- Directed by Kenneth Branagh
- April 17, 2011 (Sydney) / May 6, 2011 (US)
Thor is banished from Asgard to Earth, stripped of his powers, and forced to prove himself worthy after his brother Loki tricks him into attacking the Frost Giants as part of a plot to take the Asgardian throne.
I remember first seeing Thor and being impressed by its adherence to the source material. The story here feels like it came straight from the comic book. With some minor tweaks here and there this is a relatively faithful than that adaption of the character to the screen from the printed page. At least the last printed pages I read which was probably 20 years or so before this movie was even seriously considered. That is a strength that the first couple Marvel films had.
There are a little touches and elements here and there that come right from the comic book. One thing that jumped out at me is that early in the film Thor (Chris Hemsworth) spins his hammer Mjölnir and doesn’t use it to fly away but rather knock up ground towards the attacking Frost Giant. I remember that from the comics. Heck, such an action graced a few covers that I can think of.
And much like the comics back in the day this has a different feel and aesthetic to other Marvel movies of the time. When I was big into comics each book gave you something different in terms of overall content. Picking up a Spider-Man book and reading it was different than picking up Captain America or Thor. This is because they were different characters. There is no marginalization. Yes Spider-Man could interact with Captain America or Thor or whatever combination you could dream up but depending on the book you would get a different feel.
And the appearances of Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) come off as just that. I could practically see printed on the cover of an issue of Thor the blurb “In this issue Agent Colson and Hawkeye!” The point is the title character did not lose film time to guest characters. Thor and his journey were the focus. Coulson, Hawkeye, the Warriors Three, and so forth were supporting players and appeared only as much as necessary
It goes without saying Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is fantastic as a villain. He is an improvement over the Loki I am familiar with from the comics though the character has since vastly changed on the printed page since this film. Loki has always been a manipulator with grand schemes, but he is much more manipulative here. He’s a dangerous con artist with great power.
In the comics it has been presented that Thor and his group use magic but here they are presented as being so advanced in their technology that it appears as magic. A little bit of a change that has since been ignored. And a change that works well.
Chris Hemsworth was great casting as Thor. I can’t complain about him. He looked like he was practically hand crafted based on the work of Walt Simonson. Hemsworth gave Thor an arrogance and, when he was on Earth, a naivete that made the character relatable.
I am indifferent to Natalie Portman as Jane Foster. She is an okay actress, but she rarely brings anything special to what she’s in. As Jane Foster she has adequate chemistry with Chris Hemsworth but in the end is bordering on forgettable. And number of actresses could have taken on the part.
And Darcy (Kat Dennings) is just useless. She is the comedic sidekick and does steal the scenes but ultimately does nothing to move the story along. Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig was more of a contributor but not by much. Perhaps they should have kept Jane and eliminated Darcy and Erik to give Jane more to do.
Thor takes on a bit of a Shakespearean vibe as does the comics at their best. This is owed in large part to the direction of Kenneth Branagh. I never would’ve pegged him to do action or a comic book film, but he does pretty well here for someone not known for actioners.
The disposition of the Destroyer in the end happened just a little too quick. This is a big menacing destructive machine, and it all feels wrapped up rather abruptly. However the finale with Loki is just perfect. It pushes everything to the brink with the resolution coming just in time and at an apparent great cost.
I know this goes against the grain, but Thor is probably the best of this particular MCU film series. It feels like the beginning of a movie universe unto itself yet still connected to the rest of the MCU. More importantly it gets the character and the feel from the comics right. Though not perfect this is definitely a must see!