to Banish Thor to the realm Misgard (Earth) and stripping him of his powers until he proves his worth as a God by becoming more like a human. During his banishment he meets a group of helpful scientists Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard), and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), whose research also coincides with Thor’s mysterious (to humans) arrival on Earth.
Though Thor’s return may not be as easy as he believes, as a jealous brother and a dangerous and destructive weapon from Odin’s treasure vault stand in the way of the god of thunder receiving the throne to Asgard.
Chris Hemsworth was relatively unknown outside of a brief role as the father of Captain James Tiberius Kirk in the 2009 reboot of the cult Sci-fi television hit Star Trek. When announced as our new Thor, worry spread ever so slightly that perhaps he may not be talented or big enough to play the notoriously big and depth filled character that was Marvel Comic’s god of thunder. But within the first few minutes Hemsworth proves he can capture the arrogance of Thor, as well as the eventually reformed good natured side of the character. Hemsworth puts caution to the wind and owns the God of Thunder by playing him to a tee.
I am eager to see his career sky rocket into plenty more prominent roles. After praise from not only me, but many others, Any movie with Chris Hemsworth in the starring role is no longer the gamble Thor was when casting the then unknown actor.
Hemsworth shows he is a talented actor not only capable of holding his own in his in a starring role in a huge block buster, but that he will certainly have no trouble keeping up with the top notch list of stars such as Robert Downey Jr. and Samuel L. Jackson in 2012’s The Avengers; which will be Hemsworth’s second official appearance as Thor.
Another ground breaking performance is given by Tom Hiddleston as Loki the God of mischief. The ever jealous brother of Thor is seen battling with his eagerness to beat out Thor as Odin’s favorite son. Hiddleston captures a raw essence in Loki that seemed damn near impossible to capture outside of the comics.
Showing off not only Loki’s cunning attitude, but also his anger, jealousy, and overall confusion of discovering who he really is, Hiddleston’s Loki compares to that of Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight, both of whose captivating performances steal the show.
Natalie Portman plays Jane Foster, the love interest in a comic movie who surprisingly isn’t a bland character, unlike most superhero movies, whose love interests are poorly written and often boring (looking at you Raimi). Marvel studios have hit the ball out of the park again with Portman, after great performances by Liv Tyler (The Incredible Hulk) and Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man; though dropping the ball a bit with her character in the sequel) .
Portman plays a great character who, in a sense, isn’t a “love” interest at all. To put it better, it is more of a crush with a little romance sprinkled in. Though Portman, coming off an Oscar win in Black Swan, once again works well with an entertaining character that just could not be the same without her.
Also played greatly is Erik Selvig, who is played by the great Stellan Skarsgard. Selvig may be used rather briefly (like the rest of the supporting characters you will read about shortly), but he is used very well as a barrier between Thor and Jane’s potential relationship.
Now I had seen first hand the fans reaction to Kat Denning’s character Darcy. Many were uninterested in her humor during the first official clip of Thor she was featured in. Saying that, I also have nothing but praise for Dennings as well, as she plays a regular person (not exactly the same type of scientist and not working as closely to stuff related to Asgard as Jane and Erik) who handles her disbelief of Thor claiming to be a god in a sarcastic and often charming way. Darcy is used greatly as a character to provide some regular humanity to the movie.
Also fairly underused was Lady Sif, a cautiously tough woman who proves to be one of Asgards greatest and noblest warriors. Jaimie is nothing short of fierce in this role, and my only downside is a lack a screen time for this character.
The warriors three are each played EXACTLY like their comic counterparts, but again the lack of screen time hurt a good chance of audiences getting attached to them as characters.
The decision to cast black actor Idris Elba as the white Heimdall gained a tiny amount of backlash everywhere from comic fan boys to white supremacist groups, who refused to see the movie. Though Elba works greatly with the little time he is given as Asgard’s gate keeper and all seeing eye, it saddens me that he was cast. I feel that there are other great Marvel characters he had potential to play (ex, Black Panther or Blade), and this role might preclude his consideration for another ‘Marvel Universe’ role. Though great, his character felt like a slight waste of talent, when he could have been used to better potential in other characters (unlike the other underused characters, who were practically born to play their parts).
With my somewhat rant-like display on the unfortunate underuse of great characters, this is also what allows the film to thrive; as it simply focuses on the character that deserved/needed it most, Thor.
To touch briefly on the look of the film, the effects used during fight scenes were fantastic and Colm Feore was also almost completely unrecognizable as the king of the Frost Giants,- Laufey. The 3D in the Earth scenes is dark at times, but the scenes on the wonderfully CGI and set pieced filled Asgard look fantastic on the big screen.
Thor remains a strong pillar that is holding up the ceiling that is metaphorically The Avengers. My new personal favorite of the bunch. Remember to catch Thor AND Loki’s return in The Avengers May 4th 2012. Aslo be sure to stay after the credits for an extra treat.