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The following is a part of the Avengers YNInitiative, a series of at least four articles that will be written over the course of at least the next three years. These articles will focus on the creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as it explodes from the comics page to the silver screen. These articles will serve to review the films released in the context of the larger picture that they strive to create. Keep in mind as you read this that as these articles are written, they will contain spoilers for all product released at the time and may also contain non-spoiler information regarding future films.
The Movie 4/5
Itís been about eight months since we last checked in on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but weíre finally back. Tony Stark made us feel (because heís a cool exec with a heart of steel), but as Iron Man all jets ablaze, he was fighting and smiting with repulsor rays. Google my reference if you must, but now we go for something a little more... out there. ĎCross the Rainbow Bridge of Asgard, where the... yadda yadda, etc etc.
Thor came out a few weeks ago and has been a major success for Marvel. How did it rank from one part-time reviewerís viewpoint, and how did it fit within the scope of the major MCU, you ask? Well, luckily, thatís exactly what this article entails. Read on, true believer! For Odin! For Midgard! FOR ASGARD!
Thor tells the tale of... Thor, Norse God of Thunder. Right off the bat they get the universe set, explain how these guys were worshipped as Gods (and really hypes up the ďAsgardians are aliens who came to Earth and were worshippedĒ angle), and just what is going down currently in the Golden Realm. Obviously, this is needed since Thor is a far cry from the familiar world of Tony Stark. The plot is semi-predictable for anyone familiar with the comics: Loki does something bad, Thor takes a long time to learn and easy lesson, fights ensue.
Thor does a lot of things right. First of all, whoever did the casting needs to do the casting for every movie ever. They just get it. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are the two unknowns in the cast, but as Thor and Loki they pull it off swimmingly. Weíre rounded out in the main cast by Natalie Portman as Dr. Jane Foster, Thorís love interest, and Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Thor and Lokiís dick of a father. Both are accomplished thespians, so itís a wonder they even signed on for this. Iím very glad they did, however.
Another thing Thor gets right is the look. Asgard isnít just a sword-and-sorcery fantasy land, and itís not some random cloud-world for Gods to chillax on. This is straight up space-god world, with shiny metal towers and things that hover for no reason. I was wondering how they were going to portray the Rainbow Bridge, one of the sillier things in both the comics and the mythology, and turning it into a giant space cannon was a great idea. The Asgardians, the Frost Giants, the Destroyer armor - it just looked right. Different enough to be taken seriously in a film, but similar enough to be recognizable as Marvelís Thor.
To make a brief stop in cameo-world before I head to my qualms with the film... well, thereís a lot of easter eggs. Asgardís armory is full of blink-or-youíll-miss-it appearances from items of Marvel lore (I noticed the Infinity Gauntlet, the Wand of Watoomb, and Dr. Strangeís Eye of Agamotto), not to mention that the plot hinges on the little-known Cask of Ancient Winters. Agent Coulson, a SHIELD representative from both Iron Man films, gets an expanded role in Thor and itís a great move since Coulson is a really enjoyable character. Heís kind of a dick, but not so much that he becomes unlikable. You know heís still a good guy, even when heís interrogating a captured Thor.
Thereís lots of other cute winks, like the Dr. Donald Blake reference and even some cool nods to Norse Mythology (playing up the fact that Loki is only Odinís adopted son). Stark gets namedropped and Fury, of course, appears after the credits, holding onto the Cosmic Cube, an item that is supposed to play into the plots of both Captain America and the Avengers. Hawkeye also makes an appearance, though it seems shoe-horned in.
So all thatís fun, but thereís still something not quite right about this movie. The plot is serviceable enough and it does a good job of finding balance between the Earth plot and the Asgard plot. Still, neither one seems as fully fleshed out as it could be. On Earth, aside from Thor, Jane, and arguably Coulson, it feels like no one else on Earth matters. Sure, there are other characters, but this is their story. Thor and Jane fall in love over the course of, what, two days? So much so that Thor immediately learns his lesson about humility and wishes to return to Earth to show her his other hammer (the hammer is his penis)? It seems... a bit too quick, maybe.
Meanwhile, on Asgard, Loki has literally the worst scheme in history. It sucks too because Hiddlestonís Loki is SO good, but his plan to... well, do what exactly? He finds out heís adopted and decides to 1. Banish Thor, 2. Usurp Odin, 3. Let in Frost Giants to kill Odin, 4. Kill Thor (Banishment was no longer enough), 5. Save Odin by killing the Frost Giants HE let in, and 6. Fight Thor hand-to-hand despite being no match for him at all. Like, this is LITERALLY his entire plan from start to finish. Itís SO stupid. The Frost Giants are talked up like crazy but in the end, all of them are chumps compared to the Asgardians. Loki, the manipulative schemer, is goaded into a fist fight with the physically superior Thor and, SURPRISE, he gets his ass kicked. The love plot seemed semi-forced, but Lokiís scheme is merely stupid. All he wants is to win his fatherís affections... so, I dunno, get him a card or something. Take him out to Asgardian Applebeeís for his birthday.
Still, the film is pretty fantastic and it was a lot of fun from start to finish. One quick comment that may have had to do with my theater rather than the film: what a loud movie! Every time the Destroyer fired a blast, it was deafening. Same goes with the Bifrost Bridge teleporter: super-loud. Again, perhaps it was my theater, but I know I was not alone in feeling this way. Tone it down, magic laser robot!
Final Thoughts 4/5
Thor is a great movie and a good stepping stone for the MCU. If I were ranking the films weíve had so far, Iíd place it on equal footing with Iron Man 2 (which Iíve decided it just barely not as good as the Incredible Hulk, which is just BARELY underneath the first Iron Man). A good film on its own that also fits nicely into the wider cinematic universe. Iíd love to see a Thor sequel, perhaps fleshing out the Thor/Jane relationship a bit more and giving more screen-time to Sif and the Warriors Three, but Lokiís appearance in the Avengers may preclude that. Still, give me more Thor!
There you have it: Thor is over and done. In just about a monthís time from the writing of this article weíll see the release of Captain America: The First Avenger (I hate that subtitle), and filming on Joss Whedonís The Avengers has already begun. Itís an exciting time to be a fan of Marvel movies. Thor was perhaps just the precipice of something really amazing on the horizon, and I definitely canít wait!
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